Section 2, part 2
(2) Ivan W. in PA: The Complaint Fast is also featured in the book The Power of Receiving by Amanda Owen. This is a book full of exercises to get the reader to be better about “receiving.”
(3) Annmarie B. in NC: Thanks…great as usual!
(4) Bonnie R. in PA: How are you? I hope you remember me, I was your student in Creativity in INTG 285 Spring semester 2015. I have to say, I look forward to receiving your blog’s every week. They always put a smile on my face, and I love learning about all the tips you have to offer. The jokes and thought of the day are my favorites! I just wanted you to know how much it means to me receiving them each week; my boyfriend and I both sit down together each Sunday evening just to read Blainsworld. It’s a little tradition we started! I hope you and your wife are doing well.
Hopefully we can join you in Newton at the end of August.
(5) Amy S. in NC: 50 ways to meet new people
(6) William R. in PA: Saw the “new” Ghost-busters movie today. Don’t waste your time and money.
(7) Feeling guilty about not flossing? Maybe there’s no need
(8) Emily S. in NC: Two great films – what do they have in common?
If you know me at all, you know I love movies. A lot. As in, I became a professional actor so I can be in them. And a big dream of mine is to one day produce my own films so I can put high-quality, high-vibe entertainment out into the world.
So when I see a really well-made film – one that is real and beautiful and uplifting – I shout about it from the rooftops. Because in my opinion, it doesn’t happen nearly often enough.
This weekend, I saw not one, but two, such films. Yes, my Awesome Movie cup absolutely overfloweth, so I had to tell you about them…
The first is called “Hunt for the Wilderpeople” – a film from New Zealand that is now a member of my all-time Top 10 list. It’s that good.
The movie is about a boy (played by breakout star Julian Dennison) and his foster father (Sam Neill, excellent as always). The two become the subjects of a manhunt after they get stranded in the New Zealand wilderness.
Please take the time to click on the link and watch the trailer, it’s really worth your time. It’s super funny, gorgeous to look at, and acted flawlessly. Since it’s a foreign indie film, it won’t be showing everywhere. But trust me, this one’s worth a drive to see!
The second film is called “Captain Fantastic”, which, thankfully, should be in more theaters.
The film centers around Ben Cash (played by the incredible Viggo Mortensen), and his six children, who live deep in the wilderness of Washington state. Isolated from society, Ben and his wife Leslie train their kids to think critically, have tremendous physical strength and endurance, live in the wild without technology, and co-exist with nature. But when Leslie dies suddenly, Ben must take his children into the outside world.
This one’s definitely more on the dramatic side than “Wilderpeople”, but you’ll definitely laugh at times. And like “Wilderpeople”, the scenery alone is worth the price of admission.
What I realized after watching both films was how they both looked at people who purposely choose to live in nature. No houses, no running water, no cell phones. Man and the wild.
Now I love getting back to nature as much as the next gal, but could I actually live in the wilderness? I’d like to think I could with some guidance, but I also know that I wouldn’t want to. I like my AC and Wi-Fi too much!
But these movies did inspire me to look at my life and see how I can live more in harmony with my Mother with a Capital “M”. How I can read more and surf less, how I can go barefoot more and really connect with the Earth, how I can watch less TV and more stars? Click to Tweet:
If the measure of great art is the ability to inspire us for the better, these two films knocked it out of the park. National park, that is 🙂
What was the last great movie you watched? Please, oh please, let me know on our Facebook page. I’m always on the lookout for inspiration…
(10) Putting Your Baby to Sleep: Some Advice and Good News
(11) Meta C. in NC: Healing group seeks able, conscious assistant, working approx. 5 hours per week, in exchange for participation in events. Perfect, rewarding opty for retired, gifted individual. Call 828-407-3367.
(12) Read books, live longer?’
(14) Edie W. in PA: Please go to our newly launched website and sign up to be involved in this positively life changing epic event: Hugs Across America. IT’S ALIVE!
(15) Chuck F. in NC: Beautiful N. Asheville home for sale by owner
Section 11, Thought for the day
The Wheel and the Music: Reflecting on My Brother Tom’s Last Show
It’s been a tough summer. My big brother Tommy died on June 20th around 11 p.m. Due to his Multiple Sclerosis, this was long anticipated, but the end came so suddenly it felt like a heavy weight punch to the stomach. Many of you know the back story, but for those who don’t, and because writing this out helps me embrace the grief, here is part of our story.
Tom was the first born in our family, March 6, 1959, my older brother by 13 months. Naturally, I looked up to him and tried to emulate his fine examples, first as an avid reader, then as a dedicated student, and later as a baseball and football player. I have no doubt my successes in those areas resulted from my desire to be as good as Tommy. With another brother followed by 2 sisters, we were 5 growing up in an often stressful household.
Tom was diagnosed with MS in his early 30’s after a series of seizures that started out of nowhere in his late 20’s. Not long after the diagnosis, he was unable to work due to the unpredictability of the seizures. He lived with me and my siblings back and forth for a few years until it became clear he needed 24-hour care that we could not provide in our homes. He moved to Fair Acres Nursing Home in Lima, and eventually to Inglis House in Wynnefield when he could no longer walk on his own. He was a volunteer at Inglis before he became a resident, and many of the residents and staff recognized him when he was admitted.
Despite living in nursing homes for close to 25 years and losing his ability to walk and eventually losing the ability to communicate for the most part, he never complained. I admired that a great deal and was happy to visit him nearly every week, watching sports on tv or sitting out in the beautiful quad out back when the weather was pleasant, making fun of the golfers chasing that little white ball next door, or just listening to music.
Tommy had a seizure Saturday June 18 after a number of years without one, and the usual medicines didn’t work to bring him out of it as in the past almost 30 years, so Inglis sent Tom to the hospital, worried that he might have aspirated. They called me right as Angela and I left a concert; That’s important to note because music is one of the bonds that tied Tom and I together. For example, he played for me the first full Bob Dylan album I ever heard, The Times They Are a-Changin’.
Turns out he did aspirate and that caused pneumonia, but worse is that he had a hemorrhagic stroke, which is never good. They were not sure if the seizure caused the stroke or the other way around. Still, he had been stable from Saturday night through Sunday but basically in a coma-like state. On Monday, he was out of ICU, and the family was talking to Lankenau’s palliative care team about his options. All 4 sibs were there, along with our children and some of Tommy’s grandnieces/nephews, so it was a good vibe despite the trauma.
We decided to initiate hospice care at Lankenau so as not to create any additional stress by transferring him back to Inglis the same day after moving off ICU, but we kept open the option to do so after a couple or 3 days of stability because that was his home, the staff and other residents knew him well, and he could be most comfortable in that familiar environment. We understood the window was anywhere from a couple of days or weeks, maybe a month, but we were comfortable that we made the best choices for him then.
So, as planned months before, and this was the reason my younger brother David was in town that weekend, my son and I and my brother, Carley and Russell, and Erin and Paul went to –wait for it –the Dead & Company concert in Camden.
That’s right. We felt it was the right thing to do because Tom would have been there with us if he was able, and he was stable with excellent care at the hospital, and we thought he would want us to go.
So we did. And were having a good time even with the heaviness on our shoulders.
And then an amazing turn of the wheel came with the last 4 songs of the show: All Along the Watchtower, Morning Dew, Not Fade Away, and Ripple.
As the first of these songs rolled out, I thought – damn this is appropriate. And I’m thinking of Tom: “There must be some kind of way out of here, Said the joker to the thief, There’s too much confusion, I can’t get no relief.”
Right? Someone is looking for relief.
Then, Morning Dew: “I thought I heard a young man mourn this morning, I thought I heard a young man mourn today. I thought I heard a young man mourn this morning, I can’t walk you out in the morning dew today.”
And I’m tuning in to this theme of relief and mourning and thinking this is exactly what’s going on, but I don’t know if the music is speaking from Tom’s perspective or from mine. All I know is that Tom is all in my head in this moment.
And then the band goes into Not Fade Away. Seriously.
“Your love for me has gotta be real You’re gonna know just how I feel A love that’s real, not fade away Not fade away . . .”
Now I’m looking up to the ceiling and feeling Tom in my heart and grateful for all of it. Can’t get any better, right?
The band goes off stage for the obligatory pre-encore break, and I’m fairly well convinced at this point that the universe is turning, in tune, and speaking through the music to Tom and I about the situation.
And then Ripple, the last song of the night, a quiet acoustic number: “There is a road, no simple highway, Between the dawn and the dark of night, And if you go, no one may follow, That path is for your steps alone.
Ripple in still water, When there is no pebble tossed, Nor wind to blow.”
And Tommy is not just turning in my head and in my heart, but all around me, his presence rippling across the river, dancing and shimmering with my younger brother, myself, our kids, and the other 15201 deadheads. This feeling was SO strong I cannot accurately describe its power.
Then the concert ends. We wheel our separate ways: My son and I to my car; my brother and his kids another way.
And I get the phone call before we reach the car; Angela says the hospital just called; Tom finished this round of his journey at about 11:05 – and I suddenly realize this was just minutes ago during the last song of the concert – Ripple. “There is a road, no simple highway, Between the dawn and the dark of night, And if you go, no one may follow, That path is for your steps alone.”
So, this all struck me as a singularly appropriate turn of events, even if some may dismiss it as mere coincidence.
If we had known, of course we would have stayed at Tom’s bedside. But you never know. Someone can spend weeks/months/years by his brother’s side, then take a short break to go the cafeteria, to the bathroom, to walk out in the sunshine, or to go listen to the music. And it happens. The wheel turns. If we could plan our lives perfectly, we probably wouldn’t be here today.
So, we make all the phone calls and plan the funeral, and I realize that that Dead & Company show was my last concert with my brother Tommy, and I download the show (https://archive.org/details/dead2016-06-20.flac16
) and listen to it a few times before the funeral and am moved each time by the synchronicity of those last songs and my brother’s death. And this show will always be my last concert with Tom – Tommy’s last show. And I’m comforted that I was, in a way, with him when the wheel turned, though not at the hospital. The connection between my brother and me and the music aides my grief, and I think I wouldn’t mind seeing one of my favorite bands on the day I die.
So before the funeral rolls around, my son, who is a DJ, helps me put together a playlist for background music during the visitation period before the funeral. Of course, we included Ripple, Wish You Were Here, Dylan’s Forever Young, and the Neville Brothers’ version of Will The Circle Be Unbroken, a poignant song that I wouldn’t mind at my own funeral. The playlist helped make the ordeal easier than anticipated.
Tom was buried next to our Mom, who died too young at age 41, and next to my niece Jessica, who died far too young at 25. He is in good company. I was one of the last to leave the cemetery, and when I turned the car ignition on, the wheel turned again with another reminder of the connection between Tommy and I – Dylan is on the radio singing Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door. I smile to myself thinking, “I couldn’t make this up: Tom is still sharing Dylan with me, and he must have taken the express train up.” And then after the lunch reception, as if to make perfectly clear that my brother is all right and that I’m going to be forever grateful for him and our shared love of music, I start the car to go home, and Stairway To Heaven is the first song. No bull.
And though there’s many more turns for this wheel, I‘ve said enough for now. A bit tired, tried, and true. But I will keep listening to the music with my brother and understanding what the music is saying to us. The music we shared, the music that speaks to us and binds us on a plane beyond time and space – this is how I will remember and honor Tom in my life until perhaps we should be so lucky to meet again. Thank you, brother. Thank you for the examples and the memories. May the sun greet you every morning and the moon light your nights, and may we share the stars turning around us for all time, Tom.
“The wheel is turning and you can’t slow down You can’t let go and you can’t hold on You can’t go back and you can’t stand still If the thunder don’t get you then the lightning will Small wheel turn by the fire and rod Big wheel turn by the grace of God Every time that wheel turn round bound to cover just a little more ground.”
Section 12A, NC events
(1) Sunny R. in NC: I went to see Dolly Parton’s “9 to 5” today at Flat Rock Playhouse, with my “little sister” Becca… it was one of the best, funniest plays/musicals I have ever seen…. I thought about you guys, as you love theater so much…. any plans to see it? I never laughed so hard, I know you would love it too!
(3) Helping Others, In Honor of Uncle Steve Nyou
Thursday, Aug. 11, from 7-8 p.m.
The Hop Ice Cream Cafe, 640 Mermimon Ave., Asheville, NC
To continue the benefit venture by late local community brainstormer and supporter, Steve Liebenhaut AKA Benefit Steve AKA Uncle SteveNyou, we will invite the folks from Asheville Music School to join us at The Hop for an awareness-raising conversation and musical performance for and by this great organization. Plus 50% of sales during will be donated to AMS.
(4) West Virginia Storyteller, Adam Booth, will be featured at Buffalo Nickel on Wednesday July 17th for Mountain Stories. Adam will be joined by Asheville’s very own Vixi Jil Glenn. An evning of Mountain, Appalachian and Jack Tales! Show is at 7pm but please come early to order drinks and dinner. Call 828-575-2844 for reservations after you puchase your tickets.
- Wednesday, August 17, 2016 from 7:00 PM to 9:00 PM (EDT)
- 747 Haywood Rd – 747 Haywood Road, Asheville, NC 28806
- For tickets, please click:
(7) “Music Around the World” – Free program at Pine Run, 777 Ferry Road, Doylestown
with Claudia Pellegrini
Tuesday, August 9, 2016, 1:30 p.m.
Join On Demand Programs and Events virtuoso violinist Claudia Pellegrini on a musical trip around the world, through time and history. Visit Italy and Germany during the Baroque Period, travel to Spain for a taste of popular folk music, and come back to America to remember beloved jazz standards and your favorite show tunes. Be prepared to sing along! Claudia performs regularly at the Bristol Riverside Theatre and always delights her audiences. Looking forward to seeing you there.
Section 12B, PA/NJ event
‘2016 Kelsey Theatre Awards’ Features Ceremony and Performances Aug. 20
West Windsor, N.J. – It’s awards time once again at Mercer County Community College’s (MCCC’s) Kelsey Theatre. The “2016 Kelsey Awards,” a Tony Awards-inspired evening that celebrates the best theatrical productions and performers from the 2015-16 season, takes place Saturday, Aug. 20, starting at 7 p.m. Kelsey Theatre is located on MCCC’s West Windsor campus, 1200 Old Trenton Road.
Based on voting by Kelsey Theatre fans, the Kelsey Awards will highlight the best performances, best technical achievements, best direction and best choreography from the past year. The ceremony will also honor Pete Labriola with a Lifetime Achievement Award. Labriola has been an innovator in the theater community for decades and has served as artistic director for Pierrot Productions, one of the companies that performs at Kelsey Theatre, since 1989.
The event will reprise performances by the casts of “The Addams Family,” “Mary Poppins,” “Violet,” and “City of Angels.” New this year will be preview performances from two upcoming shows: “Miss Saigon” (Sept. 9 to 25) and “In The Heights” (Oct. 14 to 23), along with a reunion performance by the cast of “Avenue Q” from 2013. Hosts for this year’s show are comediennes Jaimie McMillin, Maria Aromando, and Kim Cupo.
“To gather some of the best talent in New Jersey and have them on one stage in one big show is a unique night of enjoyment for theater fans,” said Kyrus Westcott, the show’s producer, director and head writer. The Kelsey Awards have been presented by K2KEntertainment and the Kelsey Theatre Advisory Board as a live show since 2011. (The awards were first presented in 2009.)
The nomination round took place in early July. The second round of voting, which will decide the winners, will be held Aug. 13 to 18. For more information, visit www.KelseyAwards.com.
Tickets are $16 and are available online at www.kelseytheatre.net or by calling the Kelsey Theatre Box Office at 609-570-3333. Kelsey Theatre is wheelchair accessible, with free parking available next to the theater.