Maria Culbertson, my guest this week on Wise Woman Storytime is a woman who has worn many hats throughout her life with singing and performing taking center stage. However, while performing in every possible theatrical venue and receiving accolades for her work, Maria began to experience a lack of satisfaction from her work and as she says, “felt like the soul had gone out of my singing experience.”
Around this time, Maria joined The Threshold Choir -a group of a cappella singers whose mission is to sing for and with those at the thresholds of life. Her experience with the choir not only changed Maria’s relationship to music, it changed her life.
The magic and sacredness of her singing was restored. Her passion for music was revitalized and 15 years later, her vision and purpose for her voice and song continues to deepen and flourish.
Listen to Maria’sdeeply personal story of being immersed in the music and sisterhood of this choir. Learn how being a loving presence with those on the threshold of life and death transformed, healed and opened her heart, forever connecting her to herself and others.
Attaining happiness and the search for joy in our lives has become something of a cultural obsession or at least a dominant attitude requirement in certain circles.Retreats, religious and spiritual practices, choosing country vs. city living, yoga and the quest for a guru are some avenues for seekers.
Step into any bookstore and you will be bombarded with every conceivable kind of book about bringing happiness and joy into your life. Amazon lists 22,368 titles on joyand 18,465 book options for happiness.
Today you can listen to or read personal stories, scientific studies, newspaper and magazine articles all espousing ways to find nirvana. There are books with daily affirmations, and TED Talks offering tools and avenues out of the misery into the light. Neuroscience teaches us how we can re-wire our brains to cultivate positive emotions, inner peace and lasting happiness,
Books have been written by scientists, researchers, journalists, Harvard professors, psychologists and spiritual teachers. Even the Dalai Lama has a book on the topic.
And while it seems quite apparent that many people are searching for this eternal bliss, how often do you actually meet someone who finds it? Are YOU that person? Are you a seeker?
You’ve probably figured out by now the focus of today’s show is about joy and happiness. My guest, as far as I know is not someone who has a book outthere on the subject nor has she written an article or done a TED talk…… yet she is an expert on this topic because she embodies joy in every aspect of her being………her words, attitudes and actions…….her generosity of spirit – her big heartedness, contentment, peace and love.
Want to really learn about joy?Skip the bookstores, magazine articles, TED Talks and instead hang out with Debby Meagher for 5 minutes and you can experience first hand what joy looks, sounds and feels like.When you look into her eyes, listen to her words and watch her, there can be no question that this woman’s inner light shines……andshowersthose around her with unconditional love………. and joy………
I invite you to listen to KOWS Wise Woman Storytime and meet Debby Meagher, probably the most authentically joyful person I have ever known……..
This week on KOWS Wise Woman Storytime, my guest was Lynn Kwitt.Let me tell you a little about the story she told.
Imagine yourself a young child and think what would it look like and feel like to grow up unable to participate in childhood games and activities because the right side of your body just didn’t move the same way your left side did.
What would it be like for you,bright and smart as you were, to not be able to clearly express yourself because it took you longer to articulate your thoughts and say your words?And what would it be like to be called a “Retard” and to be constantly bullied asyour differences became the target of abusive and cruel behaviors and taunts?
And what would it be like to have this physical deficit and have absolutely no idea why you were so different and what caused it?
When my guest today, Lynn Kwitt was born with the umbilical cord wrapped around her neck 3 times, no one at the time had any idea of what this young baby had already suffered in utero.It wasn’t until Lynn was 8 months old that arigidity set into her body ultimately limiting movement and sensation on her entire right side.No one had answers or solutions. Her mother overprotected her; Lynn self-isolated and stayed to herself and as you can imagine this young child became extremely self conscious.
For many people an early beginning like this could lead to a complete shutdown and withdrawal from the world.But not Lynn. Instead of giving up, Lynn eventually sought answersand ways to give new life to her body and spirit as she began a lifelong quest to understand her condition and to find healing and peace.Along the way, she became her own healer and now offers hope and healing to others through the many healing modalities that changed her life.
I invite you to listen to Lynn’s story.
And, if you would like to learn more about Lynn, make an appointmentor contact her, here is her information.
George Santayana said, “Those that don’t remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”Seventy plus years ago, World War II ended and the remaining Jews still imprisoned in concentration camps were liberated. Those lucky and resilient enough to survive had the chance to get their lives back or perhaps it would be more accurate to say, start building anew . For those who lived through those times, bore witness to the aftermath, or have watched or suffered through other genocides, we must never forget what happened. We must learn the lessons so that we can mitigate the attitudes, prejudices, fears and politics that allow these atrocities to fester, gain momentum and happen.
While the Holocaust is behind us, anti-semitism and xenophobia are on the rise. We live in a world where “others” are suspect and hatred is passed down from generation to generation while some politicians feed and fuel the fires of hatred, bigotry and fear. Millions of people in Burma, Iraq, The Democratic Republic of Congo, Sudan, Yemen, Iraq, Nigeria and Syria face ongoing peril and annihilation every single day of their lives. We live in a sometimes brutal world where misunderstanding at best and hatred at worst fuels international crises, aggression and heinous acts against innocent and unsuspecting people as evidenced last week in Paris and Nigeria.
My guest this week on KOWS 107.3 FM’s Wise Woman Storytime, is Frieda Ferrick, the child of Holocaust survivors. Frieda and her sister Chana became junior detectives early in their lives seeking answers to an often unspoken, and silent presence of something dark and sinister not to be shared. Over the years, the sisters pieced together what they did not learn directly from their parents. And so the story of Max and Sophie Lazar’s past was eventually unraveled.
Frieda has published two books, the first, Stories My Family Could Not Tell tells the stories that her family would not or could not speak. More stories are told in her latest book, Stories I Must Tell You. In this book, there is an emphasis on the resiliency of human beings and how healing is always possible even though scars may remain.
Stories I Must Tell You is a compilation of soft spoken, yet brave and powerful messages of courage, hope, love and resiliency. Through poetry, prayers, musings and even a short story, we learn about the power of the human spirit to overcome the worst of traumas, and how healing is always possible. Healthy and productive lives can be had.
Stories I Must Tell You is a gentle antidote to a world that sometimes feels unsafe, scary and out of control. It offers light into a sometimes dark world.
We all know that our life experiences shape the trajectory of how we live, work, play and perceive the world. My guest this week, on KOWS Wise Woman Storytime Nina Ayin tells a story from her early adult years that challenged the status quo of her thinking and forever changed her views of life, death and everything in between.
Today’s story begins benignly when Nina shows up at the prearranged time to tutor a young boy. Yet the encounter with the older woman who obviously made the appointment and invites Nina into the home to wait for the arrival of the student, results in some strange and unsettling moments ultimately leading Nina on a life changing path to a new inner and outer world view.
Nina Ayin has a 40+ year career as an illustrator, painter, sculptor, Reiki Master and author. Her first book, Artist as Healer, Stories of Transformation and Healing is a book of case histories of her healing work. Today we talk about her first novel Bleed Through – a fictionalized story of her beliefs about life and the interconnectedness of us all.
To listen to Nina’s story, click on the link below.
Nina shows her art and teaches painting at Artflare in Santa Rosa, CA located in Building 33, Studio/Gallery #106, 3840 Finley Avenue, Santa Rosa
If you were terminally ill, living with unbearable pain and suffering greatly, would you want the peace of mind of knowing that you could obtain a prescription to take your own life and die at the time and place of your own choosing?
It seems that most Californians would……A recent bipartisan poll showed that 69% of California voters, including 70% of Latinos and 60 % of Catholics support Death with Dignity, California’s End of Life Options Act/SB 128. Currently this bill is stalled in our state’s Assembly allowing the Health Committee members more time for consideration and review.
Currently Oregon, Washington, Montana, Vermont and one county in New Mexico allow terminally ill patients to request medication from their physician to end their lives humanely. The drugs are prescribed by a doctor and administered voluntarily by the patient when and IF they choose to. Interestingly, over half of the patients who request the drugs, never use them. The peace of mind inherent in just having the medical aid in dying, gives the patient the comfort to get through one more day and is actually a deterrent to ending one’s life.
Death with Dignity, is the topic of conversation on Wise Woman Storytime this week. David Ross tells his personal story of living with a stage 4 diagnosis of throat cancer. Should the disease return he has been told that there are no more curative options available to him. Also joining the conversation is Carole van Alestyn, a hospice nurse, the former California Director for End of Life Consultations and currently a Compassion and Choices volunteer and speaker, who advocates for the civil rights of patients to choose death with dignity.
This show helps to unravel what Death with Dignity is and is not; and gives important information about the requirements, guidelines and mandated regulations that are built into these laws.
Death and dying are a part of life not often talked about, but needs to be discussed, thought about and planned for. So whether you’re young or old, healthy or ill, listen to this important show. It may very well change the way you think, make decisions, and plan for your life and death.
The big question was; Other than simply cancel my radio show, Wise Woman Storytime, what should I do when my guest cancels and there is not enough time to find a replacement?
Well, fortunately for me, when this happened in June, I had been giving some thought to a different kind of show and now was my golden opportunity to bring this idea into reality.
But first, let me give you a little background……
In the very beginning – when I first started producing Wise Woman Storytime, I didn’t give much thought to the music that I played during the segways and breaks. But after a while, it dawned on me that each show would be much more interesting if the music reflected the story being told. So I started researching songs and all kinds of music that mirrored the story that my guest was telling. What I began to unearth was a treasure trove of history about music and I was introduced to new artists and genres that I had not experienced before.
And I really liked the continuity that this brought to Wise Woman Storytime.
I’d been thinking for awhile that I’d like to dedicate a show to the music I’ve played and when my guest became ill , I said, “OKAY……..now’s the time for Music from Wise Woman Storytime.”
So today, you’re going to hear some of the music I’ve played snippets of these past 10 months. It’s an eclectic sampling ranging from classical, to old standards, to contemporary and maybe even some rap. I hope you enjoy the variety and some of the background info I’ve discovered.
Chronic and repetitive dog barking unnerves me. It always has and it probably always will………It’s the kind of sound that no matter what, I can’t tune out, block out, or just plain ignore. Earplugs, double paned windows and noise reducing machines never work. It’s like the sound permeates my being and enters into my body, mind and spirit……..Bombarded by repetitive and chronic barking, I lose my ability to focus, become agitated, get angry and my guts feel tight and all knotted up. I’m sure that my blood pressure is affected along with a rapid heartbeat. And then there’s the accompanied sense of impotency, because I have no control over whether the neighbor will or will not take responsibility and control his or hers animal’s behavior. Leaving home doesn’t really help as I find that I carry the anguish with me and returning home I worry that the barking will start again if it isn’t already. It’s really a vicious cycle.
So, when I read that the World Health Organization has identified noise as a debilitating toxin with the potential to devastate health, I felt understood and my reaction to the noise intrusion was validated, acknowledged and legitimized.
The problem of nuisance barking dogs was the topic of this week’s KOWS 107.3FM’s Wise Woman Storytime. I actually became acquainted with my guest Alexia Lacey when a friend directed me to the survey she was conducting on a local internet bulletin board. Alex was gathering information and opinions from our west Sonoma County community on issues related to barking dogs.
Having just bought and moved into her first home – her sanctuary and lifelong dream come true -Alex had a rude awakening. Exhausted and exhilarated, her first night”s sleep was interrupted by her neighbor’s barking dog which was not an anomaly, but as she would soon find out, was a regular pattern -day and night. The dream of living peacefully and quietly in her new home was to become her worst nightmare. When the neighbor not only refused to work with Alex for an amicable solution to the problem and instead became hostile and belligerent, Alex turned to the Sonoma County Animal Control for help.
That is when Alex came face to face with a legal system that fails to protect innocent victims from irresponsible pet owners. She discovered a confusing definition of nuisance barking and a noise law that was vague and ineffectually phrased. She learned that the law favored the perpetrator and placed undue burden on the victim. Citations and legal consequences were highly unlikely because the complaints were difficult to prove and unenforceable by an understaffed Animal Control Agency.
Alex uncovered one of the dirty little secrets of Sonoma County – an epidemic of nuisance barking complaints and no laws to effectively manage and control the problem.
For the past 3 years, under the constant duress of the ever present noise intrusion, Alex Lacey has worked tirelessly to bring peace to her home and to the lives of others whose lives are impacted by thoughtless, inconsiderate and yes, inhumane pet owners. Her personal commitment to fix our broken Animal Control system has included; extensive research on effective county and municipal policies that have shown high rates of success in eradicating the problem when complaints are filed; the creation, compilation of data and summary of a survey of west Sonoma County residents that was submitted to Animal Control; and a detailed document of the issues residents of the county face, a clear and concise definition of nuisance barking and recommendations on the implementation of procedures, policies and laws that hold pet owners accountable.
My goal in creating Wise Woman Storytime is to put the spotlight on older women; to give them a platform to share their stories; and to highlight what a better world it is because of who they are and the difference they make. Alexia Lacey is one such woman and in the next 12 months of so I plan to have her back on the show to tell us how well the new nuisance barking policies are working in Sonoma County. Thanks to her.
By the way, check out this great website called Barking Dogs. It’s an excellent resource for those who want more information, resources and help.
I created Wise Woman Storytime on KOWS 107.3FM as a platform to showcase older women who through their passions, life experiences, lessons learned, attitudes and actions, make the world just that much better for themselves and for the rest of us.
My goal has been to shine the spotlight on these elderwomen for all to see; to offer their stories as a testimony to what is possible when one has a dream or passion, when one has overcome challenges and when one’s beliefs are so strongly held, that life must be lived accordingly.
I offer these stories to be sources of inspiration and introspection; to open up connections between the generations; and to restore the rightful place of reverence and respect to our elder mothers. Through these stories, I strive to inform, share history and build a better tomorrow.
The child of Holocaust survivors, Charlene Stern grew up and continues to be a student of her parents’ lives. Throughout her life, she has searched for answers to the often unspoken stories of her mother and father’s earlier years.
Ben Stern, her father, survived the Molgenicia and Warsaw Ghettos, 2 death marches, and 9 concentration camps, In the 1970‘s in his adopted city of Skokie, Illinois, 30 years after his liberation, Ben took a stand against a planned Nazi march in his hometown. When no one would back him up – not the ACLU, nor the city of Skokie or his Jewish community, Ben refused to back down.
Charlene is producing and directing a documentary film called One Ordinary Near Normal Man. Ben Stern, an ordinary, near normal man is the centerpiece. Rather than focus on the horrors and evils of the Holocaust and the betrayal and victimization of those who suffered, Charlene instead is making a film about how courage, compassion kindness, goodness and faith can be forces for creating a more humane and just world.
This is a story about the resiliency of the human spirit. There is a Ben Stern in all of us. What a better world this would be if we could all learn to love, be kind, live with integrity, and to stand up for what we believe in – even when we have to do it alone.
One Ordinary Near Normal Man is a tribute to her father’s tenacity, chutzpah unimaginable will, and commitment to stand up for what is right and good, Targeting (but not limited to) an 18 – 24 year old audience, the film intersects the life of this 93 year old man with the younger generation, offering the lessons of those before to be understood, internalized, and translated into advocacy for peace, harmony and sanity for the future.
It’s impossible for me to wrap my head around the cruelty that humans are capable of. In the past 150 years, tens of millions of men, women and children have lost their lives in genocides and mass atrocities. Millions have been separated from loved ones, tortured, raped, starved, demeaned, and lost everything after being forced from their hones and land. Think of our own Native Americans, the Armenians, the Jews of Europe, and the people of Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur who have been innocent victims of political, racial, and religious hatred. And it doesn’t stop!. Right now, the people of Burma, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Sudan, Kenya, Nigeria and Syria are threatened and living in terrible peril.
Of my recent guests on KOWS 107.3FM, Wise Woman Storytime, almost half of the elderwomen have been actual survivors of the Holocaust or the children of Holocaust refugees or survivors. As a Jewish woman who grew up in New York, I am fortunate that no one in my immediate family was subjected to these atrocities. Over the years, I have studied world history, seen the movies and read the books, but nothing prepared me for the impact of these first hand accounts.
This was especially true for me when I had the privilege of meeting and reading and then hearing the story of Lillian Judd, a survivor of Auschwitz.
Born in 1923, the young Lilly enjoyed a happy life in a loving family. Life was never very easy in Uzhorod, Czechoslavakia, but the family worked hard, grew much of their food and wore the clothing their mother was skilled at making.
But life changed in 1938 and became progressively more difficult once her home country of Czechoslovakia was handed over to Germany and the Hungarian Army marched into her home town of Uzhorod. Anti-semitism raged, young boys were sent to forced labor camps, many disappeared, women had to make choices between food and warm clothing for their families and all work by Jews had to be done without a work permit. Heaven help the one who was reported to the authorities.
In 1944, the Jews were removed from their homes and forced to live in an old brick factory. The lucky ones got to live in the open stalls. Those less fortunate scrounged for materials to build a shelter for their families. After 6 weeks of little food and water, the Klein family, along with others were marched to the train station and crowded into box cars with no light, food, water or toilets. Four days later they arrived at Auschwitz.
What is amazing about Lillian’s story is how she not only survived one of the world’s most heinous atrocities, but much more so, how she has healed herself and at 91 years of age is still working tirelessly to make sure that she does everything she can to speak about the Holocaust as an opportunity to educate, inform and help stop current and future genocides.