This is the fourth year I've attended the UniverSoul Circus as a guest of Reverend James Lyles and
Youth 10Xs Better from Harrisburg. The circus is in Baltimore and I meet the bus load of young people and chaperones outside the circus tent.
This year, I was especially delighted to run into two dear friends, Lillian Bates and Phyllis Sweeting. We volunteered on various projects in Harrisburg for over two decades. They are still very involved with numerous community initiatives to benefit young people, families and the community.
This very special circus always pulsates with color, energy, vibrancy and talent. And they always weave a bit of their open and inclusive philosophy into the show. Groups from all over the world are represented and for the grand finale, they brought every group together with each county's flag and reminded us of the importance of being inclusive.
Below are a few of the photos I've taken over the years. You really need to attend personally to hear the music, feel the explosive and exuberant excitement from the crowd, get a sense of the amazing variety of talent and skills, but this will give you a fractional idea.
,Years ago, a few months before I lost my home in a flood, my daughter gave me this business card holder. She knew my volunteering had spun out of control. In addition to my full time job, I had key positions with America's Promise, United Way of the Capital Region, Project Youth, the Gandhi King Peace Coalition, and more. Asset based, youth driven initiatives were my favorite and supporting Judge Jeannine Turgeon with Do the Write Thing was one I considered most worthwhile.
Losing my home and my move to Baltimore forced me to make changes, and much to Mycala's delight, most of the volunteering ended. I did some courses with the Renaissance Institute locally and have continued to support Youth 10xs Better in Harrisburg because their mission incorporates all of Colin Powell's Five Promises (American's Promise), but my direct interaction with youth programs ended.
Moving to Baltimore has been a blessing. I love this town for more reasons than I have time to write or you have time to read. But the youth violence is staggering. I've been quietly watching since I moved to Baltimore County in 2012. I purchased a home in the city in 2015 and have continued to consider the best way to help.
Almost over night it occurred to me that Do the Write Thing might be the answer. I have always believed that young people, not adults, know the answers. When I first started out in social services, I am embarrassed to admit that I was part of deficit based programs centered around "what's wrong with young people and how can we (adults) fix them."
Fortunately, I was introduced to healthy communities. I became our local director in Dauphin, Cumberland, Perry and norther York counties through SHIP (State Health Improvement Plan) under the PA Department of Health. The healthy community philosophy embraced Dr. Peter Benson's 40 Assets for Youth from the Search institute in Minneapolis, Minnesota. One of the most startling realizations was that only 20% of young people feel that adults value their opinions.
Do the Write Thing encourages young people from middle school to process questions and come up with answers. And adults listen. It reaches people who are young enough to be guided to make better decisions.. It gives them the opportunity to consider actions and their consequences, gives them a voice and makes them feel part of making positive changes.
A Postive Experience in the Courtroom
Judge Turgeon felt strongly that academic participation and achievement should be given the same value as those for athletic competitions, so she always provided trophies for the students.
How often do young people and their families have an opportunity to have a positive experience in the court room? This was one of the most gratifying aspects of the program.
So now I am exploring the options of bringing this program to Baltimore. I would be willing to organize the project, but it require approval from the national organization to add another community to those already participating and also to find someone with the credentials and status who would be enthusiastic and dedicated to support the initiative.
In Harrisburg I was well connected and familiar with the community. I had spent decades working with people from board rooms to prisons, and had worked in state agencies, school systems from K through university level, health care systems, police departments, social service organizations and people on both sides of the political spectrum. In Baltimore I'm not nearly so well connected but recently I have connected with some people who might be able to help me with coordinating the community efforts. There seem to be so many people interested in making a difference but not sure how to help.
I still have contacts with people participating in Do the Write Thing and i am exploring the options of adding a Baltimore.
Do the Write Thing combines so many things I value - youth opinion, writing, processing, asset based programming, and community collaboration
Years ago I heard a metaphor for chaos and clarity. A fraction of an inch under the surface of a mirror, it is absolute chaos. But a tiny move can bring everything into perfect focus. Hopefully, there will be a clear of vision of what this might look like in the near future.
We're under an emergency alert for flash flooding, and torrential rain, thunder and lightning have altered today's plans.
I'm happily settled inside, recovering all of my dining room chairs with a striped velvet that is much more complimentary to the furniture in the adjoining living room. I used the same fabric in the rose velvet pillow.. It's been a productive day in spite of a change of plans.
This came up on my Facebook memories today! What a fabulous event! The Pride of the Susquehanna is docked on the river in Harrisburg, PA and the atmosphere is delightful. We had a catered dinner as we cruised down the river and then had our training. I even had people come from out of state! So many wonderful memories.
One of these days I'd love to do the Hidden Treasures Styles on the pirate ship in the harbor in Baltimore!
The last few weeks have been overflowing with color and kitsch, both here in Baltimore and on recent travels. Seeing so many vibrant creations - kinetic and still sculptures, statues. screens, jewelry and even menus was a whimsical delight. From now on, in addition to museums, natural and historic sites, and more typical tourist attractions, I plan to seek out whimsy when I'm touring! I returned with my sketch book over flowing and numerous ideas for gifts, home and garden!
Kinetic Sculpture Race
On Saturday, May 5, we headed to the harbor early to see the start of the kinetic sculpture race, followed by lunch at Marie Louise Bistro and a stroll through historic Mt. Vernon for their annual Flower Mart.
Baltimore's Visionary Art Museum's annual kinetic sculpture race - "a race through Baltimore of wacky, imaginative, TOTALLY HUMAN-POWERED WORKS OF ART, DESIGNED TO TRAVEL ON LAND, THROUGH MUD, AND OVER DEEP BALTIMORE INNER HARBOR WATERS, constructed out of used bicycles, gears, and parts, created by a lunatic genius who tinkers around in the garage or backyard.
Jim Thorpe, PA
This is just a small sampling of the delights in Jim Thorpe. I've narrowed the number of photos down by focusing on all things Alice in Wonderful!
And back to Baltimore, MD
The Paper Moon Diner
Even the menus were fun!
Some of the interior decorations were a little bizarre, but it's all in fun!
Alphabet journal page from a trip to Ocean City, Maryland
Attention - really look at what is around you, pay attention to the beauty, the details.
Alphabet - reviewed Von Oech's library advertisement - What we can do with 26 little letters!
Believe - the difference between people who feel they are creative and those that think they aren't is simply a matter of belief. Believe in yourself! Use affirmations.
Brain - more to come in future sessions. What goes on in your head is the beginning of what you manifest in your life.
Collecting Firsts - collecting firsts takes the pressure off of doing something new for the first time. Just add it to your collection!
Color - legends from the rainbow, Chakras
Dharma - use your skills and talents in accordance with the universal laws and you will find your Dharma. We are all here to ask, "How can I help?"
Energy - What increases it? What drains it? Be aware. If possible, avoid anything or anyone who drains your energy.
Food - Always ask the value - 'What's In It For Me?". Food is fuel. What value is it adding? It can be a feast beyond tastes - also consider the joys of smell, texture, vision, sound.
Gratitude - is the basis for all contentment. Write your own list and continue to add blessings. Look for assets. Example - 40 Assets for Youth
History - Look for lessons from history as you research things you love! Example - I love violets and was surprised to find Napoleon's violet post card.
Heart to Hand - write your goals on paper. Research indicates you will be more likely to complete goals if they are handwritten instead of typed, and your emotions will be more directly linked if you write and journal by hand.
Intuition - is a sixth sense. Be aware of it. Practice. Trust it. Feel it in your solar plexus.
Insects - can teach us many lessons. Observe and consider the lessons they bring. Also included in Ted Andrews book on animal Totems.
Journals - written, illustrated, fictional journals
Karma - we reap what we sow. If we plant radishes we will get radishes. They may not be immediate but they will manifest in time. It is the same with patience, kindness and compassion. They will return ten fold.
Love - is the answer to everything, and it begins with valuing ourselves. If we can be compassionate and patient with ourselves, we can be kinder and more caring to others.
Magic - it is all around us. Manifesting - remember, what we focus our attention on grows. Always. Focus on what you want. Many focus on what they don't want and it increases.
Meditate - a simple meditation is to look at a painting or photo for 10 minutes and let your mind relax. Meditation is very similar to saying grace before a meal. Stop. Breathe. Be grateful. Quiet your mind and focus on the very breath that keeps you alive.
Nature - is abundant with lessons! It teaches us to live in the present moment, giving and receiving are the same, and there is value in everything - even those often unappreciated weeds.
O - own your own circle. We can't control others, but we can control our own space and how we treat others within our 10 foot circle.
Preparation - "a cowboy always carries his spurs!" - Bring a positive attitude, a notebook and pen, art supplies, an instrument - whatever works for you!
Quotes - words can give us inspiration, validation, incentive, power, insights. Collect quotes from people you admire! Create your own quotes and share them with others.
Quest - find a grand passion - it will give you energy, direction and purpose!
Questions - keep your questions broad. Don't include your own answers in your questions - that can be limiting. Have faith to ask without having specific expectations about what the answers will be. Example -" How can I find my perfect living space?" instead of "How can I build/rent in a particular area?" Shifting the question enabled me to move to Baltimore in a few weeks after being stuck by asking the wrong question for over a year.
Research - something you love!. A few examples I've researched include roses, violets, yarrow, zodiac herbs, herbs for haunting and romance, creativity, sea life, colors and rainbows. . .
Senses - Sight, hearing, taste, touch, smell - all of these can contribute to living a more sensuous, creative life!
SCAMMPERR - technique by Robert F. Eberle - Substitute - components, materials, people Combine - mix, combine with other services, integrate, Arrange - organize, order, Modify/Magnify - reduce or increase in scale, shape, color, Put to Other Uses, Eliminate or Minify - remove elements, simplify, reduce to core, Rearrange/Reverse - inside out, upside down
Symbolism - we are surrounded by symbols - in history, art, paintings, advertising, sports logos. What symbols frequently cross your path?
Synchronicity - be aware of the synchronicity and serendipity in your life. Once you begin to see it it will increase and everything will change.
Themes - can make anything more fun! Whether it's a party, vacation, book or goal, themes provide a framework.
Totems - Native American Indian belief that each animal that crosses our path brings a message. Some are close by all our lives, others only appear occasionally and under unusual circumstances.
Unexpected - look at things from a different perspective - a different point of view. Example - take photographs of people's shoes instead of faces at a party.
Values - know your values and live accordingly. Saves energy and eliminates drama.
Vision board - the mind sees in pictures. Create a vision board to manifest the life you want.
Wizards - they exist. In Deepak Choprah's The Way of the Wizard he describes growing up in Delhi, India around wizards. When I visited Delhi, I met one! Swamiji Sarvanand.
WWWWW - Who? Who can help? What? What material can we use? Where? Where can we get other materials? When? When should we make it? Why? Why will it be an improvement?
X marks the spot. Make every day a treasure hunt.
Z - Zen - "When the eye wakes up to see again, it suddenly stops taking anything for granted." Frederick Frank, a quote from The Zen of Seeing.
You! - We ended with Y instead of Z since it all begins and ends with you. YOU are the treasure!
Every day Nasrudin went to beg for alms in the market, and people used to make fun of him by playing the following trick: they would show him two coins, one worth ten times more than the other, and Nasrudin would always choose the smaller coin.
The story went round the whole province.
Day after day, groups of men and women would show him the two coins, and Nasrudin would always choose the smaller one.
Then one day, a generous man, tired of seeing Nasrudin ridiculed in this fashion, beckoned him over to a corner of the square and said:
‘When they offer you two coins, you should choose the larger one. That way you would earn more money and people wouldn’t consider you an idiot.’
‘That sounds like good advice,’ replied Nasrudin, ‘but if I chose the larger coin, people would stop offering me money, because they like to believe that I am even more stupid than they are. You’ve no idea how much money I’ve earned using this trick.
“There’s nothing wrong with looking like a fool if, in fact, you’re being really clever.’
Yesterday was our final session for the Exploring Rainbows course. As with many of my courses, the workshop was set up alphabetically to prompt me to think more creatively. We went through the alphabet for each color, as well as the rainbow. The letter U for each color represented something "unexpected". This was the Unexpected reference in the blue section.
And yes, it's ok to be smart!
Prosperity is not in what you have attained,
but rather in what you give away...
for it is only when you become empty
that you can be filled with something greater.
"My mission is
to help others see and cherish the beauty,
romance and treasures within and around them
that are often dismissed or completely overlooked."
Mikell is a writer, artist and professional treasure hunter, finding the greatest treasures in the wonderful people who enter her life!