Written by: Jacqueline Stahl
Side orders just for your enjoyment...
Stories of the Unfaithful...
For two years I led a woman's group focused on love stories, fulfilled and unrequited. The women shared the pain of their affairs, their lover's affairs and the prospect of ending what they thought was the real thing.
The boldest woman in the group was an actress in her early 30's, newly engaged to a shy and talented artist. Her daily schedule was earmarked for workouts, acting classes, therapy, and writing poetry. The group was formed shortly after her mother died of stage four lung cancer. Each week she arrived late, her face powdered with grief and her mouth firing nonstop about the unfairness of life. The other women didn't wilt under her feisty commentary about the "ugly bitches" she met at auditions and the vast amount of alcohol she put away on every shift.
They let her rip until she cried. After one of these emotional breakthroughs, she shared a story of a man that came into a hotel restaurant where she waited tables. He was from Florence, worked for a clothing retail company and traveled to New York every month for one week. Her description of him wasn't flattering, but his shortage of hair and his below average command of English didn't discourage her from venturing into danger.
Over the next few weeks, the women in the group leaned in as she read his emails and texts.
Everyone, including myself was captivated by this foreign Man.
He promised her, "I will wait for you till my last breath." He wrote that he fell in love with her laugh and beautiful eyes. "Do you accept my true sweet words?" He swore, "If I do not honor this divine and powerful force I may as well die. Ciao Bella un bacio!"
One of the women who had recently moved in with her girlfriend laughed out loud: "You have to sleep with him, you don't want his divine death on your conscience."
With every opinion and reflection shared, no one said "end" the relationship. Instead, they encouraged it. Everyone in the group remarked on how much happier she seemed and how radiant she looked.
The little Italian man continued to court her and plan cultural excursions on his days off. They went to the Met, the MOMA and drank champagne at the Peninsula. He planned to take her sailing in Croatia and Italia. Yet, they still had not consummated the relationship.
The fair skinned and provocative Violinist in the group told everyone that this little man was "poetically inserting himself into her life so he has something to look forward to. She's a safe bet, she's engaged, and looking for a distraction from her unsuccessful existence." Then she mumbled, "he probably has a really small..."
The lunging happened first and then a real fist and face slapping fight broke out in my 300 square foot office. Screaming, hair pulling and the C word vibrating off the walls.
"That is enough!" I shouted louder than I ever have in my life. "Sit down and don't say a word until I am finished. This group was not created so we can sit here week after week formulating judgments about one another. We are here to actively listen and genuinely share our lives with each other. We don't always agree with each other, because our personal experiences inform the way we analyze and perceive each moment. Feeling compelled to blatantly hurt or undermine someone is not only unproductive, it is cruel. We are also here so we can safely make mistakes and then apologize and move forward. Let's begin again."
The violinist stood up and walked over to the chair where the actress was sitting and reached out her hand. "I behaved like a little $h!t and I'm sorry. I think I'm jealous of you. You are engaged to a nice guy and you have this International unrequited love affair going on. I have such a boring life and I'm angry at myself...not you. I didn't mean what I said."
The actress nodded her head and said, "He does have a really small..."
The group roared and we were out of time.
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So what's YOUR passion? Watch this video and be inspired by 11 & 12 year olds who are completing their final WOW Projects for Citizen Schools and The i adore me Kids Program. They have found their passion and used their creativity to impact their community.
Once we find our passion we can step into who we really are and what we want. There's no time like the present, so find that passion within you and bring it out into the world. We all have special gifts to share. What's yours?
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Written by: Betsy Karp
I can’t stop thinking about the tragedy and massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School on Fri, Dec. 14th. My heart and my condolences go out to all of those who lost anyone in this unthinkable, unfathomable occurrence. I am sending wishes and love to all those that are mourning and in deep, terrible pain.
I keep having this vivid visualization of 20 little, white angels in a beautiful circle, all holding hands with white snow coming down all around them. They are warm and toasty in their beautiful, white, down jackets and matching fleece berets, and they’re singing “Jingle Bells.” Everything is so pure and white, clear and clean, and the sky is lit up with so many beautiful stars. But there are perfectly, 20, brilliant stars shining down on each one of them. They are joyful and their spirits are so filled with love.
I keep picturing this over and over so that I can let go of some of the dark, angry, black and horrible feelings I have of this terrible tragedy. 20 little angels are singing, are loving and their spirits and souls are forever in our hearts. They are so pure and so loved, even for those who did not know them.
Take a minute now, close your eyes and envision what I have been visualizing. See if you can try to imagine these beautiful, 20, white, little angels. It is said that our spirits and our souls leave our bodies when we pass on, so let’s all remember and embrace them. If we all put our energy and love together for these families, just think how much lighter they will start to feel.
Life is so precious. It could be gone in an instant. So take some time today and remember how special the people in your life are. Don’t take anything for granted, because we don’t know when our time on this planet will be up. Look up in the sky tonight and let those 20 little angels shine on you.
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Founder of i adore me
Written by: Betsy Karp
I have twenty-two 11 and 12-year-old students in my i adore me
class, preparing for their “WOW” Project at Citizen Schools. Out of the 22 students, 20 of them are doing outstanding, inspirational, exciting work. The other two are a problem, and I’ll explain why…
One of these two students said to me, “I can’t do this. I don’t know how, I don’t want to and I’m not doing it.” My response to him was, “Let’s talk about it and see what we can work out.” He was very unruly, angry and belligerent, to the point that the principal had to come to the room. This child refused to have anything to do with the “WOW” Project, so the principal let him work on the computer in the back of the room.
This student is an artist and I have seen some of his previous work…he is quite talented. It was bothering me that he was so stubborn and didn’t want to at least try. He was feeding on the other student, who only speaks Spanish, who said that he couldn’t do it, because he doesn’t speak English.
As all of this was going on, one of the girls in the class came up to me and said, “Ms. Betsy, can you help me please? I don’t know how to draw people and robots for my ‘WOW’ Project.” As I was helping her, a light bulb went off in my head. I said to her, “I will help you with the people, but let’s see if we can ask your classmate on the computer in the back of the room if he would be so kind to help you (since he is such a talented artist) to draw the robots.”
I picked up a piece of yellow construction paper, we walked to the back of the room and the two of us kindly asked him for help. He looked up at me and said, “I can’t do it.” She said, “Yes you can. I’ve seen how great you draw and I really need help with the robots.” He looked up again and said, “Ok, I can help you but I can only draw on white paper.” I responded to him with, “Yellow is the color that inspires us to be positive. It’s also associated with our will. So I want you to please take this piece of yellow paper and help her to create some wonderful robots.”
By the end of the class, he handed me a work of art! He had titled this project “Halo.” He had drawn an ARMY of robots and wrote on the bottom of the yellow paper, “I Can.” I had tears in my eyes. Not only did he help his classmate, he learned to give back to his community (his fellow student), which is what the “WOW” Project is all about.
I complimented him and said, “You flipped your script. You went from ‘I can’t’ to ‘I can!’ How does that feel?” He said, “It feels really good! Thank you miss Betsy for believing in me, because now I’ve done the “WOW” Project too.”
After seeing all of this, the other student who only speaks Spanish decided he wanted to do something as well. I asked two other students who also speak Spanish to interpret for me. They asked him to write me something in Spanish that he loved about himself. He wrote, “I am going to try to do this project.”
It was a win-win for everyone.
Where in your life can you flip your script and start showing up for yourself? How can you start turning your “I CAN’Ts” into “I CANs”? Maybe you can find someone or something that can unblock you as well and get you out of your “comfort” zone. What’s your payoff in staying blocked? Color Your World
with yellow and let these kids be a symbol of inspiration to help you get unblocked. Isn’t it time you got out of your own way? *Please comment below and share with your friends.*
Founder of i adore me
Here is part two for the i adore me class I am teaching to 11 & 12 year old children for Citizen Schools. Through this course they are learning how to adore themselves, how color can impact their emotions and what that means for their community. The following are six short blogs by some of the students. They were asked what their passion is, what their favorite color is, how their passion and their favorite color makes them feel aWnd how they will use these things to support their community. The lesson here was to teach them how to express themselves through words. It’s interesting how a child’s mind works. We can learn a lot from them! They don’t edit themselves. I hope you enjoy their answers as much as I do:
Written by: Mansur Usman
My passion is that I want to be an artist to get money and play basketball. My favorite color is yellow. The reason why I pick that is because yellow makes me feel free and relaxed. The passion and the color makes me feel I am going to be a better person and be famous. I can use all of these to decorate my community and make it colorful. Or maybe the boys wants to play basketball or the girls want to be artists. And I could make my community a better place.
Written by: Leslie
My passion is counseling people. I love giving people advice. I’ve always loved giving advice. My favorite color is blue, because I love the way it makes me feel. It makes me feel secure. The way these things would help me support my community is that I could go do a big poster and I want it to be blue. I want the people to know that I’m creative…also what I’m capable of doing for my community. It’ll help them with their problems.
Written by: Merlin
My passion is to be a Marine. My favorite color is blue. It makes me feel safe and happy. I will help.
Written by: Marcel Daniel
My passion is being an artist and rapping. My favorite color is green, sage, because it makes me feel like I’m strong. I say it’s because my raps and drawings, and my color will change the world.
Written by: Mark Diaz
My passion is to play football and basketball. My favorite color is black. My passion makes me feel energetic. My favorite color makes me feel happy. A lot of people love black. I can also build football fields and basketball courts. They will be able to practice their dream.
Written by: Stephanie Porfil
My passion is playing Xbox Kinect. My favorite color is red and black. My favorite color makes me feel dark and bright. I will play games with kids who don’t have Xbox 360 to let them have fun.
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Founder of i adore me
A Child’s Insight
(ages 11 & 12)
I am teaching an i adore me class to 11 & 12 year old children for Citizen Schools. Through this course they are learning how to adore themselves, how color can impact their emotions and what that means for their community. The following are three short blogs by some of the students. They were asked what their passion is, what their favorite color is, how their passion and their favorite color makes them feel and how they will use these things to support their community. The lesson here was to teach them how to express themselves through words. It’s interesting how a child’s mind works. We can learn a lot from them! They don’t edit themselves. I hope you enjoy their answers as much as I do:
Written by: Nataley Encarnacion
My passion is to dance. My favorite colors are blue and purple. My passion and my favorite color makes me feel free, because I can dance any type of way and my color makes me feel good, because I can do anything that I stick to. I would use these things to support my community by building a dance class to teach other people how to dance. I would use my color in my dance class by if you feel good you can use that by telling everyone they can be free.
Written by: Markayla Turner
My passion is shopping and my favorite color is purple. My passion and my favorite color make me feel comfortable. And purple is cool and I love being cool. I will use these to support my community. And hurricane Sandy ruined some of the mall. People will want to shop for clothes and shoes. I will want them to be very happy when I help them. I will do a clothing drive, because I love going shopping.
Written by: Ines Lazu
My passion is dancing and singing. My favorite color is red, because red is love. My passion and favorite color makes me feel happy about myself. My passion which is dancing and singing will help my community, because I can raise money to help the poor people and the people who lost their homes. My favorite color, which is red, will help my community by not making people fight for no reason.
Written by: John Michael Dias
I had an epiphany today. This is something I realize that will change everything. I was in a particularly bad mood as I trudged my way to the A train from my apartment on my way to work. After the train finally pulled up to a screeching halt at the station, I found myself looking around at all the different kinds of people around me. I realized that everything I was noticing was coming from a negative place. I heard myself say things in my head like, "Who would wear those shoes?" "I hate the color of that woman's coat" "He needs a haircut." "I wish that jerk would cut the flap open on the back of his jacket!!!" "That girl's voice is sooooo loud and annoying!"
Firstly, Who am I to think these things about other people? Secondly, all of these people have their own story and just as much worth as I do. Instantly, that girl with the Loud, Annoying Voice let out a joyous guffaw of musical laughter and a switch went off in my head.
This girl’s laughter was filled with so much joy and positivity. I instantly looked back at every person I was judging unfairly before, looking at them now in a completely different light. I looked over at the man whose shoes I hated before and noticed he had huge, beautiful blue eyes. The woman who wore that coat I hated, had such a pleasant expression on her face and looked so confident and content; you could tell she loved what she was wearing just by her stance. The guy who needed a haircut was a busy dad with his two children. He was making them laugh by reading to them on the long train ride downtown, and it was adorable. And who knows? Maybe that other guy wasn’t ever taught to snip that thread on the back of his coat.
I continued to look around the train and found positive things about everyone around me. The woman across from me had a beautiful smile. The couple near me was holding hands and looked so in love. Before I knew it, I heard the sound of the sliding doors and it snapped me out of my trance. I was at 59th street and it was time to get off the train.
I found that I was in such a good mood on my walk to work and throughout the rest of that day. I found that people were looking at me differently. Could it be that because I was seeing the positive in them, giving out good energy, they, in turn, were seeing the positive in me? Stranger things have happened.
For the rest of the day I found myself exercising this technique. The second I felt some negative thought or judgment coming on, I would instantly counteract it with a positive thought. I intend to make this my new way of living.
I truly believe that negativity is like a drug; it’s extremely addictive. It is so easy to gravitate toward negative thoughts and dwell on the negative aspects of people and situations. When we think of the positives, focusing on what we can learn from experiences we are confronted with, we blossom.
With every negative is a positive. I truly believe the mind is everything. What you think, you become. I choose to think positively. How about you?
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written by: John Michael Dias
I am still glued to the TV and I feel grateful that I have power to watch it. It’s devastating what Hurricane Sandy has done. People have died, homes were destroyed, communities gone, and people’s livelihood’s shattered. It’s heartbreaking at times to watch all of this. Foundations have been ripped from the ground and need to be re-built. This is the time to be part of your community by helping others and joining together to make a difference one layer at a time.
The class I am going to teach next week to my middle school students is about building a foundation, creating structure in their lives and what it means to be part of a community. The synchronicity of all this is unreal. Unfortunately, I now have current examples to speak about. The one, truly important lesson that I’m really going to focus on with them, as well as myself, is the gift of gratitude; to be alive, to have food in my refrigerator, heat in my apartment, and the power of a working computer to write this blog.
Times like these really do wake you up to what’s important in life. We all sweat the small stuff. The lesson here is to appreciate and be grateful for the small things in life that we take for granted: power, hot water, and running water for that matter. I heard stories on the news of many people without water and working toilets. Acknowledge and appreciate the water you have, because that is gratitude. It’s something as simple as that!
In the eight years I have lived in my apartment in NYC, I have never seen my local grocery store run out of food. Well, yesterday they did. It was incredible to see. I wish there was more I could do to help people…more food that I could personally give. I feel the pain of the suffering people when I hear their emotional stories. They’re just heartbreaking.
One story was the silver lining of it all: a child was born in a gymnasium and everyone there was lending a hand. So maybe you can reach out and see whom you can help or lend a hand to. Possibly donate some food or offer someone a warm place to stay. It’s times like these that teach us to reach out and be part of our community, helping others. Be a strong support system and help someone rebuild his or her foundation. You will feel so good and so will they….
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Founder of i adore me