#1161 If you saw birds on wires, would you hear music?

It all started with a newspaper photograph of birds sitting on electric wires. To Jarbas Agnelli they looked like the pattern of musical notes. He says: I knew it wasn’t the most original idea in the universe. I was just…


#1150 Making peace with the 24-hour day


Cloud gazing lifts more than my eyes. It lifts my spirits. And sometimes it teaches me lessons. The other day I looked up and saw a big, cloudy mouth in the blue sky. I swear it was laughing at me.…


#1129 We are NOT our insecurities

Esther Freeman and Steve Rosenfield

Behind the scenes with the Jews of NY photo by Elisheva Engel — with Esther Freeman and Steve Rosenfield.

In the last several days I’ve had conversations and exchanges, in person and online, about body image, divorce, dementia, overwork, money worries and a host of other topics that reveal something about the insecurities each person was facing.

When I wrote about Colbie Caillat’s song, Try, yesterday, I was thinking about the body shaming women endure. Today I’m contemplating a lot of other things that can undermine anyone’s sense of self. So this feels like the right time to share a project I came across recently, “What I Be”.

Photographer Steve Rosenfield started the project in 2010 with the goal of sharing people’s insecurities through photographs. He would write their greatest insecurities on their faces or hands. His subjects would look straight into the camera, owning their deepest fears. Each would be asked to write 500 words about how his or her life was affected by insecurity. He writes:

Subjects are putting their insecurities out in the open, and exposing a side of themselves that nobody has seen before. By stating “I am not my_____,” they are claiming that they do in fact struggle with these issues, but it does not define who they are as a person. They are not denying their insecurity, they are owning it. It is not aimed for people to say “You’re not fat,” or “You don’t have love handles.” It is to spread awareness on what people go through due to society’s paved roads. These are serious issues that some of us can live with, but most battle on a day to day basis.

On their own the photographs are compelling. Add the words and stories, and the project becomes an anthem to the human spirit and a call for compassion.

Steve Waylon interviewed Rosenfield for Elephant Journal. For a better understanding of What I Be and why it is so powerful, take a half hour to watch the video. Then bookmark the project site, share it with friends, and deepen your connection to the human condition.

You can follow Steve Rosenfield on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram and Tumblr.


#1110 One of Anthony Hopkins’ dreams came true after 50 years

Sir Anthony Hopkins

Sir Anthony Hopkins and his wife acknowledging André Rieu’s orchestra and the debut of Hopkins’ waltz; photo clip from video of the performance

Millions of people have watched the YouTube video of Dutch violinist and conductor André Rieu playing “And the Waltz Goes On” with his Johann Strauss Orchestra. But if you have somehow missed or forgotten it, you are in for a treat.

The composer of the waltz is Sir Anthony Hopkins, better known for his roles in such hit movies as The Silence of the Lambs, The Lion in Winter, The Elephant Man and 84 Charing Cross Road. His success on the screen overshadowed another of his talents, composing.

“And the Waltz Goes On” is a piece Hopkins wrote in 1964. The thought of one day hearing it performed was one of his dreams, but it was on hold for nearly four decades. He told the UK Independent he was watching one of André Rieu’s concerts one day and told his wife he would love to have the waltz played in Vienna. Without telling Hopkins, she sent the score to Rieu, who called Hopkins and invited him to Maastricht to hear his orchestra play it. Hopkins was in the audience when the piece was premiered in Vienna. Subsequently Rieu recorded it for his next album.

For a musician whose showmanship attracts thousands to his concerts and an actor whose talent has kept him busy for decades, the connection proved to be both an artistic and personal success. Hopkins told the Independent, “I have few sentimental attachments in my life but with André – well, I think we’ve become good friends.” Rieu echoed, “…there are not many people from whom I feel such openness and warmth without any shit.”

Watch Hopkins’ face in the video below, and see a look of sheer delight. This isn’t the actor’s only musical success, but it may be his favourite.


#1091 You are beautiful just the way you are

Colbie Caillat

The pressure to measure up to some cultural standard of “beautiful” – to wear the right clothing and makeup, have the culturally accepted body type and convey sexiness (and, of course, accept blame if she’s assaulted) – is so powerful…