Aha! Moments Spotlight

The Malady of “Otherness”

“It’s impossible not to love someone whose story you have heard.” The beloved children’s TV host Mister Rogers carried that quote in his wallet, to remind him of the importance of listening.

“Storytelling + listening can connect residents of a divided city.”

I love the spirit of this! I’d love to cultivate something similar here in Windsor. The very first thing that came to mind is a homeless friend who has been working to organize his colleagues to keep them safer, and to create more respectful bonds and discourse with the businesses downtown who are affected by their presence. “Gramps” and I have coffee when I’m downtown. He’s shared many stories of not only his own experiences (some of them truly devastating), but those of the others on the street. The one that absolutely broke my heart was of a city Councillor who treated a very young panhandler with horrific disdain. I won’t relate the story here, but it made my blood boil, and then got me thinking about how much of this rift continues to exist because of this sense of “otherness”. It’s so easy to look past someone who is different, particularly when their circumstances make you uncomfortable. Poverty isn’t “their” problem; it’s OUR problem. Suffering flourishes when communication fails. This group in Chicago has such an interesting perspective on how to dismantle the malady of “otherness”.

Have a peek at this bit from their project, and then please tap me on the shoulder if you are someone who is interested in finding a way to cultivate something like this in the Windsor area?

Spotlight Tools for Writers

The Clues to a Great Story

So I’m writing a novel. It only took me the first 52 years to make good on the promise I made myself when I was 7 (okay, so technically 45 after that, but who’s counting?), but I’m doing it, and I’m loving it. Along the way, I’ve been gathering the wisdom of elders. The nice thing about the internet is that it makes this really easy to do, picking up advice here, a tool there.

I’m about half way through my journey now, and found that while I still had the fire burning in my belly, more than when I started, I was finding it tougher to know how to move forward in a meaningful way. So I went back to the toolbox I’d been tossing things into on Pinterest, and found a few things to help me get back to the business of falling in love with the story all over again.

One of the things that was really helpful was Andrew Stanton’s TED Talk, and the simple pictogram that accompanied it: “The Clues to a Great Story”.

Click through to add them to your own toolkit …

Aha! Moments Spotlight

Opportunity Makers, Embracing Differences, and Creating Something Meaningful.

“We all want to use our talents to create something meaningful with our lives. But how to get started?”

This is a pretty great invitation, and the one that Forbes columnist, Kare Anderson, gave in her TED Talk back in September of 2014.

We are often confronted by moments of connection with people who really challenge our ideas, our values and our points of view. Shutting the door to that connection may be the easiest and most comfortable thing to do, but there are so many incredible opportunities that are lost when we do that.

One of the things that really resonated with me was a particular observation Kare made about people who are the greatest “opportunity makers”:

“They’re not affronted by differences. They’re fascinated by them.”

Kare issued a resonant challenge:

“To re-imagine a world where we use our best talents together more often to accomplish greater things together than we could on our own.”

Click through to watch Kare’s TED Talk to learn more about the ways you can boost your powers as an “Opportunity Maker”.

Music Spotlight

So here’s the thing: music matters.

It heals, it propels us, and it connects us. If you were lucky enough to have a music teacher, get off your backside and thank them. Track them down. Call them. Text them. Send a good old fashioned letter or Christmas card. Doesn’t matter how you do it. Just find them and say thanks. Seriously.Continue Reading “So here’s the thing: music matters.”

Spotlight Stories

Graphic Novelist, Scott Chantler

I had the chance to meet and chat with graphic novelist, Scott Chantler, about writing, publishing and editing last night at the central Library. Scott is the Writer-in-Residence at the University of Windsor, and the first cartoonist to receive this appointment from a Canadian university. His novel TWO GENERALS was nominated for two Eisner Awards,Continue Reading “Graphic Novelist, Scott Chantler”

Art Spotlight

Found Object Art

Love “Sundays in the Studio” at the Art Gallery of Windsor. I spent the afternoon working with artist, Sasha Opeiko, who helped us use “found objects” to create art. It mirrors one of the central exhibits in the gallery right now. Today’s theme was food. I’m using a cracked old teacup and saucer, newspaper, cardboard,Continue Reading “Found Object Art”

Adventures Aha! Moments Spotlight Stories

The Lost Art of Letters

My friend Ed Vielmetti has a lovely practice. He sends postcards to friends on a regular basis. He told me about this when I first met him more than a decade ago at one of Jerry Michalski’s soul-changing retreats. I thought it was a wonderful way of reviving old fashioned letter writing on a micro-scale.Continue Reading “The Lost Art of Letters”

Spotlight Stories

And this is why I will never give up on print.

Electronic books and magazines may make up the bulk of my library these days out of a sense of eco responsibility, and certainly efficiency, but when was the last time you could press a flower between their pages, or inhale the intoxicating smell of paper and print? My most treasured texts will always be onesContinue Reading “And this is why I will never give up on print.”

Adventures Music Spotlight

What have YOU given up that you would love to reclaim?

How the heck do you simply forget about years of your life and the passion that once defined them? I just stumbled across a box containing hundreds of musical scores that I had composed when I was 15, 16, 17 years old. I was prolific. Then life happened and I put it all away. IContinue Reading “What have YOU given up that you would love to reclaim?”