The Gift of Immigrants

Screen Shot 2016-02-22 at 9.47.58 AMYou’re young, alone, and surrounded by strangers who speak a language you don’t understand. You’re weary, having travelled thousands of miles into the unknown, because everything you knew and loved has been destroyed.

Meet Bessie

This is the tale of the woman Baltimore came to know as its premiere kosher caterer, Bessie Bluefeld. About 100 years ago she followed her husband Charles from Ukraine to settle in Baltimore.

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You can meet Bessie this weekend at the Atlas Intersections Festival, Atlas Performing Arts Center on H Street NE.

DC actor Terry Nicholetti performs this history/theater one-woman performance on Saturday at 1:30 and Sunday at 2:00 pm

GET TICKETS

Opening to the Universe, part 1

I owe you all a post or three from my recent travels in the Golden State. So here’s just one of the many highlights.

Josephine, my dear friend and east-to-west migrant got tickets for a planetarium show, and I thought, “Cool! I haven’t been to a Planetarium for decades!” I had no idea just how cool this would get.

The Kepler StoryThis show wasn’t JUST a planetarium show, it was The Kepler Story, written by Nina Wise and produced in incredible dome-surround audio-visual amazing magic at the California Academy of Sciences Planetarium. And if you are in or near the Bay Area, run don’t walk to get a ticket, it’s an awe-inducing experience.

The show consists of actor Norbert Weisser playing Kepler as he copes with the waves of change in his amazing life, against the backdrop of the universe, projected on the dome, plus an inspiring original score. It’s the first collaboration of planetarium in-the-round projection and live theater, and it’s intense, emotional and uplifting. The performance aspect is beautiful minimal stagecraft and a powerful solo performance, set against astonishing visuals that range from interiors of great architecture to Kepler’s mathematical imagination to the universe itself.

Nina Wise
Author & Director Nina Wise

Kepler’s personal story is fascinating and pivotal. He lived in the time of Galileo, defied the Roman church, a significant patron of math and science funding at the time and suffered the consequences. His mother was accused of witchcraft in retaliation for Kepler’s intellectual intransigence. He was working with the emerging yet still heretical idea of orbiting the sun, and his lasting legacy is the discovery that orbits are not circular but elliptical — a building block in the theories of gravity and relativity.

Kepler pursued his work with passion, intelligence and faith: not, perhaps the sort that his employers wished, but clearly a great faith in the beauty and harmony of the universe, as well as the god-given power of the human mind to comprehend it.

Coming Soon: Part 2: Opening the Gates of Awareness

All the Way

“Go into the arts. I’m not kidding. The arts are not a way to make a living. They are a very human way of making life more bearable. Practicing an art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow, for heaven’s sake. Sing in the shower. Dance to the radio. Tell stories. Write a poem to a friend, even a lousy poem. Do it as well as you possibly can. You will get an enormous reward. You will have created something.”

–Kurt Vonnegut

Monday  our writing group  held a discussion on “why we write,” someone offered this quote. Of course we laughed,but went on to share the ways writing has made our lives bearable and grown our souls  It was a powerful and moving conversation.

For years I’ve felt almost handicapped by being an artist. If I had a “real job” I could never give it my all, because my heart was in my creative work. In order to put my artist self first, If I don’t pursue my creative work, by soul shrivels. I’ve simplified my life,  lowered my material needs and expectations, in order to live the hours and days of my life as I choose: absorbing, reflecting, creating, sharing the wonder, beauty and terror of being alive.

alltheway_web_300x450_2The more committed I become more to living my artist life, the more old negative ideas slip away.  The quote made clear what is already happening: by honoring the Muse, by allowing the creativity to flow in and out, all my work is enhanced. Things I used to think were escapist, like watching television or reading, aren’t  ‘guilty pleasures,’ they’re sources of inspiration and understanding.

Last weekend I was in Boston for two days of mastermind meetings with one of my business teams. We shared challenges and  successes, and asked for solutions and support. I felt completely in my confident business self, not holding back, not afraid.

While I was there I learned that Bryan Cranston was on stage at Harvard’s American Reperatory Theater in a play called All the Way.

If I weren’t such a Breaking Bad fanatic  I never would have seen this amazing play. I I thought it was in NY. When I realized I was right there, I skipped lunch and got nearly the 17th of 20 standing room tickets. Bad knees or no, I was going to see Cranston on stage!

He plays Lyndon Johnson in his first year in the White House. Calling himself an accidental president, Johnson is challenged to carry on the bold civil rights mission of his predecessor, but also run for election. The play opens on the flight home from Dallas in November of 1963, and uses the countdown to Election Day 1964 to frame the turbulent drama of the times. Rev. Martin Luther King, J. Edgar Hoover, Hubert Humphrey, Stokely Carmichael, George Wallace, Robert McNamara make for a potent mix of characters.

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The challenge of moving forward while keeping the congress and the party together are remarkably pertinent today.

Of course, Cranston was incredible. I kept trying to see him behind the character, found him only in his animated face, and certain ways he throws up his hands. His LBJ was stubborn, foul-mouthed but funny, a Texan who both charmed and bullied his way toward his destiny. Having recently seen the very moving Lee Daniel’s The Butler, it was terrific to see the story from another angle.

It was thrilling to be there.

I’m just a painter of landscapes, a writer of little essays and stories, a marketing consultant. But the passions that flow through me are fueled by the media and art I consume, as well as the history I’ve lived through. My work with my art and blogging students makes me a better, wiser business woman. My fannish joy leads me to places I would never have discovered if I hadn’t been open to the stories, the colors, the people, the art.

Go into the arts. Seriously! You will have created your life.

Art Saves Lives

Rev. Delores Roberts

I want to introduce you to one of my clients, someone who’s passion, faith and creativity is dedicated to the children of Metropolitan DC.

Reverend Delores Roberts is the founder and director of Zoe Life Ministries, a non-profit organization devoted to improving the lives and education of disadvantaged kids. Starting in her home community of Capitol Heights, MD, Rev. Roberts has created literacy and arts programs for kids of all ages. Her tireless commitment to her work is inspiring, and her creativity is evident in everything she does.

Zoe Life Ministries now runs a book club, a performing arts program and the Stop-the-Violence Teen Peace Summit, in addition to developing the I-read program and other special projects. Right now she is in the final rehearsals for her latest stage musical “Day of Reckoning” opening December 3rd. You can see rehearsal videos and find updated news about the show here.

Rev. Roberts introduces Essay Contest winners

Reverend Delores is a people-person. She works with kids of all ages and does it from the heart, every moment.  A recent post on her blog describes meeting an angel at Staples! The Reverend inspires her kids to read, write, draw, dance and sing, and it’s been very inspiring for me to watch her work her special magic.

But learning to edit a web site and publish her own blog was really challenging to her at first. I am so proud of her persistance and accomplishment on the revitalized Zoe Life Ministries website we set up together.

Now Rev. Delores keeps a blog about her projects and community events, as well as encouraging discussion of the issues that challenge our children every day.

This Friday, Zoe Life Ministries is celebrating ten years of inspiring programs that lift up “the least, the last and the lost.” The Tenth Anniversary Fundraising Gala and Zoe Awards promises to be another special event with special performances by Zoe Kids, Awards honoring members who have brought life to the community, a delicious feast and more.

I’d like to invite you to come along and support this amazing organization. I know schedules are full and budgets are tight, but I would for you to be there, or at least make a donation to Rev. Delores’ work.

Here’s how you can join the celebration:

Tickets for the Gala are $50 for adults and $20 for children under 12. Tax deductible donations of any size are welcome. Call Zoe Life Ministries at 301/350-0688, email zoelife3@gmail.com, and/or send a donation to  910-Applewood St, Capitol Hgts,MD 20743.

I’ll see you there!