Posted in Uncategorized

Testing One’s Mettle

“What are you afraid of?” author Bob Mayer asked at a writing conference, “because that’s what’s holding you back as writers.”

At the time, it was social media–mastering new technology, committing to cranking out a weekly post. But I started a blog, and am glad I did.  Since my first blogpost I’ve made new friends, discovered photographic storytelling, which I love, and crossed a whopper off this writer’s to-do list.

Marriage was another commitment that terrified me, but I faced that fear too.

It took seven years before Thom and I felt brave enough to assume the awesome responsibility of parenthood.  It’s the most joyful, most difficult, most rewarding, and most important undertaking we’d ever signed on for, or ever will.

Whether we choose them ourselves or take what fate throws our way, the most daunting experiences are often the most edifying.

The most challenging ones tend to be the most rewarding.

With the toughest climbs come the best views.

After the kids were old enough to change their own diapers, we thought could rest on our laurels, but there was an unexpected twist to the parent/child relationship.

We raised kids who challenge themselves.  Bea watched her big brother do his math homework, and designed her own “Really Hard Math Problem.”

As they tested their own mettle, and created their own challenges…

…we were forced out of our comfort zones just to keep up.

Thom and I would never have chosen to go to the Amazon jungle if the kids hadn’t been keen to go.

It was hard to watch my kids twist and turn like little spiders on a web as they climbed 200 feet up into the canopy to zipline.  And for the first (and probably last) time in my life, I went ziplining too.  You never know when someone might need a bandaid or some bug repellant.

Only for my kid would I board a hot air balloon in Cappadocia, another thing I swore I’d never do. But it’s good to feel a fire in your belly and rise above your fears.

We are not extreme travelers.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: most of the adventures I have are in my own mind.  But for the sake of my kids, I’ve put on my big girl panties and donned a hard hat once or twice.

Sometimes you have to throw caution to the wind.

 I appreciate people who can lure me out of my comfort zone.

Sometimes it’s good to commit to a path with unexpected twists and bends.

I’m sure I’m a better person for it. And if nothing else, Life Outside The Comfort Zone provides great material for a writer.

All images and words copyright 2014 Naomi Baltuck.

NaomiPHOTO1-300ppi51kAqFGEesL._SY300_NAOMI BALTUCK ~ is a Contributing Editor and Resident Storyteller here410xuqmD74L._SY300_ at Bardo. She is a world-traveler and an award-winning writer, photographer, and story-teller whose works of fiction and nonfiction are available through Amazon HERE. Naomi presents her wonderful photo-stories – always interesting and rich with meaning and humor – at Writing Between the Lines, Life from the Writer’s POV. She also conducts workshops such as Peace Porridge (multicultural stories to promote cooperation, goodwill, and peaceful coexistence), Whispers in the Graveyard (a spellbinding array of haunting and mysterious stories), Tandem Tales, Traveling Light Around the World, and others. For more on her programs visit Naomi

Posted in General Interest, Naomi Baltuck, Photo Essay, Photography/Photographer

Forward Movement

Movement, big or little, is a part of human nature.  There are social movements…

And musical movements…

We use movement to express ourselves…

To test ourselves…

Out of playfulness…

…or out of necessity.

We celebrate forward movements…

The world keeps turning and so must we…

Don’t forget to have fun along the way.

…or to stop and smell the roses.

It’s okay if you move at your own pace…

…or to give and receive a little lift along the way…





All images and words Copyright 2012 Naomi Baltuck

NaomiPHOTO1-300ppi51kAqFGEesL._SY300_NAOMI BALTUCK ~ is a Contributing Editor and Resident Storyteller here410xuqmD74L._SY300_ at Bardo. She is a world-traveler and an award-winning writer, photographer, and story-teller whose works of fiction and nonfiction are available through Amazon HERE. Naomi presents her wonderful photo-stories – always interesting and rich with meaning and humor – at Writing Between the Lines, Life from the Writer’s POV. She also conducts workshops such as Peace Porridge (multicultural stories to promote cooperation, goodwill, and peaceful coexistence), Whispers in the Graveyard (a spellbinding array of haunting and mysterious stories), Tandem Tales, Traveling Light Around the World, and others. For more on her programs visit Naomi

Posted in Bardo News, Uncategorized

BARDO NEWS: reader and writer achievements, Victoria’s books, the growth of Niamh Clune’s independent press, Second Light Network calls for submissions

800px-Rafael_-_El_Parnaso_(Estancia_del_Sello,_Roma,_1511)WE CLOSE THE YEAR WITH KUDOS ALL AROUND for prodigious bloggers of every ilk with their plans for 2014 and their successes in 2013. So many of our readers and writers rose to the WordPress challenge of a post a day. Others took on special challenges related to seasonal changes or holiday events or their own personal sense of adventure. To name just a few:

  • From November 28 on, Terri Stewart (Slow Down, Begin Again: Spiritual Practices in Context) incorporated the work of many bloggers into a creative and joy-filled Advent Light event.
  • Instead of counting down on an Advent calendar, Priscilla Galasso (scillagrace) has been counting the free gifts we all get every day in a series of Advent essays that are beautifully written and both thoughtful and though provoking.
  • John Nooney (Johnbalaya), a faithful reader here, successfully incorporated his prodigious works from several blogs into one compact blog where he shares his many talents and interests including essays, poems, short stories, photography, and a love of music.
  • Beatrice Garrard (Adventures in Hats) started her first blog and will be joining us in 2014 as our college reporter with a monthly news post covering the arts and other topics of interest to us.
  • Liz  Rice-Sosne a.k.a. Raven Spirit (Noh Where) a devoted friend to Bardo has joined us as a core team member and will take an active leadership role in our collective Voices for Peace project. This is no small gift to us since she is also now a volunteer teacher of English-as-a-Second language. We hope she’ll share her thoughts and experiences on that effort as well. We have officially partnered our Voices for Peace project with 100,000 Poets, Musicians and Artists for Change.

There are many among us who don’t aspire to publication, but many do and they have successfully sold work to magazines and anthologies, won contests, and/or attracted publishers or chose to self-publish.

Victoria Slotto's Mom
Victoria Slotto’s Mom

Not the least is Victoria C. Slotto whose first novel was published in 2012 by Lucky Bat Press. From that experience she moved on to publish Jacaranda Rain: Collected Poems, 2012, now in a newly-minted paperback edition, and  Beating the Odds: Support for Persons with Early Stage DementiaWe took the time to read the latter this month and found it to be chockfull of commonsense suggestions that are easily incorporated into daily activities with which you can encourage your loved one. This work was inspired by Victoria’s care of her elderly mother and her experiences as a nurse.

The first section, Shoring Up Memory!, is alone worth the price of admission. She advises phone logs, maintaining a memory board and lists, and a commitment to maintaining a Day Timer and a journal. Other advice includes simplifying life: no over-booking, doing what can be done to minimize stress, and reworking the home so that it is as danger-free as possible. She provides information on getting legal advice, creating a team of helpers (our term, not hers), finding doctors and other health care providers. Victoria emphasizes the importance of physical and mental exercises, faith and prayer, and family support. Well done, Victoria. (Photo copyright, Victoria Slotto, All rights reserved.)

PLUM TREE BOOKS and THE BARDO GROUP have tied the knot and are collaborating to evolve our collective of artists and musicians, poets and writers, encouraging fellowship and appreciation.  Plum Tree Books (PTB) CEO, Niamh Clune, writes about PTB’s latest effort: “This is the bones of the news…  I have created, Plum Tree Books ~ INSIGHTS ~ A magazine about publishing, writing, children’s books, illustrating and poetry. I am receiving so many of your wonderful poems, and requests from people who would like to write for Plum Tree Books, that I thought this would be a great chance to expand our horizons and include more of your work as well as sharing insights into how we are growing, creating, and collaborating. This is all part of building the Plum Tree Books’ platform to give some of the wonderful talent expressed through FaceBook, blogs and The Bardo Group a broader exposure. Coming in January!”


51rk8frRwfL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_Her Wings of Glass (the title a quotation from Sylvia Plath) is to be a 200 page anthology that will complement but not repeat Second Light’s previous anthology (with Arrowhead Books), Images of Women. The focus of this anthology is ‘big issues’, for example the future of the planet, good and evil aspects of our relationship with the natural world and with each other, different aspects of our imaginative understanding of ‘who we are’.

The invitation is for up to six poems per submission, not more than 200 lines in total, with three copies of each poem to Dilys Wood at 3, Springfield Close, East Preston, West Sussex, BN16 2SZ, by January 15th 2014 together with the administrative fee of £5 (Second Light members) or £8 (non-members). Cheques payable to ‘Second Light’ or pay online at the poetry p f (online shop (filter to ‘Wings’). Non-UK submissions may be sent by e-mail as .doc or .pdf attachments, only to Second Light Administrator (poet Anne Stewart. ) Anne Stewart is a fabulous help with your technical questions. [Check out Anne’s poems HERE.]

Issue 11, November 2013 of ARTEMISpoetry is available now through Second Light Network and submissions are currently being accepted for the next issue. Details HERE.

BLOGGERS IN PLANET LOVE: This is a heads-up on our event in the planning for Valentine’s Day 2014. Details to be determined and announced. Look for more news about this collaborative effort addressing climate and environmental concerns and the meaning of nature in our lives.

WRITERS’ FOURTH WEDNESDAY with Victoria C. Slotto will resume on 22 January 2014, running every month up-to-and-including 22 October 2014.

… and, as the saying goes “last but not least” … a WW I memorial project of John Anstie’s (My Poetry Library and 42church group from Christ Church Stocksbridge featuring poet Ian McMillan …

Best wishes for the New Year from all of us to all of you. If you missed the deadline for this post, feel free to leave your announcement in the comments section. If you have something you’d like us to include in the next news post, leave a note here in the comment section as well or under any upcoming post and someone will get back to you. The next news post will go up on January 26, Sunday at 7 p.m. PST. The deadline for news submissions is Friday, January 24.

– The Bardo Group

Posted in General Interest, Jamie Dedes


“And it occurred to me that there is no such thing as blogging. There is no such thing as a blogger. Blogging is just writing — writing using a particularly efficient type of publishing technology.” Simon Dumenco, writer/blogger with Advertising Age



Jamie Dedes

Well, I’m back and with me my partners, Ann and Rob, and all of the wonderful writers and poets who have contributed and will continue to contribute to the richness of this blog. (Thank you!) Short story: I’ve been “occupying” or at least boycotting my former Internet Service Provider for poor customer service and for billing for services not rendered. This isn’t done in the spirit of meanness or revenge, but in the search for honesty and ethic and justice, though I will go to war if need be to get the billing corrected.  Meanwhile, after much research, I found new provider that has – according to online reviews and polling of friends – a better ethic and more reliability. One can only hope …

Most immediately, I plan to catch-up with our readers. I look forward to finding out what I missed in your blogs – your lives, your wisdom and joy, your art – over the past month. There is always the richness of spiritual practice, family, friends, books, music, and shows. Still, a vacuum was created during the month I was off-line. For your concerned email notes and for your comments here: thank you!

I have many fine submissions to organize for publication. Some require work before they can be published. I’m not sure how fast they’ll go up, but you won’t be disappointed when they do. Stay tuned …

 See you in the Blogosphere!

and, from all of us to each of you, thank you for reading and commenting here.


Posted in Essay, Jamie Dedes, Writing

THE HAPPY HOBBYIST: Personal Blogging Explored



Jamie Dedes

THE GREAT JOY OF THE BLOGGING HOBBY: IT COMBINES CREATIVITY WITH SOCIAL NETWORKING AND SELF-EDUCATION. The operative word in that statement is “joy.” I should know. I enjoy blogging so much that I have five personal blogs and one collaborative blog (this one), and they are all for fun, not money. (Ads are WordPress ads, not mine or ours.)

As I write this, alone hosts 72,467,611 sites with over 351 million people viewing more than 2.5 billion pages each month. users produce about 500,000 new posts and 400,000 new comments on an average day. While not all of these are personal (hobbyist) blogs, it’s probably safe to guess that most are.  [Those stats found HERE.]


professional view:

the study that inspired this post

Hobbyist Bloggers Are Us:  Personal blogging is a mostly American phenomenon, but it’s a recreational pastime that is gaining participation across the globe.

Cumulatively we are such a big chunk of humanity producing so much work and using computers for so many hours that we are the subject of disdain and admiration, debates and studies. One study by Computers in Human Behavior published in Science Direct is: Who Blogs? Personality Predictors of Bloggers*.

Using five measures of the NEO Personality Inventory, two sociological studies of American bloggers determined that individual differences based on the Big Five factors [neuroticism, extraversion, agreeableness, openness to experience, and conscientiousness] can predict who among us is likely to blog. It may not surprise you to learn that “openness to new experience” is a trait those of us who gravitate to blogging are likely to have. It might dismay you to learn that “high in neuroticism” is also one of our traits.


this would be me: I beg to differ

My best nonprofessional (I’m not a social scientist) and totally biased opinion about who blogs and why: My perception is that it is an outlet for the creative impulse, sharing information, and networking with people who have the same interests. This is an admittedly narrow view: My focus is writers and poets, amateur and professional. I don’t generally read mommy blogs or web journals or other such.

As an inveterate reader of blogs, bloggers seem to be as rich with family and friends and spiritual support as any other group with which I’m involved, but they are often solitary when it comes to an interest in poetry, reading, photography or art and so on. Even when they live in a densely populated area, there may be no access to poetry groups, writers’ groups, or book clubs. Blogs then become a meeting place for these shared interests. While we could share our poems, essays, or fiction with family and friends, this sharing may not be well-received and anyway – why?  The idea of constantly pulling out our poems or other creative efforts to show at every gathering doesn’t necessarily appeal. It feels rather like the creative version of multilevel marketing wherein you display whatever you’re selling, corner your best friends, and impose on them to buy.

It is also clear that some bloggers are using their blogs to practice their English skills, hone their writing skills, and get feedback on their work. For writers (amateur or professional) there is no better discipline than forcing oneself to produce consistently and on schedule.  Blogging provides a good structure for this. It is also an excellent place to test our more creative experiments.


whole world living

Bloggers often engage in whole-world living. With a growing international base, what an education to visit the sites of people around the world who are just regular folks – like neighbors – and not personalities, politicians, or commercial interests. The perspective from the ground is refreshing, informative, and sometimes inspiring. There are heroes everywhere.


to paraphrase John Locke, access is not license

Just my opinion ~ Personal pride and honor as well as respect for the original creative works of others – often born of long hard hours – dictates courtesy when reblogging or otherwise introducing a work: acknowledgement, link backs, by lines, and copyrights protections are always in order regardless of circumstance.

I am proud of our blogging community where, except in very rare cases, you will find refined moral compass, personal dignity, and the rights and concerns of others are respected. Professionalism (used here in the sense of competence and conduct, not occupation) is always in order for personal bloggers like us as well as the pro-bloggers.


Close you computer and go for a stroll:

advice for writers from Garrison Keillor


* Guadagno, R. E. et al., Who blogs? Personality predictors of blogging, Computers in Human Behavior (2007), doi:10.1016/j.chb.2007.09.001


Illustration courtesy of morgueFile.

Video uploaded to YouTube by .

Posted in Essay, Jamie Dedes



When we marched,
Through slimy mud past riot-shielded cops in Alexander
(This is the ghetto.)
While children peered wild-eyed from dark windows,
For some of us these were re-runs of earlier apartheid-burdened days.
But, then, it was defiant resolution that drove our hearts and braced our feet.
Now, sadness at betrayal sat sadly on our hearts.
Our shouted slogans hung heavy over us in grimy air.
We winced at familiar oft-repeated lies
Oft-repeated lies.

Dennis BrutusSouth African Poet/Activist (1924 – 2009), in Leafdrift




Jamie Dedes

There are people for whom poetry exists almost exclusively as an aid to social change, to political discourse– not as some sort of didacticism – but as a discussion, a wake up call, a way of approaching some truth, finding some meaning, encouraging resolution. I’m not one of them. I am as likely to write about the beautiful flowers that have just popped on my orchid – at last – or something my mom said fifty years ago as I am to write a poem on a social issue. But it does happen and quite often:  a horrific war photo, a news report of an injustice, a homeless person outside the grocery, a friend in pain that I can trace to some social issues, and the words start to flow. There’s the urge to respond, to do something – the urge to activism.

As I make my way around the blogosphere, I delight to see how many poets blog for causes – “worthy” causes as my mom would say – and I know that “worthy” is in the eye of the reader. War is big. For those poet-bloggers who are pacifists, this medium offers one means of passive resistance. Perhaps passivism is the strongest form of resistance and poetry the conscience of the collective soul.

In the 70s, the American author, poet, and musician, Gil Scott Heron, wrote The Revolution Shall Not Be Televised (video below). It comes to mind now. For those who remember, this might seem odd. It’s a Nixon-era piece, but we’re still struggling with the trivialities Heron is so beautifully strident about. And the revolution couldn’t be televised. It would be too big for one thing. Though Heron was addressing issues for blacks, I would submit that while we have different histories, we’re all struggling to stay afloat on the same broken-down raft.

In Dennis Brutus’ poem above, he points to the world we now live in. Having survived Robben Island with Nelson Mandella, he was freed only to find that while apartheid ended in South Africa it had become world-pervasive. The issue now he discovered was no longer race but economics: the few haves vs. the masses of  have-nots. And those who have just a bit – enough to feel safe and perhaps a bit smug – are just a hairbreadth away from have-not.

I can’t help but think that the revolution so many of us seek is rooted in transforming values. Hence, it is more evolutionary than revolutionary. As such, perhaps it is too gradual and pervasive to be televised. Perhaps it is evident in our blogosphere and the heart-born prose and poems of simple folk like you and me with nary a pundit or politician among us. Perhaps it’s a bottom-up thing, more likely to be blogged than broadcast, rising from homespun poetry – outsider literary art – sometimes rudimentary and awkward, but always quiet and true and slow like a secret whispered from one person to the next. It is perhaps something stewing even as we write, read, and encourage one another. Perhaps there is some bone and muscle in what we do. Individually we have miniscule “audiences.” Collectively we speak to enormous and geographically diverse populations.

I think I hear army boots a-marching, marching across networks everywhere. Or perhaps poetic fancy has caught my spirit today and all is dream …I hope not. Blog on …

So let some impact from my words echo resonance 
lend impulse to the bright looming dawn

Dennis Brutus

Video posted to YouTube by .

Illustration: Face the Monster  Frits Ahlefeldt, Public Domain