Posted in Naomi Baltuck, Photo Essay, Photography/Photographer

Who Turned On the Lights?

People find the light in their life in so many ways and places.  It can be as easy as turning on a switch.


Some find all the light they need in a sunset…

…or a moonrise.

Others find illumination in a church…

…a synagogue…

…a mosque…

…or a library.

Sacred is a place that lights up your heart.

It isn’t always easy to find…

Some look for it in food…

…at the bottom of a wine glass…

…or through yoga…

Some light up with the joy and anticipation of adventure.

And what constitutes an adventure is very personal.

Sometimes light comes in the form of a bright idea, a flash of inspiration…

The joy of creation in all of its many forms…

Everyone’s light shines through differently.  To each his own.

For me, love shines brightest of all.

It’s our life’s work and pleasure to follow the light…

…or to make our own.

It is there.

It is there.

It is there.

All words and images copyright 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, John Anstie, Music

Hide and Seek

[This impressive one man a cappella video wall production of Imogen Heap’s composition “Hide and Seek” brings me to another parallel of poetry. I should say that, whilst I much prefer live performance to what seems to be music’s equivalent of Photoshop’s adjustment and stitching process in photography, the main focus of the piece rests on this particular song written by Heap. Heap’s own production of it became a significant international hit when it was chosen to play out the finale of series two of “The O.C.” in 2005. It also featured in the film “The Last Kiss” amongst others a year or two later.

I chose this cover rather than her own production, because, well, because I have my own preference for a polyphonic choral sound. She is one of those impressively industrious creative musicians, who manage to make music and rhythm from an extraordinary array of instruments and production techniques. She is a singer, songwriter and producer with her own record label, which must take a lot of doing – being a creative and managing the show require a whole lot of different skills and aptitudes – hence my admiration for such talent, but, above all this, she wrote lyrics, which come close to poetry in their use of metaphor and their inclination to conjure absorbing imagery that leaves a lot open to interpretation. Great lyrics, nay poetry, is what separates journeyman songwriters from the great ones. I’d like to know what you think. I hope you derive some enjoyment from this piece, either in the performance, or the words, or both. My favourite lines are “Ransom notes keep falling out your mouth. Mid-sweet talk, newspaper word cut-outs.” What do you think?]

“Hide And Seek”

Where are we? What the hell is going on?
The dust has only just begun to fall,
Crop circles in the carpet, sinking, feeling.
Spin me ’round again and rub my eyes.
This can’t be happening.
When busy streets amass with people
Would stop to hold their heads heavy.

Hide and seek.
Trains and sewing machines.
All those years they were here first.

Oily marks appear on walls
Where pleasure moments hung before.
The takeover, the sweeping insensitivity of this still life.

Hide and seek.
Trains and sewing machines. (Oh, you won’t catch me around here)
Blood and tears,
They were here first.

Mmm, what you say?
Mm, that you only meant well? Well, of course you did.
Mmm, what you say?
Mm, that it’s all for the best? Of course it is.
Mmm, what you say?
Mm, that it’s just what we need? And you decided this.
What you say?
Mmm, what did you say?

Ransom notes keep falling out your mouth.
Mid-sweet talk, newspaper word cut-outs.
Speak no feeling, no I don’t believe you.
You don’t care a bit. You don’t care a bit.

(hide and seek)
Ransom notes keep falling out your mouth.
Mid-sweet talk, newspaper word cut-outs.
(hide and seek)
Speak no feeling, no I don’t believe you.
You don’t care a bit. You don’t care a bit.

(hide and seek)
You don’t care a bit.
You don’t care a bit.
You don’t care a bit.
(hide and seek)
You don’t care a bit.
You don’t care a bit.

Lyrics and music © 2005 Imogen Heap and Warner Music Group, all rights reserved


JOHN ANSTIE (My Poetry Library and 42) ~ is a British poet and writer, a contributing editor here at Bardo, and multi-talented gentleman self-described as a “Family man, Grandfather, Occasional Musician, Amateur photographer and Film-maker, Apple-MAC user, Implementation Manager, and Engineer. John participates in d’Verse Poet’s Pub and is a player in New World Creative Union. He’s been blogging since the beginning of 2011. John is also a member of The Poetry Society (UK).



51w-rH34dTL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_AA300_SH20_OU01_John has been involved in the recent publication of two anthologies that are the result of online collaborations among two international groups of amateur and professional poets. One of these is The Grass Roots Poetry Group, for which he produced and edited their anthology, “Petrichor* Rising. The other group is d’Verse Poet Pub, in which John’s poetry also appears The d’Verse Anthology: Voices of Contemporary World Poetry, produced and edited by Frank Watson.

Petrichor – from the Greek pɛtrɨkər, the scent of rain on the dry earth.

Posted in poem, Poems/Poetry, poetry

New Mother, Turning to the Kora

20140104-184807When you still fit
my arms
like an instrument
beating rhythms
at my heart, you would, at times,
cry without cease,
without reason–without reason that I
could reason out–and I, almost without
reason myself, would play a music
of Kora and guitar
in which the strings,
sounding of bells,
plucked us from the closed-in walls
and wails,
lifted us
from the hard wood floor we walked, transported us
to some bigger brighter world where sun streamed
vibrationally, where leaves echoed, where
life strolled, where tears caught in scrunched cheeks seemed almost
ripples re-centering a well
on a day when one
craved water, a natural wrinkle
of wells and water.

Whirled shine glinted
upon our faces whether we looked
up or down, and even though, in that apartment,
metal gates shadowed the nearest windows;
we knew–even as an infant you could hear–
that the music held want as well
as tinkle, that knells mourn even as
they proclaim, that the lone also
still you at last would smile, me
too, as if both of us were tuned
by those stringed scales,
so gratefully tethered.

– Karin Gustafson

© 2014, original artwork, poem and portrait (below), Karin Gustafson, All rights reserved

Kora ~ a twenty-one string bridge-harp used extensively in West Africa

photo-46KARIN GUSTAFSON (Manicddaily) ~ a guest contributor to Bardo focuses (sometimes) on the interface between creativity and stress, with a side of little elephant drawings. She is a writer and illustrator, having published a collection of poetry, Going on Somewherea children’s counting book, 1 Mississippi ( for lovers of light, water. and pachyderms) and, most recently,Nose Divea light-hearted mystery novel about teenagers, Broadway musicals, love, noses, New York City.  (More information about the books may be found at and at Amazon.)  Since July 2009, Karin has been engaging visitors to her blog with her observations, poetry and artwork, especially her elephant sketches and cartoons. She is an active participant in d’Verse Poets Pub and a member of its d’Team.

Posted in General Interest, Music, Niamh Clune

When The Dreamer Meets The Dreamed.

I thought I might tell it in music. I hope you enjoy listening.

From the CD Touching Angels:

430564_3240554249063_1337353112_n-1orange-petals-cover_page_001DR. NIAMH CLUNE (Plum Tree Books Blog) ~ is the author of the Skyla McFee series: Orange Petals in a Storm, and Exaltation of a Rose. She is also the author of The Coming of the Feminine Christ: a ground-breaking spiritual psychology. Niamh received her Ph.D. from Surrey University on Acquiring Wisdom Through The Imagination and specialises in The Imaginal Mind and how the inborn, innate wisdom hidden in the soul informs our daily lives and stories. Niamh’s books are available in paperback (children’s books) and Kindle version (The Coming of the Feminine Christ). Dr. Clune is the CEO of Plum Tree Books and Art. Its online store is HERE.  Niamh’s Amazon page is HERE.

Posted in Dance, Disability, General Interest, Music, Video

Stepping out of devastation: “Level Up” with Vienna Teng, featuring b-boy Tommy Guns-Ly of ILL-Abilities

Our thanks to Laurel D. for sharing Vienna Teng’s video with us …

This crowd-funded (Kickstarter) video by the remarkable singer and song-writer Vienna Teng was released in December. The song Level Up is featured in her album Aims which was released last September. In this video, Ms. Teng moves through four scenes of devastation including one featuring b-boy Tommy Guns-Ly, dancer, bone cancer survivor and amputee. Tommy Guns-ly is part of the ILL-Abilities crew.

“Originally created in 2007 with the idea of being a “Super Crew” of disabled dancers, it is now becoming a global movement helping to spread the message: No Excuses, No Limits. ILL-Abilities’ mission is to redefine society’s view of disability, promote empowerment, and encourage limitless possibilities through motivational entertainment.”
Source: Breakin Convention.

“I am unstoppable.” Tommy Guns-Ly

Posted in Music

A Gift to Share With You … whether or not you are celebrating Christmas




From The Bardo Group Core Team

John Anstie

Naomi Baltuck

Terri Stewart

Corina Ravenscraft

Jamie Dedes

Josepth Hesch

Karen Fayeth

Victoria C. Slotto

Liz Rice-Stone

Michael Watson

Niamh Clune

Priscilla Galasso

Lily Negoi

Charlie Martin

Posted in Essay, Spiritual Practice, Terri Stewart

Sacred Space in Music

Probably most of us connect to music of some sort. And we all have our favorites. My favorites are a moving target…sometimes Katy Perry and sometimes Arvo Part. I’d like to consider that all music is sacred in some way. The creative spirit arriving and making something new. But, I admit, I can be an old fuddy duddy when I hear some of the music the youth I work with listen to. On the other hand, it is definitely a creative expression of their understanding of life; it is a way that they share their story.

What I’d like to consider for an exercise in capturing sacred space today, is not just any old music or reflection on your favorite song, but an exercise of audio divina. Listening with a contemplative spirit. I have chosen the Amen chorus from Handel’s Messiah. I chose this because Amen, strictly translated, means “So be it!” and it is a soaring and beautiful ending to this grand piece of music. So get comfortable! Here we go!

The earth has music for those who listen.”  ― George Santayana

I invite you to use this extraordinary listening and enter into the contemplative prayer practice of Audio Divina using the video and the steps outlined below.

  1. Explore the music. Listen once. Journal any notes you wish to make about the piece.
  2. Go deeper, listen a second time. Where were your ears drawn? What feelings rose up? Engaging your imagination, enter the music. Where are you? What are you doing? Do you see something differently from this vantage point? What relationships do you notice? Journal your reflections.
  3. Allow the music to lead you into a time of meditation Silently, offer prayers of gratitude, intercession, lament, confession, or praise – whatever wells up in you. If you wish, journal these prayers.
  4. Adjust your sitting position so that you are comfortable. You can continue listening to the music with your eyes closed.  Release tension in your neck, shoulders, arms, hands, legs and feet. Breathe deeply and slowly. Find your quiet center.  Rest in this quiet for 10-15 minutes, being open to all that is within you. Allow thoughts to drift past you as if they were clouds. If your mind wanders, that is okay, call it back to attention when you are able. At the end of this time, slowly open your eyes. Breathe deeply. Journal any insights you want to remember, actions you are invited to take, and any thoughts or feelings that are present. You may have only had random thoughts flying though your mind the entire time. Journal about that. Be gentle with yourself and have no expectations of grand revelations. The point is to practice and to offer quiet time to be attentive .
  5. Close by lifting up your gratitudes and thanksgivings.

If this music does not appeal, use this same process with music of your choice.

It is not often that we get the chance to listen to something-not for the pleasure it gives us, but for what it can teach us. I hope you can find a little sacred space in the music you choose to learn from.

Shalom and Amen,


For a longer experience that delves into the beautiful music of Handel’s Messiah. You could listen to Part 3 (below).

© 2013, post, Terri Stewart, All rights reserved

terriREV. TERRI STEWART is Into the Bardo’s  Sunday chaplain, senior content editor, and site co-administrator. She comes from an eclectic background and considers herself to be grounded in contemplation and justice. She is the Director and Founder of the Youth Chaplaincy Coalition that serves youth affected by the justice system. As a graduate of Seattle University’s School of Theology and Ministry, she earned her Master’s of Divinity and a Post-Master’s Certificate in Spiritual Direction. She is a contributing author to the Abingdon Worship Annual. (The 2014 issue just released!)

Her online presence is “Cloaked Monk.” This speaks to her grounding in contemplative arts and the need to live it out in the world. The cloak is the disguise of normalcy as she advocates for justice and peace. You can find her at ,, and  To reach her for conversation, send a note to

Posted in Br. David Steindl-Rast, Film/Documentaries/Reviews, Meditation, Music

The Ultimate Grace of Gratitude

The heart of this little gem is the gift of the very dear Br. David Steindl-Rast. If you are familiar with Br. David’s philosophy, writing, and voice, you will have immediately recognized who wrote and delivered the narrative though for some strange reason he is not credited.


Viennese, Catholic Benedictine Monk

Br. David is notable for his work fostering dialogue among the faiths and for exploring the congruence between science and spirituality. Early in his career he was officially designated by his abbot to pursue Catholic-Buddhist dialogue. He studied with several well-known Zen masters. He is the author of feature articles, chapter contributions to collections, and books. Among the most notable are Belonging to the Universe (with Frijof Capra) and The Music of Silence: A Sacred Journey Through the Hours of the Day (with Sharon Lebell). Br. David is the co-founder of A Network for Grateful Living, dedicated to the life-transforming character of gratitude.


Louie Schwartzberg, the film-maker, is an American and well-known for his time-lapse photography. The short-film here is one of several – each with a different theme – which you can find on YouTube.


The mood music background is by composer Gary Malkin. “He is founder of Musaic and Wisdom of the World™, a media production company and web site. He is also the co-founder of Care for the Journey, a care-for-the-caregiver initiative for healthcare professionals.” MORE

Video uploaded to YouTube by 

Photo credit ~ Br. David Steindl-Rast, courtesy of Verena Kessler. She has released the photograph into the public domain.

Posted in Environment/Deep Ecology/Climate Change, Essay, First Peoples, Michael Watson, Music

Emergent Universe Oratorio Blues

Breeding Barn, Shelburne at FarmsRecently we traveled down to Shelburne Farms for the world premiere of the Emergent Universe Oratorio, composed by Sam Guarnaccia.  The Oratorio is a work that re-imagines the dominant culture’s physics-based creation narrative, and seeks to universalize the story. Before the Oratorio we were treated to the soulful playing of Eugene Friesen, of Paul Winter Consort fame. New Paintings, created for the event,by our friend, the marvelous artist, Cameron Davis, graced the walls in the remarkable, “cathedral-like” Breeding Barn.

Just prior to the performance, Mary Evelyn Tucker and John Grim, Co-Directors of the Forum on Religion and Ecology at Yale, and whose film of the same title was the inspiration for the oratorio, spoke. They acknowledged, and expressed appreciation for, Indigenous friends and adopted family. (No Indigenous people spoke.) They then spoke about a vision they hold, in which all of the Earth’s people have one creation story, a story that leads us to an Earthly paradise.

The Oratorio draws on texts from many Western traditions, but appears to include no Indigenous authors. This is problematic and, unfortunately, common in the Deep Ecology world. ( I have been reviewing Ecopsychology texts in preparation for teaching and have noticed a paucity of Indigenous voices, even in texts published this year.)

Of more concern is the notion that any narrative should be the ONLY narrative. This is an idea Indigenous people know well, whether presented in the guise of religious or economic dogma. The very idea of a universal point of view is imperial and colonizing, and alien to Native American cultures. We have many creation stories, each loved and valued.

I was feeling rather blue as I read the text and listened to the lovely melodies of the oratorio. I imagined myself to be the only one in the audience of hundreds who was discomforted. Then intermission came and others stopped by to share their concerns. As so often happens following such events, the concert has remained a topic of conversation at our house.

A few days ago I was having coffee with a Six Nations friend. Out of the blue he looked me in the eye and said, “I am so appreciative of time with you. It’s such a relief to not have to explain myself.” When I asked what he meant, he replied that I understood his struggles and, although we are from different tribal backgrounds, we share a similar ethos. Sometimes I forget how wide the divide between cultures can be in one geographically defined country. To be reminded, as I was at the concert, of the chasm we cross daily can be painful indeed.

– Michael Watson, Ph.D.

© 2013, essay and photographs (includes the one below), Michael Watson, All rights reserved

michael drumMICHAEL WATSON, M.A., Ph.D., LCMHC (Dreaming the World) ~ is a contributing editor to Into the Bardo, an essayist and a practitioner of the Shamanic arts, psychotherapist, educator and artist of Native American and European descent. He lives and works in Burlington, Vermont, where he teaches in undergraduate and graduate programs at Burlington College,. He was once Dean of Students there. Recently Michael has been teaching in India and Hong Kong. His experiences are documented on his blog. In childhood he had polio, an event that taught him much about challenge, struggle, isolation, and healing.

Posted in Cindy Taylor, Guest Writer, Illness/life-threatening illness, Music, Poems/Poetry

Matastasize, an awkward word

an awkward word,
vowels lurking with malice
between those rock hard t’s
and stumbling past that sinister s,
into that endless z…
Even educated women know;
the seeds of broken dreams will gather
nearest to the heart
and grow
until the Gardener’s sharpened shears
snip away the wretched, rotted root.
That puckered rose, that brutal scar,
my brave and beautiful friend;
wear it as a medal:
triumphant, survivor, heroine!

– Cindy Taylor

© 2008 – 2011, poem and portrait (below), Cindy Taylor, All rights reserved
Photo credit ~ MesserWoland via Wikipedia under CC BY A-SA 3.0 Unported License


Minnie Julia Riperton (1947-1979), American singer-songwriter: In January 1976 Riperton was diagnosed with breast cancer and underwent a modified radical mastectomy. Though she was given just six months to live, she continued recording and touring, and in 1977 she became spokesperson for the American Cancer Society. Riperton was one of the first celebrities to go public with her breast cancer diagnosis, but did not disclose that she was terminally ill. In 1978, Riperton also received the prestigious Society’s Courage Award presented to her at the White House by then-President Jimmy Carter. She died at age 31 on July 12, 1979.



♥ ♥ ♥ ♥


CINDY TAYLOR ~ originally contributed this piece to us in 2011 for our Perspectives on Cancer series. She is multitalented: a freelance writer, a poet, editor and proofreader. She also has an abiding passion for food  and an endearing zeal for life, which she shares with us on her award-winning blog, The Only Cin. Cindy lives in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Posted in Art, Humor, Music

A Cheeky Spin on Art History by “Hold Your Horses!,” a polyphonic rock band from Paris

A bit of Bardo on the light side. Warning: Artistic nudity.

Video posted to YouTube by 

This irreverent music video for 70 Million, the hit song by the Franco-American band, Hold Your Horses!, offers a wink at art history. The inventive seven-member group playfully recreated twenty-five iconic paintings – can you name them all? – from Da Vinci to Andy Warhol. Enjoy!

What follows is a video using the original paintings with the artist’s name on each. If you care to, you can check it out to see if you got all the paintings and artists right when you viewed the first video.

Video posted to YouTube by .
Posted in Marilynn Mair, Music, Poems/Poetry, Poets Against War Week

The First Lady of Mandolin, her poem and her music

me-261let’s make peace and give it a chance
make dinner and serve it up hot
let’s make love and marry or not
make some babies teach them to dance
make good music a grand entrance
make time without asking what for
make art make dreams come true and more
make mistakes make amends make tea
make someone laugh make them happy
let’s make a better world not war

– Marylinn Mair

I have been trying to write a poem about peace for my friend  Jamie’s  Poets Against War. Everything came out so stilted– no point trying to force the muse– until I was in the airport in Rio thinking about my family and events of the past few weeks, and this decima just popped out. A bit late but heartfelt. M. M.

© 2013, poem and photographs, Marilynn Mair, All rights reserved

Enigmatica_Blue-House_cover-150x150MARILYNN MAIR (Celebrating a Year, blog and marilynn mair mandolin, website) ~ is a contributor to Into the Bardo.  She is a Professor of Music at Roger Williams University and internationally recognized as the “First Lady of the Mandolin”. Marilynn spends part of the year in Rio de Janeiro, where she researches and performs Choro music, a post-colonial Brazilian instrumental style dating back to the mid-19th century. She’s written two books on mandolin and has several albums out.  Here she is – for those new to the Bardo – with Água no Feijão in Brazil.

Marilynn’s Amazon page is HERE. I have written more extensively about Marilynn and choro HERE.  J. D.

Posted in Essay, Music, mystic, Peace & Justice, Photo Essay, Photography/Photographer, Poems/Poetry, Poets Against War Week, Spiritual Practice, Terri Stewart

Peace Give I to Thee

Wow, the first in the series of Poets Against War or Poets for Peace. Hopefully I can do it justice! In riffing on peace and war, several things came together in my mind – or rather, many things came hopping through it! I hope the resulting series of images, words, and music will act as a meditation for you on this first day of Poets Against War. This will be synchro-posted at my blog, Feel free to reblog or synchropost elsewhere just link back to here.

First, a meme (my new favorite weird thing to do – make memes)…


Second, I have been noodling this around and the predominant thought I had was to sing a duet with my son, Colin Stewart. Colin is 17 and much more talented than I! But we held it together in order to sing an old church song, Peace Give I to Thee. Colin is playing the ukelele and singing. I confess that our sound system is not wonderful, so we both tempered ourselves to not blow out the microphones. It is accompanied by photos I took in the Bellevue Botanical Garden which bring me incredible peace.

Finally, the nature of the quest: Poets Against War or Poets for Peace. So black and white, it begs a reflection.


war destroys peace

hate destroys love

butterfly destroys chrysalis

child destroys dandelion

lion destroys lamb

lamb redeems lion

dandelion redeems child

chrysalis redeems butterfly

love redeems hate

peace redeems war



And another old favorite, “Breathe Deep” by the Lost Dogs which speaks to the unity of all-even when we are uncomfortable with that unity.

Peace Out!


© 2013, post and photos, Terri Stewart, All rights reserved

terriREV. TERRI STEWART is Into the Bardo’s  Sunday chaplain, senior content editor, and site co-administrator. She comes from an eclectic background and considers herself to be grounded in contemplation and justice. She is the Director and Founder of the Youth Chaplaincy Coalition that serves youth affected by the justice system. As a graduate of Seattle University’s School of Theology and Ministry, she earned her Master’s of Divinity and a Post-Master’s Certificate in Spiritual Direction. She is a contributing author to the Abingdon Worship Annual. (The 2014 issue just released!)

Her online presence is “Cloaked Monk.” This speaks to her grounding in contemplative arts and the need to live it out in the world. The cloak is the disguise of normalcy as she advocates for justice and peace. You can find her at,, and

Posted in Beauty, Creative Nonfiction, find yourself, General Interest, Karen Fayeth, memoir

The Turtle and The Hare

As a little bit of back story, in the course of my life, I spent quite a few years in the company of a blues musician. By spending a little time with him, I also spent time around a lot of different blues musicians.

Men and women with a deep vein of soul and history and rhythm.

When you are around blues people, you hear a lot of stories. Telling stories is pretty much the foundation of being able to play the blues. As a storyteller in my own right, I used to soak in these stories, letting them enter my pores and fill my soul and tap my DNA on the shoulder and ask it to dance.

The stories are in me. Not all of them are true. Few of them are pretty.

All of this is a long winded lead up to a particular story I have in mind.

It goes something like this:

Back in the 1950’s in a small suburb of Dallas, Texas, two talented brothers grew up together.

Both had music in their bones and talent for playing the guitar. The world knows a little bit more about Stevie Ray Vaughan because of his breathtaking musical style and early death, but Jimmie Vaughan has also seen a fair bit of success with his music.

If you listen to each of their music, you can hear their very different styles. Stevie’s music was intense, complicated and at times frenetic. Jimmie likes to play a bit slower and wider and easier.

Legend has it that back in the day in Oak Cliff, Texas both boys not only liked guitars but they liked cars.

Stevie, unsurprisingly, liked real fast hot rod cars that he could jump in and race around town. Stevie used to vex the local police who couldn’t slow him down.

Jimmie on the other hand liked to cruise. He liked big, heavily finned, tuck and roll upholstered, Buick with a “smile” kind of cars. He’d put his girlfriend beside him on the bench seat and slowly roll through town, vexing the local police who wanted him to speed up.

I think of this story pretty frequently in relation to my own roll through life. My approach is more Jimmie than Stevie, though I admire Stevie very much.

Perhaps this owes to the slow “land of mañana” pace of where I grew up. We don’t move with alacrity in New Mexico and tend to be suspicious of those who do. When I still lived in the state and traveled to San Francisco or Boston for work, I was always comforted to come home, get off the plane, and visually see how slow people moved. Then I would match my pace to theirs and know I was home.

There is a great comfort in moving at a calm pace.

I find, however, that is not how the world thinks one should move.

Let’s take for example, New York City. In New York, you are supposed to walk fast. Very fast. Head straight, eyes forward, and walk.

Despite how much I love Manhattan, I have quite a hard time keeping up. The Good Man (my husband) was born in Brooklyn so moving at that pace comes natural. It does not come natural for me. I prefer to toddle along closer to the buildings and let the people pass me by on the outside of the sidewalk.

I am the person that New Yorkers yell at for walking too slow.

This all came back to mind this past week. It is New York Fashion week and I follow Nina Garcia, Marie Claire magazine’s Creative Director, on various social networking sites.

She has been posting photos from all of the various designer shows and I have been lapping them up like at kitten at a bowl of milk.

I may not have a figure for fashion, but I love it. I love seeing how textiles and stitches and notions come together to create something fantastic or ugly or offbeat.

So a couple of days ago, Ms. Garcia posted a photo of a sign she saw backstage at the Michael Kors Spring show. Oh my, I am a huge fan of Mr. Kors.

Here is the photo:

I read the words and my heart sank a little. I am happily romantic, strong and my own version of gorgeous.

But I don’t walk fast and with energy.

I would love to kill them with chic, but instead I must maintain my killer sense of humor.

For some reason, this really got under my skin and whispered to those demons in my head who heckled me and said that if I can’t walk fast and with energy, I am a nobody. They said I don’t measure up, don’t belong, don’t matter because I can’t keep up.

And that’s when I remembered the story about the Vaughan brothers.

I don’t need to race up and down the streets of New York. There are plenty of people who have that covered. I want to cruise the Manhattan blocks and tip my head upward to wonder at the buildings and smile and give my lungs room to breathe.

Slow though I walk, I always get where I’m going. Pink cheeked, a little sweaty and smiling.

Perhaps I am taking this hand written sign a little too close to heart. I’m sure this was simply a note of encouragement for the models walking the runway, reminding them to keep it peppy and light.

Perhaps it just hit me on a bad day when the demons were a little closer to the open door than I would like. I let them out to play awhile, really let them run, then I whistled and corralled them back into the pen.

And I remembered that a strong, courageous New Mexican doesn’t have to walk fast unless she wants to. That is true both when walking the Bosque or NYC’s Broadway.

A girl should be two things: classy and fabulous.

–Coco Chanel

Thankfully, I am both.

–Karen Fayeth

© 2013, essay, Karen Fayeth, All rights reserved

Photo from the Instagram feed of Nina Garcia. All rights belong to her.

webheadshotKaren Fayeth ~ is one of our regular writers. She is our tech manager, site co-administrator along with Jamie and Terri, and fiction and creative nonfiction editor. She blogs at Oh Fair New Mexico. Born with the writer’s eye and the heart of a story-teller, Karen Fayeth’s work is colored by the Mexican, Native American, and Western influences of her roots in rural New Mexico complemented by a growing urban aesthetic. Karen now lives in the San Francisco Bay area. When she’s not spinning a tale, she works as a senior executive for science and technology research organization.

Karen has won awards for her writing, photography, and art. Recent publication credits include a series of three features in New Mexico magazine, an essay with the online magazine Wild Violet, and a short story in Foliate Oak. Her story “What Leibniz Never Learned” will appear in the Fall edition of The Storyteller.

Posted in Essay, Music, Spiritual Practice

Pondering – on silence

the work of Liliana Negoi

389px-Faras_Saint_Anne_(detail)I was reading about John Cage today and his famous piece, 4’33”. As you may know, that is a composition conceived in 1952, meant for any instrument (or combination of instruments), and the score instructs the performer(s) to not play the instrument(s) during the entire duration of the piece, which is meant to consist of the sounds of the environment that the listeners hear while it is performed, although it is commonly perceived as “four minutes thirty-three seconds of silence”.

The reason why I was reading that is less important, the irony was that there was an awful amount of noise around me while I was plunging into Cage’s reasons to write a piece about silence. Now, precisely at the time when I was sort of praying for a miracle that would stop all that noise, my eyes fell on the fragment quoted below:

“In 1951, Cage visited the anechoic chamber at Harvard University. An anechoic chamber is a room designed in such a way that the walls, ceiling and floor absorb all sounds made in the room, rather than reflecting them as echoes. Such a chamber is also externally sound-proofed. Cage entered the chamber expecting to hear silence, but he wrote later, ‘I heard two sounds, one high and one low. When I described them to the engineer in charge, he informed me that the high one was my nervous system in operation, the low one my blood in circulation.’ Cage had gone to a place where he expected total silence, and yet heard sound. ‘Until I die there will be sounds. And they will continue following my death. One need not fear about the future of music.’ The realisation as he saw it of the impossibility of silence led to the composition of 4′33″.”

And lo! While I was reading that, the huge noise around me stopped, and I was able to hear the music of my neurons, chewing on the relative silence suddenly fallen upon my surroundings . Quite a poetic coincidence, if I may add.
But coming back to the point, what people grew to call as “silence” is merely the absence of sounds. An absence otherwise relative, as demonstrated by the quote above – for our own body always plays its own music, above the absolute state of silence. Sometimes we like it, sometimes we don’t, simply because silence, like all things, is sometimes necessary, and other times it should be replaced by something else. There can be silence in the middle of the storm, as well as it can lack in the middle of some anechoic chamber. What matters most is not the physical silence that we experience, but the mental one, when the mind comes to that state of silence called peace – because that is when we actually “hear” our soul.

– Liliana Negoi

© 2013, essay, portrait below, and book cover art, Liliana Negoi, All rights reserved
Illustration ~ St. Anne by an anonymous painter in Faras, which was a major city in Lower Nugia between what is now Egypt and the Sudan. It is housed in the National Museum in Warsaw and the photograph of it is released into the U.S. Public Domain.

IMG_7667the hidden well front coverLILIANA NEGOI (Endless Journey and in Romanian curcubee în alb şi negru) began to write poetry at eighteen – by accident – as she herself likes to remember, and has been exploring the depths of language ever since. Currently she is the author of three published volumes of poetry in English – which is not her mother tongue but one that she came to love especially because of writing: Sands and Shadows, Footstep on the San – tanka collection and The Hidden Well.  The last one can also be heard in audio version, read by the author herself on her SoundCloud site HERE.  Many of her creations, both poetry and prose, have been published in various literary magazines.

Posted in General Interest, Music, Photo Essay

When Words Fail

“When words fail, music speaks.” This photo essay from Steve McCurry is simply fabulous, as all his work is. J.D.

Posted in Essay, Music, Spiritual Practice, Terri Stewart, Uncategorized


I began thinking of Ubuntu today because I love the music of Eric Whitacre! Eric Whitacre is a contemporary choral composer who excels at using social media to bring people together. I first encountered his music with my children’s choir – Seattle Children’s Choir. The mature choir – Camerata – performed his piece Lux Arumque and I just cried. (I often cry during choir music-especially when my children are/were performing!)

As I mentioned, Eric Whitacre excels at using social media. He has used social media and the internet to create four virtual choirs. His first virtual choir was in 2010. It was his piece, Lux Arumque. He had 243 videos from 12 countries.

His second piece was Sleep. It had over 2,000 videos from 58 countries and was published in 2011. 2012 brought Water Night with 3,746 videos from 73 countries. He is currently assembling Virtual Choir IV – Fly to Paradise – with 8,400 submitted videos from 101 countries.

What does this have to do with Ubuntu?

I first heard of Ubuntu at seminary. I learned it from my friend, Sr. Jane Frances of Uganda. It is encapsulated in the phrase, “I am because we are.”

Bishop Desmond Tutu speaks of Ubuntu in his 1999 book, No Future Without Forgiveness-

A person with Ubuntu is open and available to others, affirming of others, does not feel threatened that others are able and good, based from a proper self-assurance that comes from knowing that he or she belongs in a greater whole and is diminished when others are humiliated or diminished, when others are tortured or oppressed.

He further expands on Ubuntu-

One of the sayings in our country is Ubuntu – the essence of being human. Ubuntu speaks particularly about the fact that you can’t exist as a human being in isolation. It speaks about our interconnectedness. You can’t be human all by yourself, and when you have this quality – Ubuntu – you are known for your generosity. We think of ourselves far too frequently as just individuals, separated from one another, whereas you are connected and what you do affects the whole World. When you do well, it spreads out; it is for the whole of humanity.

We are connected; Eric Whitacre does it well and it spreads out for the whole of humanity.

…night brings its wetness to beaches in your soul (from Water Night)

Let your soul’s beach be made wet again with this offering from Eric Whitacre and Virtual Choir III- Water Night. Connect to Mr. Whitacre, the music, the thousands of artists from around the world, and ultimately, to something that is bigger than we are. This one piece of music is because we are. Ubuntu.

P.S. Half of the recording length is not the music – it is the list of the names of all of the participants.

You can find Eric Whitacre on Facebook. He is wickedly funny!

© 2013, post and poetry, Terri Stewart, All rights reserved

terriTERRI STEWART is Into the Bardo’s  Sunday chaplain, senior content editor, and site co-administrator. She comes from an eclectic background and considers herself to be grounded in contemplation and justice. She is the Director and Founder of the Youth Chaplaincy Coalition that serves youth affected by the justice system. As a graduate of Seattle University’s School of Theology and Ministry, she earned her Master’s of Divinity and a Post-Master’s Certificate in Spiritual Direction. She is a contributing author to the Abingdon Worship Annual. (The 2014 issue just released!)

Her online presence is “Cloaked Monk.” This speaks to her grounding in contemplative arts and the need to live it out in the world. The cloak is the disguise of normalcy as she advocates for justice and peace. You can find her at,, and  To reach her for conversation, send a note to

Posted in Essay, Guest Writer, Music, Poems/Poetry, teacher


Trumpet_in_c_germanthe work of Kim Moore (Kim Moore, poetry), originally published in Artemis poetry and posted here with Ms. Moore’s permission and that of the publisher

When I was first asked to write an article exploring the links between being a poet and a trumpet teacher, my first reaction was panic. How could I possibly link my poetry life and my teaching/music life together? In my head they occupy two very separate spaces. Whilst pondering this, I grumpily thought of how often they seem to leech time and energy from each other, and it was this thought that made me realise they must be linked in some way and gave me the confidence to start writing.

I’ve only just started telling pupils that I write poetry – they often just look at me strangely. Then they ask what I write about – I usually change the subject and make them play a scale or something – because what poet likes to be asked what they write about? Especially when you are asked by a ten year old who is not going to be impressed by an airy flourish of my hand and a vague reference to gender politics.
At the beginning of 2012 I told one of my teenage pupils I’d got a job working as a poet in a men’s prison for ten weeks. He looked at me in disbelief, then did that clicking knuckles thing that’s all the rage with young people, before exclaiming with delight ‘You’re gonna get stabbed!’ followed by another click of his knuckles. When I appeared the next week with no puncture wounds, triumphant, he’d forgotten about the conversation already.
I’ve been working as a full time brass teacher for seven years – but in September 2012 I decided to reduce my contract down to four days a week to give myself more time to write. I teach in about 16 primary schools a week delivering a programme called ‘Wider Opportunities’ where every child in the class gets a brass instrument as well as the teacher and teaching assistants. I also run two brass bands and teach small groups of children as well.
I think the most important part of my job is to show both adults and children that music is for them. I can relate to thinking that it is not you see – being the only child in the school not allowed in the choir age eleven. The same thing happens in poetry – people think it is not for them – but it is surprising how many people in conversation will admit they have written a poem or ‘always wanted to learn to play a musical instrument’.
As I’m writing this article, I can see more and more connections. The role of peripatetic teacher is always that of an outsider – I’m not attached to any school and this loneliness is reminiscent of the work of being a poet, or a writer. My two worlds creep closer when I think of the way I had to learn as a new teacher, that my hope of guiding young players who spent every spare minute practising (as I did) off to music college was unlikely. I had to learn to let go of what I wanted, to understand that if my enjoyment of my job, my success, was measured by how much my pupils practised and whether they went off to music college, I would be a Very Miserable Teacher. I had to learn to listen to what my pupils wanted – and this transaction is often non-verbal because sometimes they don’t know either. Doesn’t this sound like poetry? The act of letting go, of relinquishing control is precisely what writing is to me. I learnt as a poet as well, that if I measured success by publication or prizes I would be a Very Miserable Poet.
Another part of my job is conducting a junior band. This is going to sound harsh, but conducting is all about imposing your will on the group. There is no room for anyone else to be creative. In fact, rehearsing is more like editing a poem – practising the same section over and over again, breaking the band down into parts so you can hear the weakest links – is exactly like reading your own poem over and over again, to find a line that will give way under scrutiny.
Teaching music and writing poetry are ultimately an act of balance – they both have that feeling of walking a tightrope, of words being vastly important. I often find myself using the same catchphrases when I’m teaching – they almost become your own personal clichés. I made a list of mine and turned it into a poem – it made it into my first pamphlet at the last minute and on the advice of my editor, Ann Sansom rather than any passion for it on my part – maybe it reminded me too much of work – but it is often the poem that people comment on – the most surprising people will confess they used to play a brass instrument or will say ‘I remember my trumpet teacher saying that to me when I was small’. And of course, the lines in my poem are not mine at all, really. They were given to me by my trumpet teacher and I remembered them, and repeated them to my pupils, like a poem, learnt by heart.
Teaching the Trumpet

I say: imagine you are drinking a glass of air.
Let the coldness hit the back of your throat.

Raise your shoulders to your ears, now let
them be. Get your cheeks to grip your teeth.

Imagine you are spitting tea leaves
from your tongue to start each note

so each one becomes the beginning of a word.
Sing the note inside your head then match it.

At home lie on the floor and pile books
on your stomach to check your breathing.

Or try and pin paper to the wall just by blowing.
I say: remember the man who played so loud

he burst a blood vessel in his eye? This was
because he was drunk, although I don’t tell

them that, I say it was because he was young,
and full of himself, and far away from home.

– Kim Moore

© 2013, essay and poem and portrait (below), Kim Moore, All rights reserved
Photo credit ~ trumpet by Benutzer:Achias under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported license

Society of Authors Awards June 2011 Kim Moore  Eric Gregory AwardsKIM MOORE (Kim Moore, poetry) ~ works as a peripatetic brass teacher in Cumbria. In 2011kim-moore-if-we-could-speak-like-wolves_1 she won an Eric Gregory Award and the Geoffrey Dearmer Prize, and in 2012 her first pamphlet  If We Could Speak Like Wolves was a winner in the Poetry Business Pamphlet competition, judged by Carol Ann Duffy. It was selected as one of the Independent’s ‘Books of the Year’. Kim has been published in various magazines including The Rialto, Poetry Review, The TLS, Magma, and ARTEMISpoetry. She is currently working on her first collection. You can sample more of her poetry on her blog HERE.


artemis-1ARTEMIS poetry ~  the bi-annual journal (November and May) of the Second Light Network , a professional association of women poets. The journal is published under their Second Light Publications imprint. Members receive a copy as part of their membership benefits. Issues are available to non-members by subscription at £9 p.a. or as a one-off purchase at £5 a copy (plusp&p).