Weekly Photo Challenge: Experimental

November 17, 2017 — This week’s photo challenge is experimental.

While on a business trip, I tried to capture the view outside of my window. I didn’t have my camera, so I placed my iphone against the glass and caught an interesting cross between the outside view and the inside of my hotel room. Quite experimental and accidental.

 

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The Art of Storytelling

November 13, 2017 — Anyone who can stand in front of an audience and tell a personal story for five minutes is bold, daring and heroic. It’s almost as if you have no fear of standing naked in public, bearing your inner most secrets for all to hear. It’s not for everyone.

As a writer, I can relate. You want people to read what you’ve written, or what’s the point; but you never want to be in the same room when someone’s reading your work. At least I don’t. It’s too revealing. That’s my fear of standing naked in public.

I had the opportunity to attend a storytelling Grand Slam Saturday night, an event that brought together the season’s best StorySlam winners to go head-to-head for the title of “Best Storyteller in Philadelphia”. StorySlam is a live storytelling competition that allows storytellers (slammers) to tell a story in five minutes or less based on the a chosen theme. On a typical night, brave audience members sign up at the door to tell a true story based on a theme, and ten storytellers are randomly selected to share their most outrageous, heartfelt, and often hilarious tales. Judges, also selected from the audience, determine the StorySlam winner, and a chance to compete in the season finale Grand Slam.

Ten of the season’s best storytellers competed for the title Saturday night, and being the best of the best, they told compelling tales on a variety of subjects based on the theme “willing”. At times, I felt like I was attending a therapy session crossed with open mic night at a comedy club since the stories made me shed a few tears and belly laughs. The tales included living with depression and anxiety, family traditions and the Philadelphia Eagles, childhood memories of birthday cakes and dance classes, and the story of a 13-year-old genius who wrote a book, his teacher who secured a publishing contract for him, and the 33-year-old storyteller who admitted publicly for the first time that both the boy and teacher lived only in his imagination, a fact that didn’t go over well with the publishing house once he admitted the truth. The only flaw I noticed was that only one person could win. Life is like that sometimes.

I thoroughly enjoyed sharing the experience with other audience members,  so it won’t be my last visit to a StorySlam. Being a part of the storyteller’s world, even for five minutes, fed my creativity and my spirit. I look forward to the next season, which begins in January.

Seven Years and Counting

November 6, 2017 — Seven years ago this Friday (November 10, 2010) I started this blog.

Back then, I was a member of the 10 percent unemployed, and thought that starting a blog would keep my writing skills fresh and give me something to do between interviews. The next marketing/communications job was out there, and I’d blog until I found it.

After I started a new communications manager position in 2011, I kept on blogging. Now, 1,218 posts later and seven years in, I still dabble, though not nearly as often as when I posted daily.  I also mix in my photography with written posts, and my pattern has become one photo (for the WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge) on Fridays and one written post each week on Mondays. It’s a schedule I can live with, still maintain a career and enjoy a bit of free time with family and friends now and then.

My blog didn’t change the world, or gather as many readers as a New York Times article, but I have my faithful followers and it’s been a great ride. A lot of interesting people found me and reached out to me with compelling comments and for that I am truly thankful.

 

 

Ghosts

October 31, 2017 – A recent CBS poll states that 48 percent of Americans say they believe in ghosts. So, if there are such things as ghosts, there must be haunted houses. After all, ghosts have to live/haunt somewhere.

If you’re among the 52 percent who believe ghosts are a bunch of hogwash, you may be interested to know that the United States government at one time kept track of haunted houses. There are more than 25 legendary haunted houses in the country, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce.

In the spirit of Halloween, let’s visit a few:

Close to my home, in New Hope, Pa., there is a striking list of haunts. New Hope claims to be one of the most haunted towns in the country, and with a history dating back about 500 years, that’s not surprising.

The Logan Inn located on the main road through New Hope is said to have four ghosts. Room #6 is the most requested by ghost hunters who spend a night hoping to experience the super natural. Many guests claimed to have seen a man’s reflection in the bathroom mirror, only to have it disappear when they turn around, and others say two ghostly children have greeted them. A Revolutionary War soldier has been spotted walking the halls and in the bar, and in the hall a portrait of a Colonial woman, who was famous for wearing lavender perfume, hangs for all to see. Many have claimed to smell the scent when they pass her by.

A little further south, in Washington DC, the most famous house in America, the White House, has a reputation for being one of the most haunted houses in the country. Among those who believe are former President Harry Truman, Kennedy’s Press Secretary James Haggerty, former First Lady Hillary Clinton, and the late Maureen Reagan, daughter of President Ronald Reagan. All have claimed to come in contact with a past resident of the home from Abraham Lincoln to Dolly Madison, and William Henry Harrison to Abigail Adams.

Winston Churchill also claimed Abraham Lincoln visited him when he spent the night in the Lincoln Bedroom. Upon Churchill’s next visit, the English leader refused to spend the night in the White House altogether.

Across the Potomac River from Washington, Virginia’s list of haunted houses is just as impressive. The small town of Fredericksburg alone has eight famous haunts. One is Kenmore, where Col. Fielding Lewis, who organized Virginia’s Militia, is spotted reading a newspaper. Another Belle Grove, once a wealthy plantation where a young woman who was murdered still roams. In Colonial Williamsburg, a woman named Lady Skipwith haunts Wyth House, and in Alexandria, the ghost of William Ramsay, the city’s first mayor, has been spotted in the upper windows of his old home. Also in Alexandria, the home of Harry Lee, a Revolutionary War hero and the father of Robert E. Lee, the commander of the Confederate forces during the Civil War, is haunted by a little boy. Locals believe the boyhood spirit is Robert.

Happy Halloween!