Monday, December 24, 2012

Film: Scarlet Star Studios Christmas Tradition - Toby

I love this Christmas video. It's been a tradition for Scarlet Star Studios to send out this video, "Toby's Christmas Miracle." It's fun. It's made by a couple of really cool and fun and very smart, creative people.

I wanted to share the smile.

I hope the season is being kind and there is much joy and cause for celebration in life right now. Yes, I know times are not easy for many people for many reasons. I know there is darkness in the world and suffering. And I know that gratitude practice is important, too. As well as not being consumed by the darkness.

May this video bring you moments of light and hope. And a smile.

And thank you, Gretchin and Sven, for its creation and the sharing.


Friday, December 21, 2012

With or Without Ritual, the Season Changes


This is the time of year when even our clocks feel the stretch. There is so much more to do or at least the expectation that we have more to do and yet we are only left with a daily budget of twenty-four hours.

I know there is someone reading this and saying something like, "Well, you see, Dot, in truth we have exactly yadayada hours and umtydum minutes and xyznanoseconds." I'm sure there's some formula or measure where the number isn't exactly twenty-four hours. Or maybe it is. I don't know. What I do know is that our clocks measure out approximately twenty-four hours every day and that is what we have to work with.

The amount of lightness and darkness we experience changes as we tilt and float through space. But the hours are basically the same.

Different religions and spiritual beliefs hold celebrations during this time of year. They claim different deities or leaders, different dates and significance, different rituals. And we still turn. Whether or not we celebrate, regardless of how we celebrate if we do, the daylight grows shorter and then longer. And cycles back.

The world didn't end today.

But a cycle did. And as we passed the marker in time a new cycle began.

This is a time of change. Of going deep and returning. Of dreams and hopes, reflection both inward and outward.

May all of us be connected to the Greater Good. May our true path and dreams be manifest as we move through our life. And may our connections to the earth and all beings be strengthened.

I wish for light and blessings for all of us as we move into a new cycle and for strength to stay balanced when the darkness threatens to overtake us.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Free Workshop - Kim Stafford

In case you haven't heard about this, here is information about a free evening workshop with Kim Stafford in January.
Honoring Big Stories by Writing Brief Chapters
with Kim Stafford

Wednesday, January 16, 2013   5-8 p.m.

Lewis & Clark College, Graduate Campus

Teachers, students, and other citizens often carry stories too big to manage, or secrets too strange to tell.

As a launch for Kim Stafford's new book 100 Tricks Every Boy Can Do: How My Brother Disappeared, this workshop will explore how “the trick of beginning” can release possible epiphanies from the silence of impossible stories.

The evening will include refreshments, writing time, readings from the book, and music. To RSVP visit

Questions? Contact the Center for Community Engagement at 503-768-6040 or

Sunday, December 16, 2012


There were two more horrific events since my last post. I'm not going to recount what happened. If you know it already, you don't need to hear it again. If you haven't heard about them, you have your reasons and you probably don't need to hear about them. Sometimes I take media breaks. Times like this I wish I was in an anti-news phase; but I'm not.

What I'm heartened to see is that some people are reaching out.

Not everyone is asking why or whose fault is it or where is the next threat or "event" coming from.

I am happy to see people saying, "hey, if you're hurting and need help, call me" or "are you okay" or "I just need to cry and need a quiet space" or even, "honey, I'm running a little late, I should be home shortly" (when maybe they'd just let it slide this time, again).

Two of the major incidents involved guns; there was a one-on-one incident locally which involved a gun, too. But the third major incident did not involve a gun.

I'm not meaning to open a debate on gun control laws. That is not my point. I see both sides of that issue throwing blame on the other side and proclaiming their own viewpoint right and as the solution.

I do believe that one factor is our lack of connection to each other, to our community, even to our true selves. Which is putting it too simply and doesn't really begin to address the issue. But that is the kernel of this truth.

Blame the parents. Blame the teachers. Blame the father or the brother or "the system." Blame the lack of mental health care or of health care in general. Blame lack of individual responsibility or over-working or economy or the belief that the world as we know it is ending in a week. Politics? The military? Video games? Cartoons?

Whatever. Some of those things are probably contributing factors in one or more of these tragedies.

My feelings about these events are bigger than my words to explain what I feel right now.

Except that I think we need to reach out to each other. To check in just because. To ask, "how are you?" To say "I love you" or "I care" or "I'm here for you." Or maybe even, "how can I help you?'

I know. There are things which need fixing. But it's easier if we see each other as travelers in this shared world and if we find ways to work together instead of always arguing about who's right and who's wrong.

Look around. The world isn't black and white. It's made up of many colors and shapes and sizes.


Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Creativity when the World Outside Feels Crazy

I realize that there are wars around the world. There are people who kidnap and kill and maim and torture on, probably, every day of the year, somewhere. Or nature releases another "event" which floods or carries away or explodes property and people and land. And I don't mean to say that it is only when terrible things happen near home that I notice. That is not true.

What is true is that sometimes, when horrible things happen and it's near home, I feel it at a different level or in a different way. Or I am struck with a renewed realization of the tentativeness of life, of the random possibility of something or someone outside disrupting life.

Whether it is grief I feel for completely unknown people in other countries or the knowledge, again, that the victim of a recent incident could have been a friend or neighbor or partner of someone I know - the feelings are powerful.

Yesterday there was a shooting at the Clackamas Town Center mall, which is a few miles from home. It is far enough away that I didn't feel my physical home nor neighborhood were in danger - and I was several miles in the opposite direction when I heard the news.

The shooting was one of the random acts. Because the shooter is dead, I don't suppose we'll ever know the real reasons. There will be speculation and guesses and experts putting together the pieces, trying to make sense of why two people were killed, another nearly killed (she is expected to survive, I read this morning), and unknown numbers hurts. The mall is closed today and people have important possessions left behind in the mall when it started and the police department assured people there will be a process for them to get back their belongings: baby strollers, medications, purses, purchases, and so on. But - unless the shooter left a note explaining everything, we will never know, really. And even with a note, there is probably more hidden away in his now dead brain.

A random act. People dead. More people hurt. Many more afraid and asking "why?"

Family and friends and employers/employees checking on each other. Police visibility is increased at all of the malls/major shopping areas now.

And this incident a couple of days after an 11-year-old boy and a 7-year-old boy with a loaded gun tried to rob a woman in a pickup truck. The boys were initially returned to their parents. Why? One of them immediately ran away but was chased down and again returned to his parents. Again, why? Then the following day the boy was taken into protective custody and the father arrested. Okay.

And more. I'm not going to recount the stories in the news which have impacted me in this last week. After yesterday's situation at the mall, and when the police said the shooter had been "neutralized" - which also bothered me, just tell us he's dead or in custody or something, but "neutralized"?, c'mon - I had to talk to my partner. Not because I thought she was in danger or hurt, but just because I wanted to hear her voice, to talk, to say, wow. Random.

In thinking about this further, I realized that how we can get through these things - whether it's these types of incidents at or near home, or in a country we've never touched - is to connect and to create. It's good that we have feelings and react - in appropriate ways. And using the power of the emotions to create is one way.

I also wanted to update the contact improvisation link in the sidebar. The one I have has been there a while and it's time for a new one.

In my search for a new video, I found this. Even if all you do is watch the opening dance improvisation part and skip the TedTalk, I hope it at least gives you a smile. I enjoyed watching the dance and listening to the giggles. And I enjoyed the talk, as well, it's a wonderful description of contact improvisation dance, with a demonstration at the end, as well.

Connection. Creative flow. Being present and in the moment. These are the things we need to write or dance or paint - for any creative endeavor. For getting through the emotional times.


Monday, December 10, 2012

NaNoWriMo 2012 Stats

The Office of Letters and Light released some of the NaNoWriMo stats for this year.

Amazing! Look at those numbers.

For NaNoWriMo main:

•341,375 participants, up a whopping 33% from 2011’s total of 256,618 writers.
•We wrote a grand total of 3,288,976,325 words, up 7% from 2011’s 3,074,068,446.
•This averaged out to 9364 words per person!
•We had 38,438 winners, giving us a 11% win rate!

For NaNoWriMo’s Young Writers Program: 
•97,864 participants, up 21% from 2011’s total of 81,040. (Edited to correct an error in numbers!)
•We wrote a total of 419,152,844 words up 14% from 2011’s collective word count of 368,143,078.
•This averaged out to 5,077 words per person.
•We had 18,531 winners, giving us a 22% win rate!

This November, we also had 37,120,542 pageviews, and a total of 5,939,711 visits: up 10% from 2011’s 5,384,040 visits!

Top 50 NaNoWriMo Cities (according to Google Analytics, based on number of November visits from these fine places)

.London 118,030
2.New York 90,055
3.(not set) 72,912

4.Seattle 58,670

5.Toronto 52,686

6.Sydney 51,498

7.Chicago 49,290

8.Melbourne 44,689

9.Los Angeles 43,511

10.Denver 41,574

11.Portland 36,905

12.San Francisco 35,593

13.Brisbane 32,118

14.Washington 31,301

15.Houston 27,971

Saturday, December 8, 2012

One-Day Writing Conference in Portland on 1/26/13

I have been looking forward to this conference. I've held the day in my schedule even before I didn't have all of the details. The only thing I knew was that it is put on my Jessica Morrell, a local author and editor whose workshops I've attended a couple of times at Willamette Writers Conferences. (She has another workshop I'm looking forward to being able to take someday when my schedule doesn't conflict with when it is scheduled; still keeping my eyes on when the next session for that editing workshop.) I also knew that Lidia Yuknavitch was the keynote speaker.

But that was all I knew.

I received the information today and - wow - I am going. Just waiting for the final registration instructions and how to pay and I will be there.

Click on the Workshops/Classes page above to see the schedule and more information.

This looks so good that I know I made the right decision a couple of months ago to hold the date.


Making it in Changing Times
A One-Day Writing Conference
January 26th, Portland, Oregon
The accelerating change and innovation in the publishing industry today is dizzying, and the pace can be overwhelming. But this change/forward/fast environment is also ripe with opportunity for those who embrace it and learn to adapt and innovate. Find answers and valuable insights at a practical, one-day conference filled with just the information that you need to propel your writing career to the next level and muscle your way to publication.  
Times: 8:30-5:30
Location: Tabor Space, 5441 S.E. Belmont, Portland, Oregon
Keynote by Lidia Yuknavitch The Worth of Risk.
An Editor’s Wish List, Jessica Morrell 
Kick Start Your Writing in 2013, Gigi Rosenberg
10 Signs You’re Telling, not Showing, Jessica Morrell;
Unraveling the World of Amazon PublishingDeborah Reed
Immersed in Books: Building Your Literary Life Kevin Sampsell
Q & A: Risk It To Get Published with Jessica Morrell, Deborah Reed, Kevin Sampsell

View the full schedule at:

 Cost: $99 includes continental breakfast and lunch(Refund given in case of cancellation due to weather) 
(For registration information, see the Workshops/Classes page above; or go to Jessica's website by following the schedule link.)

"You don't want to miss this event. Seriously."

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The Power of Music - of The Arts

I was driving from the pool to work today, listening to NPR. There was a rerun of a story I heard driving home after work last night, and then a new program came on. Traffic was heavy on I-84 so my focus shifted to the road and away from the story, though I caught pieces of it.

When I merged onto I-5 South, I had a couple of miles until the next bottleneck in my journey and tuned in to the story again. Part of the problem is that I couldn't quite catch where they were talking about on the radio.

But I did catch that they were talking about music being banned. It had started as a ban on "satanic" music, meaning any type of music which conflicted with their Islamic beliefs (meaning from the government's view), which soon became any type of music in this country whose name I didn't know.

The name of the country or of a group was mentioned, finally, just as I hit the second congested part of my drive, where I have to make a crazy jog from I-5 South onto I-405 North for a few feet and then this weird overpass onramp to Highway 26 West. It doesn't matter the time of day, there is always some type of backup or traffic interference there, and there was a minimal slow down. So when the country was mentioned, and it wasn't one I was familiar with so I didn't quite catch it, it slipped away.

But when I was safely on 26 and in the lane I wanted I could focus, again. And I caught the end of the story with a festival organizer talking about the life of musicians in this country.

He talked about them having to hide their instruments. If they wanted to play music they had to do it very, very quietly with all drapes and windows closed and no neighbors home; and even that was extremely risky. Even mobile phone ringtones were banned, and of course any type of music players - digital or otherwise.

I was thinking about this and at the same time I was thinking about the people who doubt the power of music. Or of any of the arts. And here was a government who thinks that the music is so powerful that it will corrupt an entire country so they've banned it all.

Music - and art, writing, dance, theater, creativity - heals. It teaches. It gives us cause for and enhances celebration. It calms us and excites us and eases our fears. It puts us to sleep and it wakes us up. Creativity gives us purpose and goals and reasons to keep on, well, keeping on. Music and writing and all types of creative activity help us explore and express our experiences.


I was able to find the country with the total music ban: Mali. Click on the picturesk and the one headline, of Mali musicians below to read some articles about this situation. And, yes, I know there are other places where music and writing and art have been banned. But this is what I learned today. And it struck me as powerful and as something more to explore.

cool planet. on the line.

militants declare war on music
about muscian, Keletigui Diabate

... and a video of Mali music to listen to. Beautiful. ..


Monday, December 3, 2012

Theatrical Interpreting Preparation Series is Under Way

I met with the participants in the first Theatrical Interpreting Preparation Series workshop on Saturday, December 1st. It's a diverse and wonderful group of interpreters and I'm looking forward to our time together over the next four months.

This coming Thursday they will be attending "A Midsummer Night's Dream" at PCS. I didn't give them a lot of homework, but a few things to look for which relate to our meeting on Saturday while they're watching the play. Then when we meet again in two weeks we will talk about those observations and wrap up that topic and begin the next one.

I've rented a conference room at The Armory from Portland Center Stage and it's nice to be in a theatrical setting for this workshop. The room is comfortable and access is easy for pretty much whatever we need.

This is a great group for my first run of the theatrical interpreting workshops I have planned.

Don't worry if you missed it this round - I will be doing it again next season. And I have other performance interpreting workshops in the development process, as well.

For now - a lovely first gathering!


In other news, I wrote another blog post go out for Portland Center Stage and it went out last Friday - posted by the amazing Katie O. You can read the post by clicking on my Bard collage below (I had fun making this digital collage for the post).

"Interpreting the Bard" by Dot Hearn


Saturday, December 1, 2012

I am ...

... an official NaNoWriMo Winner! Yes, indeed, I wrote over 50k in 30 days.

Five for Five (five consecutive attempts = five consecutive wins) 


My 2012 NaNoWriMo word count calendar. And I'm not worried about all the red squares at the end; I'd already passed 50k and wasn't updating my word count.