Ninth of the Ninth

Welcome to the ninth day of the ninth month, from a new member of an intentional community in rural Appalachia. Today, as the morning temperatures are slowly, steadily falling, we are still surrounded by colorful wild flowers.  Evidence of change and aging abound:  petals are curling, leaves are falling, and colors are fading.  Yet, in the midst of signs of death and dying, seeds and pods remind us of life.  Bees and hummingbirds are leaving, but not dying.  Just as the sun is still shining behind the cloud, even if we don’t see it, the bees, hummingbirds and geese live on, although out of our sight.

Slowly, ever so slowly, I learned how to trust Life that I could not see, Love that I could not feel, abundance that I could not imagine. Gradually I learned how to practice being in the fullness of Life, even if I didn’t feel, think or sense how alive I was.  A good friend told me to act as if, to be as if, to live as if everything is okay, to accept life as life happens, ignoring any anxiety or our many names for fear.  I scoffed.  I balked, but I practiced anyway.  Surprise, surprise: I began to feel, think and experience that everything is okay, good, even.  It’s a skill to continually ride the waves of life without being upset, afraid or under the delusion of control, and, as with all skills, practice is also continual.

I practiced and failed, practiced and failed, and still practice and fail.  My greatest improvement is that I remember to practice sooner, after I fail.  I began raising the bar by taking greater risks, also known as, putting fear to the side.  Thus, a  long, circuitous journey which I will tell you all about, another time (some of the tale is in previous blog posts), led me to my new home, living with four strangers, in a strange land where I knew no one.  Less than two months ago, fear/anxiety/distress/insecurity/worry or any thought of weakness could have easily overwhelmed me.  Those many forms of fear exist, pop up, and nag me frequently.  Oh, did I mention I’m the only “old” person in a household of tweens?  Self-consciousness  could also take over.  Practicing my exercises rescued me.  They are like breathing. And, Life has expanded again.

Actually, those exercises can simply be breathing.  Try being fearful while being aware of your breath.  Concentrate on inhaling and exhaling, feeling the air in your nostrils and lungs, the expansion of your belly and chest.  Slow down the exhalation, feeling the air wanting to escape while you hold it in, only gradually releasing it.  While you are paying attention to your breathing, you are not worrying about the future or feeling regret over the past.  You will not be homesick or full of selfish thoughts or kicking yourself for something you said last night.  You will be in the fullness of life.

Breathing is absolutely essential to life, and yet I have spent many days (years?) unaware of breathing.  The abundance of life, the fullness of living, can be easily accessed with the awareness of the abundance of air, in and out of our noses and lungs. The first morning at my new house I woke up with a moment of dread (another name for fear).  What have I done, committing myself to a year in an unknown place, thousands of miles from my western friends and family where I am the odd one out, in age, in my western ways, with years of urban experience, now useless in the country? Panic jumped up as a good option, but I remembered my breathing exercises: everything is all right, everything is good, everything is okay.  Everything is changing. Life and Love, alone, are changeless. Breathe in that delicious air, breathe out slowly that life-giving air. Look around you and be pleased.

I looked around me and I, from the drought ridden West, saw more green than I have ever seen. I, from the thirsty West, heard gurgling sounds from something tripping downhill called W-A-T-E-R.  I, recently from the Mojave desert where the sun blazes intensely on eyes and skin all day, without one tiny cloud of a break, looked up and saw the most spectacular white sculptures in the sky, then another set, then a new exhibit, never ending art, as abundant as the air.  Relaxation and peace came immediately.  Panic completely faded as an option. And, I was pleased.

Gratitude, like breathing, replaces my fear.  I now can live here and now, and live in the fullness of life.  Panic attacks of my youth, when I was a tween, are rare now.  Instead of feeding my fear, I can now delight in the wild flowers all around me.  I have never seen so many flowers, plants, trees and bugs that are foreign to my western eyes. I have never seen so much lushness and density of green upon green.  And, I’m the old one.

For all you young’ns, you have a lot to look forward to.  Start today.  Look around you, and be pleased.

August, Auspicious, Augural – Mid-year Reflection

Summer is on the march, and the sun is moving further south each day.  After intense work preparing for Without Words, the very end of July and beginning of August felt like a needed nap.  I’m not sure what just happened, but I seem to have awakened to the 9th of August.

This week, with eyes wide open, I will be taking inventory, reflecting on the first half of 2015, before moving forward.

Thank you-all who helped launch Without Words.  It was a great success, and will continue somewhere, somehow.  First, I will back-up to get a better view and a running start for the next jump.

Stay tuned for the next adventure life brings.  In the mean time, may you-all see augural signs for a bright or, at least, interesting time ahead.

When I emerge, again, hopefully, I will have news or musings to share.

Take time to take care.

For slowing down, before charging ahead,


Communicate, Connect and Enjoy with or without words

In/Visible Theatre’s Without Words, a production based on A Man Without Words is happening, in Boone, North Carolina – everyone is here and working. We and the theater’s potential can change attitudes, opinions, provoke feelings, thoughts, and transform. People in the audience and on the stage will engage in that transformation, soon.

“If you can get to Boone (July 24/25), check out for tickets.

Interested in giving a gift to help with expenses for our great cast, crew, costumes, and other production costs?

Scroll down and click that “button” to the left.  Donate to Signs of Life’s fiscal sponsor, Trillium, a 501c3.  All gifts, until July 22nd, will support Without Words.  Thank you. (if you would like to give all the gift to Without Words, send me a check to save the PayPal;s fee: write check to Trillium and send to Susan Schaller, 200 Pilgrims Way #2, Boone, N.C. 28607 – good only from now to July 30).

Or, see:

And/or  write me, if you would like to see a clip of the show on DVD (not yet made – give us a chance to rehearse, first : )  ).  Read more below.

Human Connection with a blog and “Without Words”, the play

In/Visible Theatre’s Without Words has been more than an idea for a while, but now this production based on A Man Without Words is becoming more concrete daily, with people beginning to show up, in Boone, North Carolina, including me.  I’ve been wondering about the theater’s potential to change attitudes, opinions, and to provoke feelings, thoughts, and, hopefully, new behavior. It seems so much greater than a book or film.  Why is that?  My answer to that question has already been stated: “…people showing up.”

Theater’s power is engagement.  Not only do people show up to engage for weeks beforehand, exploring new ways to communicate, others show up for the performances to continue the exploration and the engagement.  This process is dynamic, changing with each member’s participation on or off stage, trying out bits of life with old, new and changing avenues to use all our senses, feelings, thoughts and dreams.

It pulls us back to a time when we first appeared on the stage of the world, and all we could do was watch, then learn how to feel, listen, make faces, walk, mimic, and laugh or cry at others’ faces.  We learned how to move our hands, bodies, tongues and lips to add to our facial expressions; our most powerful tools were tantrums, feet stomping or jumping in the air to show our glee.  We are all acting.  We just forget that most of the time, until Shakespeare and others remind us.  Those reminders, often at the theater, enliven us, touching that foundation of connection of our first years of life.

Without Words, hopefully, will do more than point to connecting, and BE transforming.  The story of two people meeting and changing each other, and their lives, is a part of Without Words; and, about the power of connection, the hows and whats of connection.  It is possible to watch a film or read a book, quite alone, observing “them.”  A great film or book may pull you in, but too many allow you to stay on the outside.  Without Words, if it does its magic, will pull us all in, to learn from each other, to engage in the dance that is “we.”  My wish is that we will all be transformed by seeing that there is no “them.”

Join us and we will celebrate being we.  See, above, for how to connect.