To Taste Life Twice: Processing the ‘Power of Words’ Conference

“Earth Birth” by Deborah Milton from

Sitting across from me is a pixie of a woman. Silver hair, warmly tanned skin, and sparkling, smiling eyes. She enchants me with her beauty. And her words.

As she speaks, she spins a metaphor that stuns me with its articulation, its clarity, its truth. Putting pen to paper about an experience is like giving yourself a beautifully wrapped package, she says. Giving it words so that you can experience it all over again is like pulling the ribbon, peeling back the paper, and peeking inside to find the treasure inside. It is, she said, quoting Anais Nin, exactly like tasting life twice.

The label on this particular wrapped box says “Transformative Language Arts Network’s ‘Power of Words’ Conference, October 11-13, 2013.” I will unravel and reveal its true gift as I write.

Re-meeting people I love from Goddard College and meeting face-to-face those with whom I have been in cyber contact, precluded any whispers of shyness from becoming shouts. Over the years I have become much better at interacting with people, as long as no small talk is required. In a place where we are all lovers of words and writing, I am guaranteed a meaningful conversation which doesn’t include one mention of the weather (unless it is to describe the way the raindrops hung like tiny jewels from the red berries or the mist draped the mountain like a shawl over the hunched shoulders of an old, wise woman).

“I found my people!” was exclaimed in relief more than once. When a voice catches in resonance of their own and others’ words, I, too know, these are my people.

These are people who express their anger and grief through music and poetry that makes you want to dance in agreement.

These are people who reach into their souls to find the word or melody that makes their body react in a exhalation of breath.

These are people who realize that Story is the basic building block of all we know to be “true” and True.

These are people who can make you laugh in recognition at the absurdity of life when seen through the eyes of a cat named Zen.

These are people who gather in a circle to sing, to express their learning, to acknowledge their calling.

These are people who know that to categorize “Other” is to break the sacred circle that is the womb, the swirling universe, the spiraling molecules, the revolving seasons, the unity of All. (“More Mothering, less Othering,” C says.)

These are people who use words, who guide others to use words, to find the wisdom that connects and overcomes and moves forward.

These are people who do not decide their life on fear of lack but on visions of abundance.

Yes, these are my people. And for the first time in my life I felt neither superior (as my childhood church insisted I feel over those who hadn’t “The Truth”) nor inferior (as a incapable, unlearned woman in a “man’s world”), but equal. Self-judgement had no place here.

And I know, more than ever, that I must write. Not just my columns which help pay the bills, but words that come from a place of deeper knowledge and yearning. I must continue to research the importance of this work and I must help spread that word.

And I will continue to help others find their deep words.

D, The Storyteller says that Transformative Language Arts — using language for social and personal change — will one day soon be acknowledged and known and accepted. I can’t wait. I was called to do this work, it is my passion. I will continue it whether is it accepted or not. I know it works — I am a living testament to that — and I will share my Joy in it.

And there! There is the gift inside my wrapped package: I will live my Joy to an even greater extent. For it keeps the spiral of connection spinning. Sending out vibrations of Joy and Courage to others.

Prompt: What is my Joy? My Joy is…

The power of voice

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I have long known the power of song. Whether sitting in the audience or on the risers myself, it is a rare time that the tears don’t immediately spring to my eyes at the first note. I am usually blubbering by beat three, tissues whipped out and sniffling muffled. OK, I exaggerate (slightly). What I don’t exaggerate is the effect of the human voice; alone, harmonizing with other voices or unified with the resonance of the instruments.

This past Saturday I sang in a concert that spoke to the larger power of voice and song. It was the third Concert for Peace held at the Unitarian Univeralist Church in Burlington, VT. Six choirs from around the state filled (every last seat) of the balcony: An all-woman’s barbershop group whose voices blended like coffee and cream, a self-conducted choir who sang a funky but fantastic work song from the country of Georgia, a chorus whose director asks for no audition just a love of singing (and you could tell they did), a heavenly-voiced children’s choir, a six-person group (members of Counterpoint, Vermont only professional choir conducted by the incomparable Robert DeCormier) who did not sing as much as ring. Each choir sang their individual pieces (and can I just say that my choir ROCKED THE HOUSE!?) but the time I felt the true power was when every singer and audience member stood and in perfect unison sang John Lennon’s Imagine.

Imagine there’s no countries
It isn’t hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace…

You may say I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will be as one

Earlier we had been introduced to the founder of The Good Earth Singers, who is “healing the planet, one voice at a time” and we also heard the story of how the troops of World War I stopped fighting one Christmas Day and sang together a top their foxholes.

The power of voice, the power of song, the power of people coming together. If all the world could sing together there could be no war. When we sing together we hear how every voice is as important and special as the next. And together each of us have the power to affect another person’s heart. I know because I cried. The audience cried. The conductor cried. God(dess) is crying too because when we sing it all seems so clear and easy. Singing together gives a glimpse of the way the world should and could be.

Yes, I can imagine – and it looks and sounds like a choir forming their individual voices into one enveloping blanket of beautiful sound.

P.S. I just heard that the Public Radio International show “To the Best of Our Knowledge” is broadcasting a show on this exact topic… I love synchronicity! Here’s the link:

Prompt: You may say I’m a dreamer but….


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