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Posts tagged ‘music’

Beachside Motel

By Daphne Taylor Street

Copyright © March 8, 2014

The moment you think that you have the words to describe everything, you hear music. The sound of a trumpet off in the distance filled the air as if painting it with brilliant colors, bouncing off of the waves, splashing onto the shore. Veronica stood motionless. Her evening gown dusted in sand and salt sprayed on by the wind and the Gulf, and the translucent fabric clung to her—a violet second skin, shimmering under the moonlight.

“You match the surf!” a voice called out from behind her. “Look at you. Your dress sparkles like the waves,” and the voice waschet getting closer, but there was no image of him in the dark. Veronica looked down at her arms, and it was true, the violet shimmer of the fabric on her dress was a perfect match to the moonbeams dancing on the waves.

“Are you real or a part of the water?” the voice said softly, now coming from directly over her shoulder. Veronica could feel his breath on her neck.

Though startled by the stranger, Veronica didn’t turn to look at him this time. She felt enchanted by mystery, praying that maybe this stranger was from her dream. Maybe he’s the trumpeter, handsome, strong, kind with soft eyes and made of mystery. A mystery she longed to keep secret for as long as possible.

After a few moments of silence, she turned, and no one was there. The buildings in the background were blacked out. It was three a.m. and not a soul seemed to be awake but her. Except, yards away was a beachside motel with a neon vacancy sign lit up out front, blinking in the dimly lit window of an office. The trumpet’s songs resumed in muted tones.

The reality of the buildings, the structures and solid features framing the other side of the beach transported her back to reality with a vengeance. She felt like crying, but the tears wouldn’t come. She felt nauseous, angry, humiliated, defeated, and a wave of despondence overwhelmed her. The three bottles of wine she consumed on her own a mere hour ago seemed to lose all effect. The intoxication was no use in dulling the pain any longer, and Veronica fell into the sand, dry-eyed and silenced as if her emotions have strangled her. She sat alone gasping for air, clutching the sugary white sand that poured out through her fingers.

Just then, something broke. Inside of her, a sharp pain crescendoed as if a glass had shattered and scratched the inside of her skin and began shooting outward, tearing her flesh, just under the surface—she became cold. The beads of sweat all around her body formed from the Florida August heat felt as cool droplets of rain while memories bombarded her brain, and her own breath betrayed her. All she could do was exhale.

Her mind played out the night’s events in vivid frames beginning wither husband, Jason, backstage, waiting for her after the opera. She was a stunning Carmen, with Bizet’s notes carved carefully in her voice—every tone embodied an intense characterization—that emanated a reality, transporting the audience into another world.

After the last curtain call, and the roars of the crowds died down, Veronica was beaming with joy. Seeing Jason backstage, she melted into his arms, snuggling intimately against his neck, then suddenly realized that his arms weren’t even around her, and his head was stiff and fixed forward. She felt as if she was embracing a concrete wall. She was. She grew cold and silent, gathered her things and left quickly behind him, sitting in the car with a knot in her stomach, not knowing why, but she felt immensely fearful just the same.

The next frame was of Jason uttering his only words, which followed a long stretch of silence in the car ride back to the hotel. “Oh, by the way, I’ve filed for divorce. And I’ve moved our money. You won’t find it, so there’s no need for you to contest it. I think you have $4,000 in your checking account. I’ve left you with that. Thanks for agreeing to selling the house so quickly. This way, it’s all neat and clean. We don’t even need to talk past this point. Our attorneys will handle everything. See? It’s clean. You should be happy—I’ve made this pretty easy on you. Okay, here we are,” he pulled up to an old beachside motel and stopped the car.

Veronica sat there staring at Jason, then whispered sheepishly, stuttering a little, “What?”

Next frame—Jason twisted his neck around with his chiseled jaw clenched, eyes stern and black, glaring into hers filled with tears, and he said simply, “Get out.” She did as he sped off. Veronica gathered herself up, and she walked to the motel office. No one seemed to be there; the door was locked, and no one answered as she pounded, just needing a place to rest.

She remembered seeing a hammock near one of the motel windows, and she figured that would do until dawn, which was still several hours away.

A sense of dead exhaustion overcame her, and she clung tightly to the old sea grass woven hammock and climbed into it, drifting off to a shallow sleep. The sound of the waves crashing over and over again against the surf took her mind to a place of uncommon stillness—a soft quietness within. A peace she hadn’t known since childhood. And she dreamed in soft colors.

About an hour lapsed, and consciousness swept in, waking her to a sharp pain in her thigh. Her plump flesh pressed uncomfortably against the strong ropes, she shifted her weight over to the left to relieve the pressure, but her foot got stuck. Trying to shake it free, her hand fell through another opening in the hammock, and she found herself twisted and tangled like a dolphin caught in an unforgiving net.

Moolit_Beach_Veronica then thrust all of her weight—a solid180 lbs.—onto one side, spinning her body, leaving her hovering over the sand, face down, still caught in the ropes. The hammock seemed to have won the battle, and as far as she knew, it might have won the war.

No longer feeling too peaceful, and the scorching Florida heat returned with a vengeance, she hung there, sweat leaking from every pour, her evening gown shrunk onto her flesh like plastic wrap. Not a soul seemed to be awake; even moonstruck lovers had found their way indoors for the night. There wasn’t much hope for a rescue, and her handbag was yards away with her cell phone tucked safely inside. Veronica tried to fight back tears of frustration and discomfort, and she failed.

As she tried to wipe her now slimy nose, she managed to finally free her hand from the ropes, and it fell to the sand below onto something that felt rubbery and cold. Curious, she dusted off the sand covering the object, revealing a hand—a dead hand, gray and shriveled, with a gold Rolex strapped to the lifeless wrist, still ticking away.

Veronica screamed.

The Little Person and the Diva

It was a listening silence. Not like the silence you hear when someone is withholding a thought or waiting their turn to speak or being polite, because that is what you do. The amphitheater had 4,000 people generating electrical waves of openness, of anticipation for the next, a silence set to receive.

And I was asked before I went on if I was nervous. Nervous for what? What was there to be nervous about? Well, you know, hejessyenorman1 stammered this and that, there are all these people, millions more viewing on television, an international commemorative event… one would be nervous. But why, and what good would it do, and wouldn’t it ruin it? I’m excited, practiced, prepared and mindful—fully in the moment to give—to claim the stage and fill the listening silence with a full expression of my breath. To sing.

And so it was… I walked upon the stage, with my body taller than I ever remember it being before, as if my head were being lifted high above, into the atmosphere, by the history of all the brilliant ghosts haunting this place. I was standing on the very steps where Socrates stood, and I was as humbled and humanized as I was embodying grandeur and magnificence—a perfect balance formed from this sublime paradox. I sang.

O beautiful for spacious skies,

For amber waves of grain,

For purple mountain majesties

Above the fruited plain!

America! America! God shed His grace on thee,

And crown thy good with brotherhood

From sea to shining sea!

O beautiful for pilgrim feet,

Whose stern impassion’d stress

A thoroughfare for freedom beat

Across the wilderness!

America! America! God mend thine ev’ry flaw,

Confirm thy soul in self-control,

Thy liberty in law!

O beautiful for heroes proved In liberating strife,

Who more than self their country loved,

And mercy more than life!

America! America! May God thy gold refine

Till all success be nobleness,

And ev’ry gain divine!

O Beautiful for patriot dream

That sees beyond the years

Thine alabaster cities gleam,

Undimmed by human tears!

America! America! God shed His grace on thee,

And crown thy good with brotherhood

From sea to shining sea!

 

So, you asked me what was it like to sing like that, to perform for thousands—millions, and to stand on the very slab of marble where Socrates stood and taught? Imagine being a lightning bolt. Imagine the energy you would give forth, the force and power you would have to summon to create a show as spectacular in the sky as lightening, knowing that your performance is restricted only to one part in a single storm. That is what it was like.

So you asked me about my career as a singer? Imagine having to be a lightning bolt countless times, practicing the art of being the best lightning bolt you can be every day of your life, always preparing for a fresh performance, to be prepared for the next storm when you’re called upon, and the storm may be brief or it may last hours, and you may have a small role, or you may be the entire show, and you must be as prepared for each role with the same level of excellence no matter the scale of your appearance. That’s the job of a singer.

You want me to sing? Sing with me:

He´s got the whole world in His hands,

He´s got the whole world in His hands,

He´s got the whole world in His hands.

He´s got the wind and the rain in His hands,

He´s got the wind and the rain in His hands,

He´s got the whole world in His hands.

He´s got the tiny little baby in His hands,

He´s got the tiny little baby in His hands,

He´s got the whole world in His hands.

He´s got you and me, sister, in His hands,

He´s got you and me, brother, in His hands,

He´s got the whole world in His hands.

He’s got ev’rybody here in His hands.

He’s got ev’rybody here in His hands.

He’s got the whole world in His hands.

 

So, you want to know what I think matters most of all? That humans care about how they treat one another. I am so tired of hearing about how people need to pull themselves up from their bootstraps, when there are too many people who have no boots. As a society we have a responsibility to our sisters and brothers, a responsibility to be compassionate and to lend a hand up, to reach around to your neighbor and ask, “How can I help?” and lend a hand up—no one needs a hand out—they need opportunities, second chances and others believing in them. If only we would learn that it matters most how we treat one another. In fact, it might be the only thing that does matter.

Now, I think it’s time for a little person to go to bed. Oh, one more song? Well, alright. You start singing your favorite, and I’ll join in…

Silent night, holy night!

All is calm, all is bright.

Round yon Virgin, Mother and Child.

Holy infant so tender and mild,

Sleep in heavenly peace,

Sleep in heavenly peace

Silent night, holy night!

Shepherds quake at the sight.

Glories stream from heaven afar

Heavenly hosts sing Alleluia,

Christ the Savior is born!

Christ the Savior is born

Silent night, holy night!

Son of God love’s pure light.

Radiant beams from Thy holy face

With dawn of redeeming grace,

Jesus Lord, at Thy birth

Jesus Lord, at Thy birth

 

Beachside Motel – Chapter 1 (edited version)

The moment you think that you have the words to describe everything, you hear music.

The sound of a trumpet off in the distance filled the air as if painting it with brilliant colors, bouncing off of the waves, splashing onto the shore. Veronica stood motionless. Her evening gown dusted in sand and salt sprayed on by the wind and the Gulf, and the translucent fabric clung to her—a violet second skin, shimmering under the moonlight.

“You match the surf!” a voice called out from behind her. “Look at you. Your dress sparkles like the waves,” and the voice was chetgetting closer, but there was no image of him in the dark. Veronica looked down at her arms, and it was true, the violet shimmer of the fabric on her dress was a perfect match to the moonbeams dancing on the waves. “Are you real or a part of the water?” the voice said softly, now coming from directly over her shoulder. Veronica could feel his breath on her neck.

Though startled by the stranger, Veronica didn’t turn to look at him this time. She felt enchanted by mystery, praying that maybe this stranger was from her dream. Maybe he’s the trumpeter, handsome, strong, kind with soft eyes and made of mystery. A mystery she longed to keep secret for as long as possible.

After a few moments of silence, she turned, and no one was there. The buildings in the background were blacked out. It was three a.m. and not a soul seemed to be awake but her. Except, yards away was a beachside motel with a neon vacancy sign lit up out front, blinking in the dimly lit window of an office. The trumpet’s songs resumed in muted tones.

The reality of the buildings, the structures and solid features framing the other side of the beach transported her back to reality with a vengeance. She felt like crying, but the tears wouldn’t come. She felt nauseous, angry, humiliated, defeated, and a wave of despondence overwhelmed her. The three bottles of wine she consumed on her own a mere hour ago seemed to lose all effect. The intoxication was no use in dulling the pain any longer, and Veronica fell into the sand, dry-eyed and silenced as if her emotions have strangled her. She sat alone gasping for air, clutching the sugary white sand that poured out through her fingers.

Just then, something broke. Inside of her, a sharp pain crescendoed as if a glass had shattered and scratched the inside of her skin and began shooting outward, tearing her flesh, just under the surface—she became cold. The beads of sweat all around her body formed from the Florida August heat felt as cool droplets of rain while memories bombarded her brain, and her own breath betrayed her. All she could do was exhale.

Her mind played out the night’s events in vivid frames beginning wither husband, Jason, backstage, waiting for her after the opera. She was a stunning Carmen, with Bizet’s notes carved carefully in her voice—every tone embodied an intense characterization—that emanated a reality, transporting the audience into another world.

After the last curtain call, and the roars of the crowds died down, Veronica was beaming with joy. Seeing Jason backstage, she melted into his arms, snuggling intimately against his neck, then suddenly realized that his arms weren’t even around her, and his head was stiff and fixed forward. She felt as if she was embracing a concrete wall. She was. She grew cold and silent, gathered her things and left quickly behind him, sitting in the car with a knot in her stomach, not knowing why, but she felt immensely fearful just the same.

The next frame was of Jason uttering his only words, which followed a long stretch of silence in the car ride back to the hotel. “Oh, by the way, I’ve filed for divorce. And I’ve moved our money. You won’t find it, so there’s no need for you to contest it. I think you have $4,000 in your checking account. I’ve left you with that. Thanks for agreeing to selling the house so quickly. It would have been uncomfortable if we needed to deal with an arson investigation and insurance settlements. This way, it’s all neat and clean. We don’t even need to talk past this point. Our attorneys will handle everything. See? It’s clean. You should be happy—I’ve made this pretty easy on you. Okay, here we are,” he finished pulling up to the hotel as the valet opened her door.

Veronica sat there staring at Jason, then whispered sheepishly, stuttering a little, “What?”

Next frame—Jason twisted his neck around with his chiseled jaw clenched, eyes stern and black, glaring into hers filled with tears, and he said simply, “Get out.” She did.

Veronica gathered herself up, and she walked to the motel office. No one seemed to be there; the door was locked, and no one answered as she pounded, just needing a place to rest.

She remembered seeing a hammock near one of the motel windows, and she figured that would do until dawn, which was still several hours away.

A sense of dead exhaustion overcame her, and she clung tightly to the old sea grass woven hammock and climbed into it, drifting off to a shallow sleep. The sound of the waves crashing over and over again against the surf took her mind to a place of uncommon stillness—a soft quietness within. A peace she hadn’t known since childhood. And she dreamed in soft colors.

About an hour lapsed, and consciousness swept in, waking her to a sharp pain in her thigh. Her plump flesh pressed uncomfortably against the strong ropes, she shifted her weight over to the left to relieve the pressure, but her foot got stuck. Trying to shake it free, her hand fell through another opening in the hammock, and she found herself twisted and tangled like a dolphin caught in an unforgiving net.

Veronica then thrust all of her weight—a solid180 lbs.—onto one side, spinning her body, leaving her hovering over the sand, face down, still caught in the ropes. The hammock seemed to have won the battle, and as far as she knew, it might have won the war.

Moolit_Beach_No longer feeling too peaceful, and the scorching Florida heat returned with a vengeance, she hung there, sweat leaking from every pour, her evening gown shrunk onto her flesh like plastic wrap. Not a soul seemed to be awake; even moonstruck lovers had found their way indoors for the night. There wasn’t much hope for a rescue, and her handbag was yards away with her cell phone tucked safely inside. Veronica tried to fight back tears of frustration and discomfort, and she failed.

As she tried to wipe her now slimy nose, she managed to finally free her hand from the ropes, and it fell to the sand below onto something that felt rubbery and cold. Curious, she dusted off the sand covering the object, revealing a hand—a dead hand, gray and shriveled, with a gold Rolex strapped to the lifeless wrist, still ticking away.

Veronica screamed.

Stress Buster Series Part 2 — CREATE — 7 strategies to reduce stress

Here are 7 CREATIVE ways to effectively deactivate stress…

There’s no joking around about the seriousness of stress. At the very least it eats away at us, preventing us from enjoying life fully. At its worse, it is deadly—a major contributor in obesity, high blood pressure and other critical health conditions and diseases as well as mental illnesses, including problems with alcohol and other drugs, anxiety disorders and depression. It even has been linked to many instances of suicide. Tame the beast—take action to help manage stress.

  1. Daydream—you may often hear advice about meditation, and that certainly has its place, but… daydreaming has become a lost art by far too many. Stare at the clouds, gaze into the water or just simply stare off into space. Let your mind wander and imagine yourself in dream lands, surrounded by people you enjoy or off on your own to explore and revel in creative bliss… all inside your own skull.
  2. Write—oh stop worrying; no one said you need to publish this, but you just might want to once you’ve done it long enough. Just get the stuff stuck inside your head and your heart outside and take a look at it. Go ahead and write about what’s scaring you, or not. You may choose to write a better story; one where you are empowered and actively achieving all you desire. Or, even still you may choose to channel your inner voice, and give it a platform to express spirit, wonder, gratitude and grace. Or… all of the above.
  3. Draw—I don’t care if your version of a Renoir looks exactly like blotchy, lumpy diseased stick figures. Draw something—groupings of circles, an abstract of the horizon at dusk, a blade of grass or leaves, clouds… anything. The point is to explore expressing yourself non-verbally. We relay far too much on words and give them far too much power in our lives. Here is an opportunity to explore the connections between your eyes and your hands in a creative fashion. Use a pencil, your favorite pen or go wild with pastels, colored pencils or even crayons. Have fun and explore
  4. Sing—whether you’re a nightingale or more closely resemble a quacking duck, put your favorite tune in your head (or go ahead and queue it up on your Mp3), and sing that song! Fill up your body with air and let sounds reverberate through every atom that makes you… you. Don’t be shy and activate your whole self in song. Throw all of your energy into making music—the very expression of your own breath.
  5. Dance—that’s right, get down and get jiggy with it! Or slip into some Ravel and go on point if that’s your pleasure. Experience music as an expression of your whole body. Oh come on no one’s looking. And so what if they are? Make them envy your joy! They should feel so free.
  6. Create—just start and go! Have you ever wanted to sculpt? Play the piano? Paint a mural? Write a story? Compose a song? Choreograph a dance? Just start. You may not like where it takes you at first, but you started! That’s more than most people ever do. Great work! Now, keep doing it, and by accident, if you keep doing it enough and work on doing it a little better each time, you’ll find at some point—you’re actually kinda good. Maybe ever great! But that will never, ever, ever happen… unless you begin.
  7. Pretend—pretend you’re somebody else. If you could be a different type of person… you might walk differently, speak differently, behave differently… dress, attitude, habits, preferences… all different. Even how you choose to spend your day might be different. For one morning, afternoon, or one evening, go somewhere where no one knows you, and go BE that different person. Keep your name, and please do try to keep your sanity and return to reality once you’re done with your “trip,” but also do take note of all being that alter ego taught you. How were you treated? How did you feel? Did you see things differently, value different things and take notice of different things than you normally would? Were your interactions with people different? Overall, how did your experiences differ, and what lessons from this experience can you incorporate into your real life and real personality to be an even more authentic, happier and empowered you?

Activating your creativity helps to deactivate stress by opening a portal for that negative energy, and with you and your creative spirit serving as the conduit, you have the power to turn the negative energy—STRESS—into a very positive energy—ART.

kandinsky - transverse line (copy)

kandinsky – transverse line (copy)

Philanthropy Rocks! Van Wilson supports St. Pete Free Clinic

This is a tale of caregivers, philanthropy, stewardship and rock ‘n’ roll.

Patrick, Paul and Mark Wilson

On Oct. 15, Van Wilson, a local band made up of three brothers and some others, rocked the stage at St. Petersburg’s The Local 662 to a sold-out crowd. What matters here is not the rock show, which really did rock, but who these brothers are and what their rock concert did.

The brothers three happen to be Emmy and Tony Award nominated Patrick Wilson, Fox 13 news anchor Mark Wilson and advertising mogul Paul Wilson. What the concert did was raise about $4,000 of unrestricted funds for the St. Petersburg Free Clinic. The Brown Forman Corporation donated spirits to the event to be enjoyed by the patrons and to help raise money.

Rocking Out for a Cause

The concert opened with the John Kelly Band, warming up the crowd with original tunes that seemed familiar, though I’ve never heard them before. The venue began filling up with an enthusiastic crowd that soon swelled to a tame mob — a packed house made up of community members, friends and family of the Wilson brothers and, perhaps most significantly, Patrick Wilson’s graduating class of 1991 from Shorecrest Prep.

Let the show begin! Enter Paul Wilson from behind the crowd, looking like the smooth devil he is, covering the Rolling Stones classic “Sympathy for the Devil.” The music was a walk down amnesia lane for many of us who grew up listening to Van Halen, Guns N’ Roses and even a touch of Jimmy Buffett.

Mark Wilson captivated the crowd with his masterful guitar riffs. Patrick Wilson never missed a beat, playing drums while his brother Paul Wilson played front man with larger-than-life incarnations of classic rock stars such as Mick Jagger and David Lee Roth. Yet, the majority of the songs were crooned by the Broadway veteran Patrick, never disappointing his adoring fans.

Philanthropy Is in the Blood

I’ve known the Wilson brothers since I was about 10 years old, growing up with them in the church where their mother, Mary K. Wilson, was the choir director of four choirs at the Cathedral Church of St. Peter, and their dad, John Wilson, news anchor at Fox 13, was often nearby lending a hand with nearly anything for anyone.

Beyond John and Mary K. being extraordinarily talented professionals, their overarching shared attribute is that they both have hearts the size of planets. It would be alien to their nature to not give of themselves in large and small ways to their community and to people in need. They are far from pushovers, but they have a level of integrity that flows beyond honesty and manifests in stewardship and philanthropy.

Certainly this sense of stewardship and philanthropy influenced Patrick, Mark and Paul, but I believe it goes beyond that — it’s in their DNA. Paul Wilson said, “At a nascent age, my parents instilled in us a sense of giving. My mother wrote checks to the power company to pay for others — paying someone else’s power bill, someone who couldn’t afford it. My mother is altruism personified. To us, helping others was always part of our family values. My dad seldom ignored the chance to give someone a ride when their car broke down. So we get it from both sets of genes.”

The brothers have been raising money for charitable organizations through their “family reunion” concerts for a couple of years now. Mark Wilson explained that this is an opportunity for the family to get together, have fun and give back to the community.

Patrick Wilson said in a recent interview with CBS, “if you can get the common person that may just want to come out and have a good time and hear some music and give to charity — especially a very noble one like the free clinic — then we’re in good shape.”

I asked Paul why giving back is so important to him and why it is so meaningful to his family. “In today’s fast-paced world, it’s easy to forget how easy it can be to help others, how valuable it can be for the spirit, yours and those in need. But it is the giving that nurtures the soul and replenishes it,” he said.

How to Give Back in Your Community

Each week I write a simple column, raising awareness and celebrating the great works caregivers do in your community. This article is a call to action.

This story is all about the power of a little generosity and a lot of commitment to making communities and lives a little better and a little stronger through raising awareness and funds. Right now, our economy is putting a strain on most families and unemployment is plaguing more and more of our neighbors, making large-scale philanthropy and fundraising increasingly scarce. Yet, if we all joined together and dedicated just a few hours of our time, talent and resources, it would make a world of difference to those most in need right in your own neighborhood.

Just think of a nonprofit or a cause that means something to you, and then think of a way that you can donate talents, skills, time, resources or even money to help support that cause. If we all work together to make the change we want to see in our community, imagine what great things we could do.

For a listing of charitable organizations in your community, call 211 or visit 211tampabay.org.

PUBLISHED ARTICLE: http://largo.patch.com/articles/wilson-brothers-give-back#photo-8197554

UPDATE: Check out the upcoming concert 5/26/2012, benefitting Paws for Patriots: http://www.facebook.com/#!/vanwilsonband

The Cardboard Stories: community theatre brings messages of hard truths about homelessness with inspiration and hope

The Pinellas County Coalition for the Homeless (PCCH) in partnership with Joyeous Productions premiered its first theatrical production, The Cardboard Stories‘ “Blissful Turmoil”, in November of 2010. The brainchild of PCCH Director of Development and Performance Evaluation George Bolden, its mission was to instill hope and inspire action, telling a story of the true faces of homelessness. A bold mission, and I must admit, from the very first show: mission accomplished!

From the Palladium Theatre in downtown St. Petersburg, the setting of the play transported us all right down the street. Down the street and just around the corner to nearby William’s Park. I was struck by the scenery, from the busses to the park benches that had armrails installed down the center to make it difficult for St. Petersburg homeless to stretch out. Then, the people started filling the stage. The homeless, police, a familiar mix.

This scene brought me back to my childhood–memories of attending church at the Cathedral Church of St. Peter, right across from William’s Park. Countless interactions with the homeless who have always seemed to be a part of the park’s landscape as far back as I can remember. I remember feeling uneasy around them, watching the uneasiness of the adults around me, watching them avert their eyes, watching them take effort not to acknowledge these humans, no smiles, no hellos and not a word about them following the experience.

It’s as if they were ghosts. Some supernatural entities that we are not to mention for fear that then, if they were to be acknowledged or to come up in conversation, we would ultimately have to face our individual responsibility to do something. Something helpful. Something kind. Something outside of our familiarities.

Children learn through example, but all along, I knew this behavior was wrong. Averted eyes, speeded gates, tugging on their children’s hands to move them swiftly by. Wait!  These are people. We should smile at them. We should say hello. We should be kind. We should acknowledge humanity.

Then, the characters started to come alive on the stage, telling a profound tale of an all too common scene: a young mother who recently aged out of foster care to find herself homeless with a baby, living on the streets of St. Petersburg, Florida. An original stage play written by a local playwrite, Marvia Joye Watkins “Joye”brought a difficult story to her audience in a balanced fashion that wasn’t too uncomfortably hard yet moving and real.  

Blended into the story was original music brought to us by recording artist and The Cardboard Stories Music Director September Penn. Tears welled up in many eyes as the message came home to us all: Faces of Hope… what about us, we know you see us… we were displaced now we’re searching for faces of hope… For the full song, click here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=upmf56NP87w 

Keeping it real was a primary focus of the production from day one. Several key figures responsible for shaping this production spent Labor Day weekend living as homeless persons on the streets and in shelters in St. Petersburg. They came back with an altered, realistic perspective that influenced the production. Some of the cast members were homeless themselves. The Pinellas County Coalition for the Homeless provided well-research statistics of homelessness in Pinellas County, which was integrated within the play (about 65 percent of homeless persons are women and children; less than 40 percent of homeless have issues with addictions). Theatergoers were provided with the facts and some of the realities of homelessness, yet with an overarching message of hope and inspiration.

A closing message: may we remember to at the very least acknowledge humanity. Do not invert your eyes any longer. Just take a moment and have the courage in your heart to look, smile and say, “hello.”

The Cardboard Stories is actually a series of four plays. The curtain has closed on the first, though the production is receiving invitation to take the show on the road and perform encore productions! Meanwhile, the cast and crew are back at work, producing the next in its series, “Sweet Atrocity” to be premiered in the Spring of 2011. I invite you all to stay posted by “liking” The Cardboard Stories on Facebook, and sharing this inspirational story with your family, friends, coworkers and faith-based communities.

For more information on The Cardboard Stories, please visit:

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/The-Cardboard-Stories/106224186099865

Web: http://www.thecardboardstories.com

Media (St. Petersburg Times): http://www.tampabay.com/features/humaninterest/cardboard-stories-play-about-homelessness-opens-eyes-at-palladium/1137969 

Media (Bay News 9): http://www.baynews9.com/article/news/2010/november/174292/Plays-goal:-Raise-awareness-about-homelessnesso

Slideshow (Tampabay.com): http://www.tampabay.com/specials/2010/audio_slide_shows/cardboard_stories/

Photos: http://hornphotographyanddesign.blogspot.com/2010/11/cardboard-stories.html

PSA: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hkWs2yYPSjE&feature=related

Promo Ad: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tV-PrXGxk84&feature=related

Innovative leadership needed in the era of the Creative Class (AKA: What’s a Master Class?)

To be a great leader or manager it requires you to learn how to lead and coach. And things have changed–or have they?

Coming from a performance background, master classes are unique events, which publicly illustrate the best in coaching, when done well. In a master class, a master artist works with performers on their instrument in front of an audience of their peers. Several participants/attendees have an oppotunity to work one-on-one with a master performer, and likewise all attendees watch this master teacher work one-on-one with certain performers. It is a remarkable learning experience, charged with energy, opportunity and countless ah-ha! moments.

Unfortunately, it’s unique to the performing arts. But, can we take the concept outside of the arts and apply it to traditional business? It’s far more than role-playing or lecturing or even workshopping. It’s a then-and-there charged experience of performance, exploration and discovery of your craft alongside a master mentor with peers looking on and learning from your experience.

Violinist Maxim Vengerov shows the best in coaching in this video. What can you learn from his style? http://bit.ly/2fp…hgG 

Great leadership requires extraordinary communication coaching and identifying and tapping into unique teaching opportunities.  Regardless of your craft, talent or business, we have a responsibility to continue to explore new ways of connecting with, coaching and mentoring new leaders: artists, thought leaders, the creative class. 

What can we learn from the arts and the concept of a master class? How can a similar experience be duplicated to help cultivate and nurture thought leaders and emerging thought leaders in our culture? Regardless of your particular brand of art, the best is always the best. Only model the best.

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