Hot off the presses… ITOWNY’s Winter Edition 2018-2019
I know a woman who begins her presentations with “Today is the best day of my life”. As she continues you discover why: Because today is the only day we have! Yesterday is gone and tomorrow isn’t here! The only moment we have is this moment, right now. It is the only moment in which we live fully. The only moment in which we are fully alive. To appreciate this you need to become aware. First, that you’re not living fully in the moment. Then, by developing a practice that helps you develop greater awareness of the present moment.
You can accomplish this simply by tuning into all or some of your five senses.
Whatever you’re doing, whether it’s making a plan, reading, studying, creating a vision board at a free VISION BOARD PARTY (more info here), or meditating, bring your full awareness to your senses.
If you’re doing this during meditation, for instance, start by focusing on your breath.. If you start to relax and suddenly you hear someone hammering outside your window. Don’t resist it! FOCUS ON IT! You’re tuning in with your sense of hearing… Observe your annoyance: You’re tuning in to your body–your pulse rate usually goes up a bit when you’re annoyed, right? Are you outside? Do you feel a breeze against your skin?
Continue to move about your environment mindfully, fully experiencing everything through your senses.
Your senses are what connects you with this moment. You become more aware. With greater awareness comes greater intuition and clarity of thought. And with that comes the ability to choose more wisely from a greater number of possibilities.
You can start a mindfulness practice right this minute. You don’t need to go to a class, or spend any money. Connect yourself to this moment by feeling the air against your skin, your back against the chair, your feet on the floor. Do you feel or hear your heartbeat? Are you calm or anxious?
Whatever works for you. Become the observer. Sit quietly and observe and feel everything. If your mind wanders, observe that. Then bring it back to your breath, your posture, the sounds of birds, anything you can observe with your senses. That is mindfulness.
Do this for a few minutes every hour, or several times a day. I used to have a mindful clock on my computer; something I downloaded from the internet. It sounded like Big Ben. I could set it to ring at regular intervals, or randomly. When it gonged, I’d sit for a few moments and tune in to the present moment, then go back to work. I started this practice as a way of healing from medical trauma. My therapist was an expert in trauma and had done considerable research into the practice of mindfulness as a treatment for PTSD. It works.
Try it. What do you have to lose, except anxiety, stress, pain, high blood pressure–the list goes on. If you’d like to learn more about mindfulness I highly recommend books by Jon Kabat-Zinn, or his website which you can access here.
Join us on January 3, 2019 between 5-6:30 pm to create your vision for the coming year! Let us know you’re coming by email, or just call… Hope to see you at The Foundry on Northampton Street Thursday at 5!
As we approach the holidays I’ve been thinking a lot about the similarities in the way different spiritual traditions celebrate with themes of light. More than at any other time of the year, it is in this season of shortening days, when darkness prevails and seems to have won that people celebrate Light. Perhaps that’s because we take anything for granted when it’s abundant. Our appreciation for something seems only to come as we realize we’ve almost lost it.
So many people suffer with depression at this time of year; a darkness of the soul ensues and with it the ancient fear that all is as it always will be. In darkness our imagination–and our fears–grow. Be without light long enough and it’s hard to remember the feeling of safety it brings. It becomes easy to lose our optimism and give ourselves over to the night and its insecurities. No wonder in December we seek to beckon Light’s return. To light a candle in the darkness is to invite the spirit of hope back into our consciousness.
Maybe that’s why so many religions and spiritual traditions engage in celebrations of Light. Hanukkah commemorates the victory by the Jews over a tyrant king and the miracle of a small quantity of oil to light the Temple’s menorah miraculously lasting eight days. The 13th of November is huge celebration of light, Diwali, celebrated by Hindus, Sikhs and Jains, is a festival of triumph of good over evil celebrated with light displays, food and fireworks.. It’s a beautiful and colorful celebration. It is not surprising then that Kwanzaa, which celebrates African heritage in African-American culture, also is a celebration of light. In addition to a feast and gift giving. seven candles are lit to symbolize the seven core principles of Kwanzaa. Kwanzaa is celebrated very near Christmas.
Christmas, the celebration of the birth of Jesus of Nazareth, is not in sync with the historical birth of Jesus, but occurs just after the longest night of the year, as the earth slowly tilts once again towards the sun. I wonder if, back in ancient times, the darkness seemed to be winning when Jesus entered the picture. Things were fairly dire in the outposts of the Roman Empire, especially if you were ill or not well off materially; there was poverty and disease, and an Empire not too interested in anything besides tax collecting. For Christians, Jesus is “the Light of the World” that overcame the darkness. Perhaps that is one reason the celebration was moved from Spring to December, just after the winter Solstice.
Time and time again, candles are lit in celebration, commemoration, worship to give us hope and remind us that darkness always gives way to light. The thing is, you have to keep moving, keep bringing light, no matter how dark the night seems, or for how long.
Just as darkness enveloped the Empire, so night envelops us as we wait for the Solstice, which occurs just before we celebrate Christmas. We string small lights onto our homes and trees and sing songs of Peace and Joy. Light once again has overcome the dark. It did back then. It will again.
You will bring it.
For Aimee Levesque and me, Inclusive Theater of WNY is our candle in the darkness. It is the Light we offer to all those who wander in the darkness of exclusion, depression, judgement, fear, harassment, and hopelessness. Through our own difficult experiences we haven’t just come to believe–we KNOW–that to exclude anyone on the basis of something they cannot change (something core to their being) is to foist darkness upon the person, and the world. The world because we believe that each individual brings his/her own light and our calling is to help others to grow their own light and to share it. To extinguish the light of another is ultimate evil. Whether by shaming, blaming, ostracizing, or other means, it is soul murder not to acknowledge, validate and value the unique soul in every single person.
After more than 25 weeks, ITOWNY’s Writing Group is over for 2018!
We wrote for ourselves, for production, and even for publication! That is incredible!!
Thanks to everyone who attended! Look for more information on our 2019 Writing Group coming soon!
See you in 2019!
Start off 2019 the right way by creating a vision board with Inclusive Theater of WNY! Join us on Thursday, January 3, 2019 from 5pm – 6:30pm and set your intentions and visualize the outcomes for the new year!
This FREE event will allow participants to create artistic visual representations of their goals, hopes and dreams to give them a reference as they work through their road map for success.
Poster board, crayons, markers, glue and some magazines will be provided. Please bring any other pictures/supplies you wish to add to your vision board!
This is a FREE event and is open to all ages and levels of ability. However, only a limited number of spaces/supplies are available so you MUST RSVP to email@example.com. Reservations due by 12/28/2018.
Last evening my husband and I went to see Fiddler on the Roof at Shea’s Performing Arts Center in Buffalo, NY. We’ve each seen “Fiddler” a few times over the years and knew what to expect- and we looked forward to this beautiful, sad, humorous musical play. But from the first moments of the show we knew THIS production would be different. The set is a train station and a man is dressed in contemporary clothing (a red jacket). As he boards the train with many others, the doorway is turned and as the people mingle suddenly they all are in peasant clothing from a long ago time. The man in the red jacket becomes Tevya, the father with five daughters, husband of Golde, and he begins his conversation with God and sings of “Tradition”.
As we approach Election Day 2018 I am thinking of all the men who, like Tevya, are trying to feed and protect their families in a world that seems only to care for certain types of people. I’m thinking of all the women, who like Golde and her daughters, struggle to embody their true selves, to protect themselves and each other from what the world would impose on them and yes, what is imposed upon them in their own household, in the guise of “Tradition”.
I’m thinking of all the refugees who like the family in “Fiddler” find themselves suddenly and without warning forced from their homes, or those who choose to leave under threat of harm. Where is safe haven? And who will be allowed to go there?
Growing up in the America of the 1950s and 60s, I never had to worry about those kinds of questions. I read about people who did, but they were from other places, not here, in America. That could never happen here!
And yet earlier this year families were torn apart as they crossed the border into the US and as I write this, people still are fleeing their homes in South America to save their children
Fiddler on the Roof always has been an important and relevant play. By adding a contemporary note, the production we saw last night was made all the more powerful, current and relevant as, when the villagers begin their forced emigration to America, Tevya once again becomes the contemporary man in the red jacket, walking with the “others” against a backlit stage–shadow people walking, walking, walking, but to where? And to what?
One thing I know for sure is this: They are us.
We are happy to announce the following winners of the artwork from our walls! They are:
Top left and right: Susan Davidson
Bottom left: Susan Jaworski
Bottom right: Judy Burnett Christian
Thank you for supporting the artist and our show! Congratulations!!
Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU to everyone who came to and supported the show. We could not have done it without you!
WE LOVE YOU!!
To the cast and crew of And Where Will You Put the Things You Save? – you are extraordinary and we are so thankful that you honored us with your gifts. Onward! 💕
Stay tuned for information on our Spring production and our upcoming fundraiser! The #inclusionrevolution has just begun. Hold on to your hats! You ain’t seen nothing yet! 🙂