Thursday, May 27, 2010

The Pauper Child

Childhood experiences form the backbone of many folktales. This is when most of us learn life's important lessons. Unfortunately, not all lessons are happily learned because children can be cruel to one another.

In this poem and accompanying painting on the left, My Old Brown Shoes, Marion Witte, author of Little Madhouse on the Prairie (Angel Heart Publishing) shares with us the shame she experienced as a child who was looked down upon because of her hand-me-down clothing.

In an effort to overcome the pain, she sought her father's counsel. His words gave her comfort and, more importantly, a perspective about what is really important in life. In this case what she wore in her heart was more important than what she wore on her feet.

In fact this particular memory (folktale) shows us how she's been able to turn seemingly unbearable moments into learning opportunities that now help other children elsewhere. One such example is her Angel Heart Foundation which advocates for the rights of all children.

Perhaps one day someone will write a folktale about her!

My Old Brown Shoes

A girl in my class, at my school
Saw my shoes had a little tear
She said they looked like something that
A hobo bum would wear

Another boy joined in with her
Together they laughed at me
Children can sometimes be so cruel
My hurt they did not see

I cried that night, I was so sad
Embarrassed and ashamed
I wanted to dress like everyone else
For that I can’t be blamed

I asked my daddy for advice
For the pain I could not bear
He took a breath and smiled down
These words he then did share

“Your shoes may be a little tattered
And they are handed down
Yet they are strong, and they are clean
And we keep them polished brown”

“The shoes you wear, matter not
They will soon be thrown away
But the love you wear, in your little heart
Will last forever and a day”

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Florida Folk Festival: History in the Making!

Folk festivals are one of the most common ways to keep folk traditions alive. From dance, to music to food and arts, these social gatherings celebrate the past AND they also celebrate the future because they keep introducing people to folkways that could otherwise fade with time.

Take for example the upcoming Florida Folk Festival. Held May 28 - 30, 2010, this three day celebration offers people a chance to see Florida's particular expressions of folklore.

From Irish fiddle tunes and kumquat pie, to the wide varieties of music brought by immigrants, the state’s cultural heritage - now celebrating it's 58th year - reflects the lives of generations of Florida families and communities old and new.

Folk artists and tradition-bearers presented each year in the Folklife Area reflect research and field documentation conducted by the Florida Department of State’s Folklife Program. The Folklife Area celebrates the diverse cultures of Alachua County, located in the heart of north central Florida.

Activities include:
==A peek into decades of families earning a living catching catfish in local lakes using trotlines more than 2,000 feet long through the master fishing fly and artificial bait makers who will be on hand to show visitors their crafts.
== Gainesville’s vibrant Indian community's performance arts (music and dance).
== Traditional Cracker cowboy buckskin whip making by master artist-apprentice teams from Okeechobee and Orlando.
== Cowboys demonstrating roping and conduct a public roping contest each day for cowboys and cowgirls of all ages.

For a complete list of activities and complete schedule visit their website.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Death, Dying and Afterlife: More Than Meets the Eye

More Than Meets the Eye
True Stories about Death, Dying and Afterlife
ISBN 0-9753870-6-5

In More Than Meets the Eye, published by Write On! Publishing, author Yvonne Perry explores one of life’s greatest mysteries: death.

She takes on the topic in an easy to follow format. In a little more than 150 pages she explores our cultural ideas about death and the dying process in order to bring us to some understandings about life here and in the hereafter.

Basically she suggests that life and death are on the same continuum. That death is as inevitable as birth and the choices we make between those two points will touch us in the afterlife which she refers to as part of the cycle.

“As it is in heaven so it is on earth and vice-versa. Birth, death and rebirth are simply part of a cycle similar to the seasons of our earth. There are seasons for planting, growing, waiting, harvesting, fading and resurrection,” she writes in the book’s Conclusion.

Her thinking is similar to that exhibited in Einstein’s famous E=MC2. Namely that energy can never be created or destroyed. It is always in a state of becoming. She writes: "Energy replaces energy whether we see it or not. Death may seem like a dormant season, but it is far from it.”

The goal of the book is to celebrate the choices we have in life AND in death. Neither, she suggests, is to be feared.

“I can remember sitting in the back of the church and listening to the preacher talk about Heaven. If Heaven is so wonderful, I reasoned in my young mind, why are people so sad when someone dies and goes there?” Perry writes.

Why indeed?

Perry, a graduate of American Institute of Holistic Theology has spent a great deal of time and thought on how death can be embraced as a natural process that leads to other realms of reality. Utilizing the stories of those who have either had near-death experiences and/or have had interactions with loved ones who have passed on, she shows the many facets of experiences that are possible for the living.

These true story interviews are, in a way, folktales about death. Personalized accounts they each reflect back to the reader someone’s unique experience of death and each of those experiences share similar elements. For example, in near death stories each person returns to the living to continue working on this level of existence for the greater good of all. Those who do not return, move through the veils between life and death and experience spiritual opportunities that the living can only dream about.

More Than Meets the Eye offers hope and guidance (including a sample Health Care Directive) for those who are preparing for a transition to the Afterlife, and the caregivers and/or family members who know them. It also provides insights into the life/death cycle that motivate us to take advantage of the opportunities we have to know and experience more than meets the eye.