Monday, March 23, 2015

OUT WITH THE OLD, IN WITH THE NEW: SPRING ORGANIZING TIPS

It's SPRING!  Time to bring some new, fresh energy into your life - and that includes the spaces where you live and work.

It's important to create places and habits that help you to feel calm, focused, peaceful, motivated, inspired and energized. Spring is a great time to do just that!

Here are some tips:

1.  Breathe some new life into your home office! Weed your files. Get rid of papers and categories of files that are no longer relevant or do not serve you. Create file folders for new projects or things you would like to bring into your life. The names you give to files only have to make sense to YOU!

2. Take some time to set up your clothes closet so that it functions as a place where you enjoy getting dressed in the morning.  Look at one item of clothing at a time and ask yourself:  Do I love it? Does it fit right now?  Do I feel good in it? Do I wear it regularly?  Does it need cleaning or mending?  Sort out what you want to keep, toss/recycle, repair or donate.  Housing Works Thrift Shop is a wonderful place to donate clothing that is in good shape.   There's one in Park Slope and one in Brooklyn Heights.  

3.  Clear your desk!  Nothing feels better than sitting down to a clean slate. Treat your desk like a work space, not a storage space.  Only keep items there that you use daily  - keep other items nearby on shelves or in drawers.  If you don't love file cabinets, use a rolling file cart or an open filing crate for projects you are working on.  Invest in a few new accessories to brighten up your desk! I like the jewel-colored ones at Poppin.

4.  January is not the only time to set goals!  Spring is the perfect time to re-visit the goals you set in January, or even to set some new ones.  Take some quiet time to set intentions for the different areas of your life: home; family/friendships; health/self-care; work/education; spiritual; civic/community work; inspiration/creativity; and finances. Where do you want to put your attention ? How do you want to move your life forward? Write it all down and use it as a guidepost when you plan out your days.

5.  Bring nature indoors and let it serve as inspiration.  Put a vase of flowers or a potted plant  anywhere that clutter tends to accumulate. It’s less tempting to let clutter build up where there is beauty!  Open all windows and let the fresh air move through your space.  It's been a long winter and it's time to let in the new energy of Spring!


*** Is there a Spring organizing project you would like a hand with?

Contact The Brooklyn Organizer: 929-224-4849 & eleanor@thebrooklynorganizer.com
Where you can find us:  Facebook.com/thebrooklynorganizer

Since 1999, The Brooklyn Organizer has helped busy women simplify and streamline their lives. We offers hands-on support to women who want to feel calm, inspired, and truly at home in spaces where they live and work. We help you to: Set goals and priorities * Better manage your time and energy * Create easy-to-use file systems * Clear your desk * Streamline your closets  * Identify resources for desk and office accessories that you love. We work with women in Park Slope, Carroll Gardens, Cobble Hill, Boerum Hill, and Brooklyn Heights. 

Saturday, February 28, 2015

THE POWER OF AN IMAGE


From Le Pain Quotidien Cookbook

I am someone who likes to surround myself with images which serve as reminders of what's important to me and what I want to bring into my life.  I know that some people like to create vision boards.  Those are great!  I often like to put up greeting cards with inspirational messages and pictures.

Recently, I wanted to choose a new background image for my personal Facebook page.  I decided to choose an illustration which caught my attention in the Le Pain Quotidien Cookbook.  Le Pain is a chain of bakery restaurants which feature large, communal tables for patrons to sit around.

I chose this image because one of my goals this year is to keep creating opportunities to build community, friendship, and collaborative efforts with other individuals and groups.  I think it's so important to have pictures that remind us of what it is we want to bring into our lives.  

What's interesting is what happened after I posted this picture on my FB page.   I found myself repeatedly sitting around large, communal tables to share meals with people, to make art, to have meetings that were highly collaborative in their nature.

Here are some examples:
  • I sat at big, long tables with the neighbors to the apartments on either side of ours to make Valentine cards out of huge piles of fun arts and crafts supplies.
  • After joining a Universalist Unitarian church,  my husband and I were invited to a member's home where we sat around a big table to enjoy a home-cooked meal.
  • I happened upon a neighborhood storefront which serves as a church.  The service includes a shared meal, so the space features a bunch of long tables that people can gather around.  Recently, the church decided to offer itself up as a co-working space.  I went to a day to sample it out, and signed on for a month.  I'm so excited; I've always wanted to be in a co-working space!
  • I joined my church's membership committee.  Every month, we gather around a table in the church office to brainstorm ideas and solutions.
I think I'm going to keep the Quotidien image up on my FB page for a while.  Just so I can see what happens next.  Images are such powerful things!

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

KAM MAK DOES IT AGAIN WITH THE YEAR OF THE RAM STAMP

Even if you missed out on this year's Lunar New Year festivities, you can still partake in the spirit of this amazing celebration by learning more about the Year of the Ram Forever Stamp.

I'm particularly excited about this stamp, because the artist behind it is my friend and neighbor Kam Mak.

You can find out more about Kam HERE.

You can learn the back story of how I met him and learn about all the great stuff he has accomplished by taking a look at this post:

Kam Mak, The Man Behind the Lunar New Year Stamp

During a recent phone chat with Kam, I learned that the city of San Francisco was flying him over there to be part of their Lunar New Year festivities.  Hooray!

Friday, February 13, 2015

A NEW, AFFORDABLE SPACE FOR CO-WORKING IN THE GOWANUS NEIGHBORHOOD


Mmmmmm..........freshly-baked cookies!
Sometimes, it's nice to have the quiet of home to get thinking and work done.  But it can get too quiet, y'know?  Sometimes, it can be fruitful to go to the public library and work on projects om a livelier atmosphere.  But there, you only get a half an hour at a time on their computers and it can get pretty raucous, especially after school lets out.

It seems like a happy medium (with a whole lot of other perks thrown in) is co-working.  Folks can work independently, but get to be around other self-starters, entrepreneurs, etc.  With co-working spaces, there can be nice touches like a shared kitchen and eating space, copy machines, and the like.

I was excited to find out that a nearby dinner church, St. Lydia's, served as a home to a co-working arrangement.  This offering popped onto my radar after I took a great workshop from the Founder and Pastor, Emily Scott.

I paid a post-workshop visit to Emily at St. Lydia's, and checked out the space for myself.  It's a friendly-looking storefront with tons of light, and is loft-like yet still cozy in feel.  There is a beautiful kitchen in the back of the room.

There are two great ways you can try out St. Lydia's co-working space.  One is that you can request a free, one-day trial.  Another is that you can participate in Get It Done Tuesday, an all-day event that brings people together around work, goal-setting, yoga, walking, and eating.

For all the deets about co-working at St. Lydia's, CLICK HERE!!!

* Coworking at St. Lydia's: 304 Bond Street, Brooklyn; Monday - Friday 8 am - 6 pm
* Email: Stlydias(at)stlydias(dot)org

Friday, February 06, 2015

IT'S FEBRUARY 6, 2015. DO YOU KNOW WHERE YOUR GOALS AND DREAMS ARE?


Quick Quiz:

Are your goals and dreams

(a) firmly planted in the forefront of your mind and reflected in your daily priorities?

(b) floating around somewhere in the back of your mind?

(c) pushed aside completely in the rush and pressures of daily life?  

If you answered “b” or “c,” then this post is for you.

For a lot of folks, setting goals can feel like creating a straight jacket for themselves, or like a way of setting themselves up for disappointment or failure.

The truth is that goal-setting is important, and can be both fun and liberating.  The path to achieving your goals should be full of joy, magic, adventure, mystery, and self-discovery. Yes, there is also heartbreak, hardship, and disappointment along the way, but when your goals are compelling enough, and you have a good support system in place, the challenges on the path do not seem as daunting.

The key is to use rituals, habits, and tools that make the road to achieving your goals inspiring, joyful, and interesting for YOU!

Everything here is food for thought, so pick and choose which ideas work for you.  At the same time, be willing to step a bit outside of your comfort zone! 

Set up your headquarters so that your workspace inspires you.  
What does your work space – the place where you make phone calls, send emails, work on your blog or website, paint, draw, dream, think – look like? How does it feel to you to be in that space?  If you are a person who works best without clutter, clear off your desk.  Use it as a work space, not a storage space.  That’s what filing cabinets and bookshelves are for!  If you are a visual person, surround yourself with images that uplift you. I like to keep my Dream Binder on my desk, along with greeting cards with motivational messages.   Sometimes I light a candle while I am writing. (I just have to remember to blow it out when I am done!)

Keep a Dream Binder with your big picture goals.
I buy a 3-ring binder at an office supply store, one with a clear plastic pocket cover so I can create my own visual.  First, I create a theme for the year.  You can do this by filling in the blank.  2015: The Year That  _____________ or The Year of ____________.  Examples:  The Year that My Big Dream Comes True; The Year of Collaboration and Creativity; The Year of Great Health.  Choose a theme that is exciting and compelling to you.

Then I complete this sentence:  The biggest thing I want to be and feel this year is _____________.

I then move on to set and write down key goals for these areas of life: living space; fun; creativity; family/friendships; well-being; work; finances.  Maybe there are categories that you would like to add to the mix.

I look at this binder at least once a month to help me keep the big picture in mind; I use yearly goals as a guide-post for my monthly, weekly, and daily goals.
 
Set monthly goals
This year, I found a really great day planner called TheInnerGuide.  In addition to providing the conventional space to write in appointments and commitments, it also has pages where I can write down monthly priorities for each area of life.  I love this.  It makes me reflect where I truly want to put my attention and energy.  Each month, the planner asks “What results do you want to achieve this month? What specific actions do you need to take? How do you most aspire to be and feel this month? What thoughts do you need to embody to stay on track?” I take time before the start of each month to think and write about what’s really important in the next 30 days.

Set weekly goals
On Sunday night, I sit down and think about key areas of my life and write down what the priorities for each of those areas for the coming week.  

Set daily goals
At the end of each day, working off the weekly priority list, I make a list of goals for the following day and also create a rough schedule of what’s going to happen at what time.  Do I follow that schedule rigidly? No.  Within the world of  lists and goals, there is immense value in flexibility, serendipity, whimsy, and the following of hunches.  So if the to-list says “send follow-up emails” but I have an awesome idea for a blog post, I’ll save the emails for another time.

Drink daily doses of inspiration.
Pick a book - or two or three - that serves as a daily devotional for you. There are books with daily bits of inspiration that I look at at each evening when I am setting intentions.  One is Tama Kieves’ A Year Without Fear: 365 Days ofMagnificence.  There’s an inspirational message for each day of the year.  The other one is Julia Cameron’s TheArtist’s Way Every Day: A Year of Creative Living.  When I need some fresh ideas around goal-setting and goal-getting, I take a peek in Diane M. Scholten’s Be Your Own Life Coach: Dream It! Plan It!Do It!

Set up a dream team / support crew.
Isolation ranks high up there as a dream-killer. No one can go it alone.  We need people to give us feedback; we need practical advise; we need friends to cheer us on.  This can look all different ways.  You can get a coach or a mentor.  You can join or form a Meetup or mastermind group.  You can recruit a board of directors.

Work, think, and dream in the company of others.
Part of not going it alone, especially if you are a freelancer, an artist, or otherwise self-employed person, is to get out of the house.  Be around other people. Work at a cafĂ© or find a co-working space.  If you are an artist, find a place where other artists work.   

Keep a Gratitude Journal.
Ever hear that what you focus on expands?  Keeping a gratitude journal is a way of acknowledging the good things that are happening in your life, even (and especially) if the going is tough.  I used to think that a gratitude notebook was a corny, trite idea.  Then I started doing it and I got hooked.  I take one minute at the end of the day to jot 10 things I appreciate from the day.  It’s a nice note to end on before I hit the hay.

Act on hunches.
Sometimes, you will get ideas or intuitive insights that don’t seem to make a whole lot of sense.  Listen and act upon them.

Pay it forward: help other people to go for their dreams.
It’s definitely great to pay attention to and get behind your own goals and dreams.  It’s also important to keep the flow of energy circular.  You can do this by backing other people to go for their goals.  Be a sounding board to someone who is trying to launch an idea.  Let someone know about an article or a book that would be useful to them in what they are trying to accomplish.  If you show up for a workshop or networking function, make sure you are listening to what other people are trying to accomplish.  Introduce people to each other. 

Thank people who help you along the way.
Whether it’s in person, or via email, text, phone, with flowers, a hand-written note, or a small box of chocolates, it is so very important to continually thank people for the large and small ways that they help you towards your goals.  If someone takes time to give you great business advice over coffee, be sure to not only thank them but also to keep them posted on how their advice or wisdom has served you well.  Everyone wants to know that they have made a difference in the lives of others.

Know that it is possible to get to where you want to be.
I know it sounds basic, but it’s so important to have faith in yourself, your goals and dreams, and in the idea that the universe has your back.

Image Credit: Lindsay Hopkins at Pen and Paint

Thursday, February 05, 2015

AMAZING CHOREO BY WILDABEAST ADAMS: PART 2

AMAZING CHOREO BY WILDABEAST ADAMS: PART 1

BILLY PORTER ON TWITTER AND AT THE ROSE THEATER

When I learned that Billy Porter was going to be performing at Lincoln Center's Rose Theater, I was excited.

I first became a fan of Mr. Porter on Twitter, where he has 27k followers and serves up motivational and uplifting tweets such as these:



I had, admittedly, never seen Mr. Porter perform.  But I knew that he had won the 2013 Tony Award for Best Actor in a Musical for his role as Lola in Kinky Boots.  And that Kinky Boots had won for Best Musical and Best Score.  (Cool side note: Kinky Boots was Cyndi Lauper's debut as a Broadway songwriter, making her the first woman to win alone in that category. Yay, Cyndi!)

So when I saw that Billy would be performing at The Rose Theater, I knew I wanted to be there.

Mr. Porter kicked off the American Songbook Series in The Appel Room.  This space is stunning; it overlooks Columbus Circle.  Down in front are small tables where folks can enjoy refreshments during the show.  We sat towards the back, in the amphiteater-style seating.

Accompanied by a 13-piece orchestra, Billy launched the show with "But the World Goes Round,""Everything's Coming Up Roses" and "Don't Rain on My Parade."

There was also the Sammy Davis Jr. hit "I've Gotta Be Me," which served as a signifier of one of the evening's main themes of self-acceptance.  This theme continued in a suite from the show Kinky Boots, which included "I'm Not My Father's Son."

The evening ended with tremendous energy and power: accompanied by the Broadway Inspirational Voices, Mr. Porter performed his own version of "Sunday," a song from Sunday in the Park with George.

Many of the songs from the evening's show can be found on Mr. Porter's new CD Billy's Back on Broadway.

Also worth noting: Mr. Porter will join the national tour of Kinky Boots Aug. 4-9 when the musical visits his hometown of Pittsburg, PA.

* Photo Credit: Tony Cenicola, NY Times

Wednesday, February 04, 2015

BANK STREET ALUMNA AVAILABLE FOR K - 8TH GRADE TUTORING

Would you like a patient, focused educator to help your child with reading and writing?

Look no further!

I am an alumna of Bank Street College of Education with 25 years of experience working with children in public and private school settings, as well as in cultural institutions such as The Brooklyn Botanic Gardens and The Brooklyn Children's Museum.

A former Assistant Teacher at P.S. 29 and leader of family literacy workshops, I am a skilled writer with a 10-year-old arts blog and articles published on the web.

I support your K - 8th grade child to do the following:
  • Increase his/her confidence as a reader and a writer.
  • Develop an enjoyment of reading and writing.
  • Stay organized and on-task with homework assignments.
  • Establish patterns and routines to boost study savvy.
I work with families in the Park Slope, Carroll Gardens, Cobble Hill and Boerum Hill neighborhoods.

If you would like to chat about your child's needs, please contact me.  I would be delighted to hear from you.

Eleanor Traubman
etraubman@gmail.com


Monday, January 26, 2015

SCHULMAN AND HAMMERSTEIN: A GREAT "DOUBLE-HEADER" AT LINCOLN CENTER

Susan L. Schulman
After vowing to get myself to Lincoln Center more often this year, I traveled up there a few weeks ago for a great double-header.

First, I went to the NYPL Library for the Performing Arts to listen to Susan L. Schulman tell stories that formed the basis of her book Backstage Pass to Broadway: True Tales from a Theatre Press Agent.

When that event ended, I ran down the street to hear Oscar Hammerstein's grandson, Andy, present the history of his grandfather's music.

Ms. Schulman, a long-time press agent, started out by telling about her life growing up in New York.  She took dance lessons, went ice skating, and frequented both the library and the 92nd Street Y.  A self-described "theatre kid," Ms. Schulman would wait outside the stage door at the end of productions - not to get autographs, but to let actors know how much she enjoyed their performances.

In 1978, Susan opened up Schulman Publicity in the Paramount building. Over the span of her career, Susan  has worked with theatre figures such as Lauren Bacall, Zero Mostel, Mary Martin, George C. Scott, and Yul Brynner. She explained that it's the job of a press agent to "create the right expectations for critics and audiences."

Ms. Schulman recalled with fondness her encounters with famed choreographer Bob Fosse. She described him as someone who valued critics' feedback, "knew everything about everything," and was "the master of every single theatrical discipline."

At the end of her talk, Susan took questions from the audience.  A few folks wanted to know the impact of social media on how she approached her job.  I asked her for her thoughts on how to develop young audiences for theater.  She mentioned the late playwright Wendy Wasserstein's work as a co-foundre of Open Doors Broadway Mentors Program. 

After Ms. Schulman signed a copy of her book for me,  I ran down the street to the David Rubenstein Atrium to see Something Wonderful: The Songs of Rodgers and HammersteinAndy Hammerstein talked and showed slides about the history of his grandfather Oscar's work.  His anecdotes were brought to life by three talented singers.

Andy described Oscar as a "lefty with a lower case 'l'" who, like many [Jewish] artists of his times, was brought under the magnifying glass of McCarthyism and made the subject of an enormous FBI file.

One of the highlights of the event was joining the rest of the audience to sing "Do Re Mi" from The Sound of Music.  Truthfully, there were so many wonderful songs, I wish the entire evening had been a sing-a-long!

For more information about events at the NYPL Library for the Performing Arts, click HERE.
Fore more information about events at The David Rubenstein Atrium, click HERE.

Friday, January 23, 2015

NOT TO BE MISSED: BILLY PORTER AND CYNDI LAUPER AT LINCOLN CENTER ON WEDNESDAY, JAN. 28!


Billy Porter, the star of Kinky Boots, will be performing at Lincoln Center this coming Wednesday, January 28.  He will be joined by the one and only Cyndi Lauper.

There are two shows, 7:30 and 9:30. 

Tickets can be purchased HERE

 
 

Description Compliments of Lincoln Center's American Songbook:
 
Ebullient triple-threat and Tony and Drama Desk Award winner Billy Porter is a true New York City theater success story. As comfortable in a fully staged production as he is in a stripped-down studio with only a microphone in hand, the versatile and altogether irresistible Kinky Boots star appears here where his talents shine brightest—at center stage. On this night, music from his latest album of jazz-inflected Broadway standards, Billy’s Back on Broadway, has a starring role. Mr. Porter is joined by Grammy and Emmy-winning artist and pop icon Cyndi Lauper—the musical mastermind behind Kinky Boots—for a duet performance of “Happy Days Are Here Again/Get Happy.”

Monday, January 05, 2015

DANCER ON THE SUBWAY




Tonight, this dancer on the subway still had her costume on.  It was sparkly and magical.  Looking closely, I could see that underneath the top layer of netting in her skirt, there was a a string of lights like those found on a Christmas tree.  How pretty that must have looked up on stage when lit up! 

TWO GREAT EXHIBITS AT THE NEW YORK PUBLIC LIBRARY FOR THE PERFORMING ARTS
























I feel  incredibly lucky to live in a place that is so rich in opportunities to engage with and celebrate the arts.  This year, I am committed to getting out and taking advantage of more of these opportunities.

Specifically, I want to see more performances, go to exhibits, watch more DVDs, read more books, and talk to people in the arena of my first true love, the performing arts.

So I started 2015 by going to the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts to see "Somebody Come and Play:" 45 Years of Sesame Street Helping Kids Grow Smarter, Stronger, and Kinder.


The exhibit, conceived by Sesame Workshop archivist Susan Tofte, features Sesame Muppets, archival footage, scripts, storyboards, lead sheets, designs, and scores from the archives of the show.  There is also behind the scenes footage, animation cels, photographs, blueprints, and an architectural model of the set from the early 90’s. There's lots of nice opportunities to view show highlights, including a  look back at many of the celebrities and other notable people that have visited Sesame Street.

I sat down for quite a while on a tiny wooden bench with some 70s-style headphones to watch some of the archival footage.  I was fascinated by the clips from from the brainstorming sessions of the folks who conceptualized the show before it ever went on air.  I got teary-eyed as I listened to the cast explain to Big Bird that his dear friend Mr. Hooper had passed away and would not be coming back.
Also sweet was the episode where Luis and Maria get married.

Looking around at all the families passing through, and being reminded that Sesame is in 150 countries around the world, I could really feel and see  the impact that this show has had on the lives of millions of people around the globe.

After spending a few hours at the Sesame Street exhibit, I traveled to another part of the library and stumbled upon another exhibit.  This one was titled Broadway Revealed: Photographs by Stephen Joseph Behind the Theater Curtain.  In the center of the room were fantastic costumes from various musicals and plays.  How fun to see the bright red beauties (see photo above) from Kinky Boots standing proudly in a lucite display box.

On the walls surrounding the costumes wre photographs of all the people who work behind the scenes to make the magic that is Broadway.

In between visits to these two fab exhibits, I took time to explore the shelves of this branch of the NYPL dedicated entirely to the performing arts.  Such an exciting array of books, CDs, DVDs, and videos.  I checked out a book of essays by deceased playwright Wendy Wasserstein, as well as some DVDs from The Best of Soul Train collection.

I finished my time at the performing arts library by writing my dad a letter to thank him for taking us to some really great musicals when we were children, and for encouraging us to go behind the scenes to see what the performing arts were all about.

I hope to extend that sense of inquiry and wonder into 2015, and make it integral to many of the adventures which I seek out this year.

Happy 2015, everyone!

Sunday, November 30, 2014

A REPORT BACK FROM MOMI'S SESAME STREET: THE PARODIES


This year, Sesame Street turned 45 and so did I.  To celebrate, I went this past weekend to The Museum of the Moving Image in Queens to see Sesame Street: The Parodies.  It was a generous, 90-minute long compilation of clips of Sesame's version of movies, songs, and television shows.  Many thanks to Craig Shemin, President of the Jim Henson Legacy and a former Jim Henson Company staff writer, for creating this awesome set of clips. (More info about Craig here.)

Here's a punch list of some of the reel's highlights:

3 Ways To Continue the Fun....

1. If you'd like more Sesame adventures, come check out the exhibition Somebody Come and Play: 45 Years of Sesame Street currently on view at The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center.
 
2. Keep checking back with the Museum of the Moving Image website for the highly-antipated 2015 opening of The Jim Henson Exhibition and Gallery
 
3. Check out other Sesame-related posts from Creative Times:

Monday, October 06, 2014

BANK STREET ALUMNA AVAILABLE FOR K-8TH GRADE TUTORING


Would you like a patient, focused educator to help your child with reading, and writing?

Look no further!

I am an alumna of Bank Street College of Education with 25 years of experience working with children in public and private school settings, as well as in cultural institutions such as The Brooklyn Botanic Gardens and The Brooklyn Children's Museum.

A former Assistant Teacher at P.S. 29 and leader of family literacy workshops, I am a skilled writer with a 10-year-old arts blog and articles published on the web.

I support your K - 8th grade child to do the following:
  • Increase his/her confidence as a reader and a writer
  • Develop an enjoyment of reading and writing
  • Stay organized and on-task with homework assignments.
  • Establish patterns and routines to boost study savvy.
I work with families in the Park Slope, Carroll Gardens, Cobble Hill and Boerum Hill neighborhoods.

If you would like to chat about your child's needs, please contact me.  I would be delighted to hear from you.

Eleanor Traubman
etraubman@gmail.com
Facebook.com/brooklyntutorFacebook.com/brooklyntutor
Creativetimes.blogspot.com

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

ROALD DAHL-O-WEEN PARTY: MAKING LITERATURE A FAMILY AFFAIR AT PS 32 IN BROOKLYN

It's one thing to read a book by Roald Dahl, but it's quite another to see his books brought to life by an entire school.

Last Saturday, when I entered the playground of PS 32 in Brooklyn, here's what I saw:  Parents, children, and teachers dressed as characters from Road Dahl books such as Fantastic Mr. FoxCharlie and the Chocolate Factory, and The Witches.  I saw families playing games based on Dahl books.  I heard songs from the Charlie and the Chocolate Factory movie soundtrack floating in the air.  I felt the magic of these books embodied by a whole community of readers.

The principal, Ms. Florio (see photo above), was dressed at The Golden Ticket from Charlie.  "The art teacher, Dave,  made this costume for me," she proudly shared.  The back of the costume read, true to the ticket described in the book, "In your wildest dreams you could not imagine the marvelous surprises that await you!"

Over in another corner, a student was dressed like Violet when she turned into a blueberry.

A father and a daughter wore costumes which depicted the foxes from Fantastic Mr. Fox.

After milling around and taking in the pageantry, I stopped to listen to some of the people who had made this event possible; these included school librarian Adam Marcus and Deborah Florio, the principal.  School Chancellor Carmen Farina, who has a 30-year relationship with PS 32, also spoke to the crowd. Off to the side, I chatted with  Francine Cuomo, the school's Business Manager.  Ms. Cuomo, who had worked hard to help build the library and organize the day's event, was heartened by the impact of the library on the school culture.  Dave Chimoskey, the school's art teacher, was also instrumental in creating the enchanted event.

So how did this event, with its beautiful community of readers, come to be?

In the summer of 2009, Principal Florio asked teacher Adam Marcus to build a library for PS 32.  Marcus, with the help of a library advisory committee, raised more than $500,000 to create what would become the hub of the school.

Fast-forward to 2014, when PS 32 became one of 20 schools in the country to receive a Roald Dahl Charlie and the Chocolate Factory grant.  The grant was bestowed by Penguin Young Readers Group as a team with First Book Advisory Boards in celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the legendary book.

The honor included multiple copies of all Dahl's books, a giant Charlie bean bag for the library,  and last Saturday's party, which was sponsored by First Book, Penguin Publishing,  Hay Rosie Craft Ice Cream Co., and The Chocolate Room.  The party, took place on September 13, Roald Dahl Day, and was generously staffed by 70 volunteers from places like Good Shepherd Services and The American Association of Publishers.

On a personal note, I am greatly inspired by the work and imagination that this school's teachers, administration, and parents have invested in creating the gem that is the PS 32 library.  Many public schools nowadays do not have a library, or have turned their library into a computer center.  What better way to foster young people's love of reading by building a beautiful, comfortable, cozy, friendly space where a child (or an adult!) can plop down on a couch and bury her nose in a book.

Keep up the great work, PS 32!!

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

MY FIRST TIME DOING KARAOKE


The song "California Girls" by The Beach Boys is pretty sexist, but I had fun singing it with my husband Mike Sorgatz last Friday in front of a group of people.

We had zipped through a little Red Hook Gallery exhibit and wanted a bite to eat.  "How about Hope and Anchor?" I suggested.  It was a small, fun, neighborhood-y diner-like joint in Red Hook with super decent prices and stuff we normally do not have at home.  (Mac 'n' cheese fritters, anyone? Definitely a sometimes treat!)

We sat down to order, and eventually a family with two young daughters came in.  They both looked super excited to be there, and they were definitely there on a mission.  That mission was to sing as many songs as they could on Karaoke Night.

 Every Friday and Saturday evening, the owner Pete gets into drag, hands out huge books with thousands of song choices, and tells folks who want to sing to write down the name and number of the song on a post-it before handing it to him.

Pete - a/k/a Stella Dora - is a great host.  S/he has a great sense of humor and a pleasant singing voice, but lets the guest singers shine, too.  The two aforementioned sisters, around 12 and 7, sang about 8 songs together.  Some of the wait staff sang, and one young man boisterously belted out the theme song to Sesame Street. I couldn't help but high-five him when he was done; his enthusiasm was contagious!   The songs ranged from Daft Punk's "Lucky" to Bobby Darin's "Mack the Knife" to Journey's "Don't Stop Believin'".   Ah, memories!

I was one of those children who was always making up songs, dances, plays, musicals, and radio shows, so karaoke was right up my alley.  It was so great  to sit there and sing along to songs from a variety of decades.  And even more fun to do it in a small and cozy neighborhood setting with an expert host.

Was I nervous getting up in front of the group?  Yes!  But no one cared what your voice sounded like.  It was all about fun and participation.

We will definitely be back!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

SAVE THE DATE: RED HOOK INITIATIVE'S 8TH ANNUAL TASTE OF RED HOOK IS SEPTEMBER 30TH

 

Taste of Red Hook” will take place on Tuesday, September 30, 2014, from 6-9pm at Pioneer Works, Center for Art + Innovation (159 Pioneer Street, Brooklyn).

 More than 40 local restaurants, distilleries, and wineries will offer a wide sampling of their signature dishes and drinks. “Taste of Red Hook” is the annual fundraiser for the Red Hook Initiative (RHI), a community-based nonprofit that works to confront poverty through a model focused on youth development, community building, and local hiring.

 "Taste of Red Hook is a unique event in our neighborhood," says Jill Eisenhard, RHI's Founder & Executive Director. "It is one of the few occasions where small business owners, home owners, public housing residents, elected officials, and local supporters are all gathered under one roof. Not only is it a fun event, the proceeds also contribute to true systemic change and pathways out of poverty for Red Hook youth."
"We've participated in Taste of Red Hook since it first began eight years ago, and are proud to be a part of it," says Ben Schneider, co-owner of The Good Fork, a nationally acclaimed restaurant. "Taste is a special night of the year when Red Hook businesses get together to eat, drink, and celebrate our community."
All proceeds from Taste of Red Hook go to RHI, winner of the 2012 New York Magazine Award for Excellence in Nonprofit Management. RHI employs over 100 local residents, a majority of whom are teenagers or young adults. Many of these youth participants will be present at the event to speak about their role at RHI.
 
Tickets for RHI’s only fundraiser of the year are available on the RHI website: www.rhicenter.org
 
This year's event is sponsored by Terra CRG, The O'Connell Organization, aptsandlofts.com, Kamco, Koya Leadership Partners, Massey Knakal, New York Water Taxi, EILEEN FISHER and International School of Brooklyn.
The following establishments are some of those that will participate in Taste of Red Hook 2014: Alma, Baked, Blue Marble, Brooklyn Crab, Brooklyn Ice House, Court Street Grocers, Defonte's, Fairway Catering, Fleisher's Pasture-Raised Meats, Fort Defiance, Good Fork, Grindhaus, Hometown, Hope & Anchor, IKEA, Jack from Brooklyn, Kevin's, La Slowteria, Margaret Palca Bakes, Mark's Pizza, Nightingale9, Pok Pok NY, Raaka Chocolate, Red Hook Bait & Tackle, Red Hook Lobster Pound, Red Hook Winery, Six Point Craft Ale, Steve's Key Lime Pie, The Chocolate Room, Uncouth Vermouth, Van Brunt Still House, Whipped Pastry Boutique, and Widow Jane.

Monday, August 11, 2014

BIKIN' IN BROOKLYN: IT TOOK A VILLAGE TO RAISE A CYCLIST


I am proud to be a lady biker.  A Brooklyn-based lady biker.
But I wasn't always one.  I was too scared to ride a bike alone and in traffic.

My man bought a bike for me many years ago when we were newer to Brooklyn.  I rode a few times with him, and that was it.  I was too scared to ride in traffic on my own, so Pink Bike sat idly, chained up to to a street sign on our block. 

Years passed.  I joined a health support group at a local YMCA. We set goals each week and rallied around each other to reach those goals.  One week, I said to the group "I am going to get on my bike and ride it for TWO BLOCKS to the neighborhood park." "That is a great goal!" said the group.

I was scared, I mean really scared, to get on the bike without the company of my husband.  I did not know traffic rules.

But I got on the bike, and started pedaling toward the park. 

Once my trip was underway, a strange thing happened: I got to the park, but instead of stopping there, I kept pedaling.  I somehow remembered the way, more or less, to a path by the water that went through Brooklyn Bridge Park and then into DUMBO.

Wait a sec, how did this happen?

I pedaled home, not believing what I had done.  When I got off my bike to lock it up, I was shaking pretty hard.  I don't know if it was from fear, fatigue, or both.

But I had done it - I had ridden my bike through traffic all by myself!

It's weird, because adults aren't supposed to get excited when we overcome fears.  But I think we should! And we should celebrate our successes and share stories of overcoming fears with other adults.  Why?  Because it breaks down the isolation we experience around the fears we carry, and  because we can help inspire each other to address our fears with support.

Example:  I was chatting with one of the employees of the place where I bank.  He told me he would love to learn how to swim, but never had taken it on because of a near-drowning experience he had when he was very young.

I told him about my experience with riding a bike alone. I said that I thought it was much easier to deal with fears with the support and accountability of a group, like the one I was part of at the Y.  I told him that the Y taught people just like him how to swim.

The next time I came into the bank, I asked Banker Man if he had taken any steps toward swimming. He said he had told his girlfriend about the idea, and that they were thinking about taking a swim class together.  I was so excited to hear this!

Back to biking for a minute.

There are some other things I did to keep building courage and support around being a lady biker.  I discovered a great organization called WE BIKE NYC.   WE BIKE is a community of women who ride bikes and who provide a safe space for women to ride together regardless of speed, skill, and riding style.  Every month, they offer different events to get more women on the road. These events include social rides, training rides, mechanics workshops and field trips.  

I went to a WE BIKE Rules of the Road workshop, a social gathering at a Lower East Side bar, and met up with some WE BIKE cyclists in Red Hook after they had rode their bikes in from Manhattan.  (I'm not quite ready to do the Brooklyn-Manhattan round trip yet.)

I also went to the New York Bike Expo just to hear a group of women panelists speak about Women's Biking in NYC: Your Questions Answered.  Very inspiring!

And guess what?  I did once injure myself, trying to be a bad-a**. Yes, that's right, I tried to jump a curb, but did not have enough speed to clear it.  So I sustained a painful soft tissue injury on my hand for a number of months.  But I survived and kept going.

Now, basically anywhere I would normally walk to, I ride my bike. 
Also, my bike has gotten me out of some pinches, like the time the F train was not running and I was going to be late for a doctor's appointment where I would have been fined for not showing up.  I hopped on my bike, raced through traffic to another subway line, and got to my appointment.

One last thing:  I am still scared when I ride my bike.  But I am also having a great time.  I am so glad I decided to push past the initial fear, with the help of a great group, and pursue my desire to ride. 'Cuz now I can ride like the wind!

Do you have any fears that you have overcome with the help of a group or another person?  Do you have any current fears you would like to overcome?  What might be a next step for you?

Whatever your goal may be, I am here cheering you on!