Thornton Wilder’s Our Town Teaches You to Appreciate Life

Recently, I re-read Thornton Wilder‘s Our Town. I read this play when I was in high school. But like most teenagers, I never really paid attention to it. I rediscovered Our Town by watching an episode of My So Called Life on Netflix. Rayanne, Angela Chase‘s party animal of a friend, tries out for their high school production of Our Town and is cast as Emily and delivers a remarkable performance. It was a tear-jerker.

Synopsis of Our Town

Our Town is introduced and narrated by the Stage Manager who welcomes the audience to the fictitious town of Grover’s Corner, New Hampshire on a May morning in 1901. The stage is sparse and the Stage Manager introduces the characters; they pantomime their activities and chores throughout the play. The ‘big event’ of George Gibbs and Emily Webbs wedding happens in Act II. The ‘bigger event’ of Emily’s death in childbirth happens in Act III. The audience sees the town gathered in the cemetery for Emily’s funeral. They also see the deceased residents of Grover’s Corners at the funeral who try to warn Emily not to go back and observe her childhood. Emily realizes they were right after she sees her and her family and how they really weren’t ‘present’ in each other’s lives.

What Our Town Can Teach You about Life

It’s in Act III where Emily realizes that the residents of Grover’s Corner don’t realize life while living it. They hurry through their days without noticing what’s happening around them; they brush-off their children because they’re too busy preparing meals or cleaning. They don’t stop to savor their food and drink, clothing, sleeping, etc. They won’t know how much they missed until they die and then it will be too late.

Today, most people waste time in various ways from being couch potatoes to hurrying about from one place to the other. They play video games instead of getting outside in the sunshine and exercising. They waste time worrying about this and that; they waste time being lazy. To quote Simon Stimson, “they move about in a cloud of ignorance; to go up and down trampling on the feelings of those … of those about you. To spend and waste time as though you had a million of years.” I couldn’t have said it better.

Our Town may have been published in 1938, but its message is applicable today. If people don’t realize what a precious gift life is, they’ll have regrets on their deathbed. They’ll have wished they did this or that; wished they would have taken more risks; wished they would have taken a job opportunity in another state or country; and so forth. Don’t allow this to happen to you! Pickup a copy of Our Town and learn from the people in Grover’s Corners. Allow Emily’s spirit to teach you that life is in the here and now. Once it’s gone, that’s it. There’s no coming back and rejoining the human race.

Amandah

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Interview with Farouk Radwan of 2 Know Myself — Part II

Here’s Part II of my interview with Farouk Radwan, owner of 2 Know Myself.com, a website that offers visitors practical solutions to most life problems.

About Farouk

Farouk Radwan is the founder of 2knowmyself.com, the one who wrote all the 2000+ articles found on the website and the author of all 2knwomyself.com’s books.

He’s a motivational speaker and trainer, he is studying psychology since he was 17, in addition he is the owner of the company Empowerment (based in Egypt) which is specialized in delivering personal development courses to individuals and corporations.

Learn more about Farouk Radwan at 2 Know Myself.com.

Interview Questions

1. I noticed the article category titled “Attraction Psychology.” What is it? How does it work? 

All research findings have shown that attraction, like any other process, is governed by rules. If someone managed to know these rules then certainly he will be able to use them to attract others to him.

The Attraction psychology section in the site attempts to explain how attraction works. It also contains practical advice that can help people attract friends or even lovers to them.

2. The book How to make someone fall in love with you (Based on the psychology of falling in love) sounds intriguing. If someone doesn’t want to fall in love with you, how healthy is it to make someone fall in love with you? How effective is it for long-term relationships? If someone brain washes another into falling in love with them; wouldn’t the relationship be considered fake or false? What happens when ‘reality’ sets in? 

People always ask me that question because it touches an important ethical point. Any kind of knowledge can either be used in a good way or a bad way. For example, if you really love someone then you will have to change personality in order to appeal to him instead of fooling him just to let him believe that you are the one he is looking for.

The previous advice covers half of the techniques in the book. The second important point is that sometimes the main reason people fail to attract others is that they do behavioral mistakes. By changing their behavior permanently in such a way that makes them more attractive they will manage to attract the person they love and they won’t be fooling anybody.

3. What do you hope visitors gain from visiting to 2 Know Myself? 

I really wish to make people live better lives. If someone was feeling really bad, and I managed to life his mood even a little bit then I will feel really happy.

I want people to learn how to deal with their emotional problems so that they can live happier lives.

4. What is your personal philosophy?

Life is like a battle, only those carrying swords cut their way through.

In other words, life is not simple. It was not designed for the lazy or for the coward. If you want to reach what you want in life then you must be brave and start fighting back.

5. Anything you’d like to add? 

Well it’s not about me but it’s about you. I think your blog, MisticCafe.com is really helping people as well and that’s why it caught my attention. I am really happy that I got this chance to know you. Just keep up the good work. 🙂

I’d like to thank Farouk for his interview. I found his website to be very useful and refreshing because it offers practical solutions to life’s problems. I love science and like how Farouk ties in psychology and science within his materials.  ~ Amandah

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Interview with Farouk Radwan of 2 Know Myself — Part I

Here’s Part I of my interview with Farouk Radwan, owner of 2 Know Myself.com, a website that offers visitors practical solutions to most life problems

About Farouk

Farouk Radwan is the founder of 2knowmyself.com, the one who wrote all the 2000+ articles found on the website and the author of all 2knwomyself.com’s books.

He’s a motivational speaker and trainer, he is studying psychology since he was 17, in addition he is the owner of the company Empowerment (based in Egypt) which is specialized in delivering personal development courses to individuals and corporations.

Learn more about Farouk Radwan at 2 Know Myself.

Interview Questions

1. What as the motivation behind creating 2 Know Myself? Why did you create the website?

I was passionate about psychology and after reading for years I felt that I have something to deliver to people through my writings. Honestly, I had the intention of making it an internet business since the first day I started.

2. What makes 2 Know Myself different from other personal development and or self-help websites? 

2knowmyself offers practical solutions to most life problems. You can hardly find an advice on 2knowmyself that is just based on a theory or my personal analysis, but instead you will only find practical advice that is backed by research findings and real life experiments.

2A. What do you think of the ‘new age’ movement in the 21st century? Can people really transform their lives by reading popular books like The Secret and others like it? Is it that easy to ‘think a thought’ and change your life? Or, is there actually work involved? 

Of course, I believe people can dramatically change their lives through books and personal development. However, when it comes to The Secret I strongly believe that positive thinking that is not backed by hard work and real life actions will not lead anywhere. Let’s suppose a person wants to lose weight, if he lied in bed and started imagining his ideal body he will only gain more weight unless he starts moving!

So … positive thinking, optimism and all of these factors can help the person who takes actions and not the one who lies in bed waiting for miracles to happen.

3. What is NLP and how can it help people change their lives for the better? 

NLP in fact is not a new science; it’s just a collection of information that was already available before in the form of complex psychological principles. The people who came up with NLP simplified this complex information into simple techniques in such a way that allowed the average person to apply them and make impressive changes to his life.

4. What would say is the “Number 1” obstacle in peoples’ lives? How can people overcome the obstacles in their lives?

False beliefs! A human being can do whatever he believes he can do, that is the only weak point in the chain is his own belief system. Let’s suppose that I had to lift a heavy object in order to keep moving in the same direction. If I was a very powerful man but believed that I am weak, I will never try to lift the weight that is standing in my way and will become helpless.

In short, without false beliefs you can do miracles.

This concludes Part I of my interview with Farouk. Part II of my interview with Farouk will post tomorrow.

I’d like to thank Farouk for his interview. I found his website to be very useful and refreshing because it offers practical solutions to life’s problems. I love science and like how Farouk ties in psychology and science within his materials.  ~ Amandah

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A Lesson in Self-Sabotage from ANTM’s Angelea

I’m a fan of Tyra Banks and America’s Next Top Model. I can’t believe it’s been 17 seasons already. My favorites from this season were Allison, Laura, Lisa, Dominique, Kayla, and Angelea. Unfortunately, the latter self-sabotaged her and was disqualified from ANTM. According to online sources, she was disqualified for ‘tweeting’ and posting ‘spoiler alerts’ on her Facebook page. Another speculation is that she was pregnant. Others are saying she was crowned the winner but posted it before ANTM’s finale aired. Who knows what the ‘truth’ is? Quite frankly, it doesn’t matter. Angelea, the girl from Buffalo, NY, who’s desperately trying to put her past behind her and cultivate a better life, seems to self-sabotage herself. In fact, Lisa predicted it. She said, “I don’t think Angelea’s ready for this.” I think she’s right.

I was rooting for Angelea because I felt her pain and understood where she was coming from. However, Ms. Preston would probably benefit from therapy and life coaching if she really wants to move forward and succeed in life. I believe if she would face her ‘inner demons’ head on, she’d be able to see her family’s pathology, heal from it, and move forward in a new direction that’s right for her. If she continues to ignore the ‘self-sabotaging’ signs, she’ll continue to repeat self-sabotaging behaviors and patterns until she learns from them. Speaking from experience, I advise her to face herself in the mirror and heal her life.

I give Lisa props because she was very honest about the abuse she suffered in her life. She had the courage to seek therapy and continues to heal herself. Angelea would benefit from staying in contact with Lisa who could help her work through the issues in her life. It will take great courage on Angelea’s part to reach out and ask for help. Again, speaking from experience, I know this isn’t easy. But it can be done and people are willing to help, if you let them.

I wish Angelea the best in life; whether or not she’s a success is up to her. If she’s serious about being an All-Star, it would behoove her to find a good therapist and life coach who could help her process her life experiences so she can learn from them. She could take her knowledge and experience to help other girls who’ve been in her shoes so they too can heal and move forward in their lives. Good can come from Angelea’s disqualification but it’s up to her to recognize it.

Amandah

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Interview with Vanessa Lee from Smile Inside

The following is an interview with Vanessa Lee, owner of Smile Inside, a personal development organization that advocates for the wellbeing and personal development of youth.

Vanessa Lee graduated with a Bachelor’s of Science in Education from Ohio University and was selected for an advanced program that provided extensive experience and training in innovative methods of teaching. She has over 300 hours of professional development along with additional training that has contributed to her knowledge in the field of personal development. 

Ms. Lee developed and co-facilitated a mentoring program and developed and facilitated a grade 7 girls program at Debney Park Secondary College. She also worked with students and groups at The Grange Primary, Newport Gardens Primary, and Derrimut Primary and continued working for Mackillop Family Services on a freelance basis with individuals on social, emotional, and academic levels.

Vanessa’s experiences inspired her to develop and provide resources for professionals who work with youth as well as for parents and their children ages 5-12. Visit Smile Inside to learn more. 

Interview Questions

 1. How did you come up with the idea for Smile Inside? What was the inspiration for it? 

I started out teaching in Kansas City, Missouri and saw how social problems affected families which had an impact on learning in the classroom. I wanted to contribute to the world and thought if young people had all the tools they needed to deal with life then the social problems wouldn’t be so bad, families wouldn’t fall apart as much, and kids would embrace learning and follow their dreams. I believed that an ideal way to do this is through education in schools, but was disappointed when I learned over the years that the things I thought should be considered priorities were shoved to the side to make way for test preparation. How can a child be expected to learn if they are struggling emotionally? Another huge hindrance is that teachers just don’t have enough time, support or resources to manage to the best of their ability.

I was really inspired by the courses and camps that taught me about myself and made such a huge difference in my life in middle school and high school. I was disappointed to learn that these sorts of experiences weren’t accessible to everyone and that it just wasn’t a priority in the school curriculum. I feel it is in everyone’s best interest to have access to these types of programs and activities.

Smile Inside is about advocating for personal development in schools and providing the services and resources that schools’ and those who work with youth deserve and need.

2. What do you think about the increase in bullying among today’s youth? Does Smile Inside educate youth about bullying? What about educating parents and educators about the short and long term effects of bullying? How can bullying be avoided in the future?

I find bullying heartbreaking, especially among young people. I was a student welfare coordinator in a 7-12 high school in Australia for 3 years (similar to a counselor) which gave me a greater insight on how bullying affects lives. Victims need support and coping strategies which is a part of Smile Inside’s method, but this is only a band-aid approach. There is a disturbing lack of empathy in bullies, but there are also emotional issues which cause their behavior. One of my intentions in developing the Smile Inside programs and resources was to eliminate bullying behaviors. There are a number of reasons why bullies act out and they, along with everyone else, can benefit from support, guidance and positive attention. Some of the activities emphasize that everyone deserves respect by focusing on the development of empathy. Participants are also given the opportunity to express themselves, explore their self-talk, and learn coping skills. Other activities give individuals the confidence they need to battle insecurity which is often a cause of bullying.

I would hope that all parents and educators understand the importance of dealing with the bullying issue, but this is not always the case. In schools, most teachers do their best to stamp it out but again, lack of time, support and resources work against them. Parents sometimes get involved but they can go about it in the wrong way. Smile Inside’s main aim is to educate youth, but the anti-bullying strategies are communicated to teachers, and parents in most cases.

I think a reasonable way to abolish bullying is through focused detection and intervention efforts using a Restorative Justice approach. I also think a prevention/intervention effort using a “heal the bully” approach is effective. These kids are hurting so much on the inside that causing others suffering is one way they cope with what’s going on internally. One activity I do with youth is called, “The Problem with Villains”. It gets participants working out how to rationalize bullies’ behaviors and brainstorming solutions to solve the problem in a group situation where bullies are present, but not targeted. Once bullies realize their behavior may be coming from a problem in their life they are more likely to soften and be open to help and healing. This indirect approach is more effective than the confrontational, negative attention they receive when they ‘get in trouble.’ Schools need more support and resources to tackle this issue properly. This could be done with more government funding and by creating strong partnerships with organizations that specialize in this area.

3. According to the website, “Smile Inside trains Educators, Student Welfare Coordinators, Youth Workers, Camp Counselors, Secondary School Nurses, and Chaplains to increase their effectiveness when working with groups of youth via peer observation.” What benefits have youth received as a result from Smile Inside working with people in the above fields?

Professional development is a never-ending process to become the best we can be in our field. Gaining inspiration and new ideas from fresh approaches helps these professionals to hone their skills and try new things. The youth benefit because the ones they trust are enhancing the style of their interactions with them. A new tactic just may work with a child who before, they had problems reaching.

4. How does Smile Inside help young people be true to themselves when parents, peers, society, etc. want them to be something they’re not? 

The Smile Inside philosophy maintains that an individual with an authentic sense of self, social skills, and resilience will be well-equipped to face life’s challenges and find success in all aspects of life. In other words, if they know and feel confident in who they are, they can remain true to their convictions and stand up to adversity when it comes their way whether that be in the form of a parent, a peer or an employer.

The soon to be independently-published resource, Smile Inside: Experiential Activities for Self-Awareness, Ages 14-15 specifically gives youth the space to develop their sense of self. It helps them to explore their mind, needs, values, morals, perception of self, emotions, abilities, interactions with others and interests through activities, reflection, and discussion.

5. Is it easier for youths to master their behaviors and minds versus adults? What can adults learn from today’s youth in this area?

This is a difficult question to answer as everyone is unique. I am not so sure that age is a factor; some are more ready than others depending on many conditions. I do believe if young people are given access to techniques that will support their ability to master their behaviors and minds they have a definite advantage in succeeding in life.

Adults can learn so much in all areas from youth if they are willing to listen. Young people have a lot to offer and there is much to gain from their perspective. As far as learning to slow down, focus and follow our hearts, let’s hope we can be inspired by whoever is doing so, child, teen or adult.

6. What is your ‘personal philosophy’ for life? 

Love, peace, and happiness. 🙂

7. Anything you’d like to add? 

I am very excited to finally be publishing two resources that I have been working on since the age of 14. I have been collecting all the activities that have made a positive impact on me and have been testing, revising and creating even more since. They are in the form of handbooks for those who work with youth titled, Smile Inside: Experiential Activities for Self-Awareness Ages 12-14 and Smile Inside: Experiential Activities for Self-Awareness Ages 14-15. I am also in the process of trialing a resource for parents which is a positive reinforcement system for children, ages 5-12.

How Can Vanessa Lee and Smile Inside Help?

I’m a kid coach: In primary schools I get to see them in action in the classroom and work with them in and outside of the classroom on academics, social skills and self awareness. In the past, I have also worked with middle school aged students in relatively the same manner. At the present, I am also being contracted to work with individuals, mostly young people who are having academic, social, and emotional difficulties. Quite a few of them are in foster care or residential units.

Counseling: When I work one-on-one with young people in an academic setting whether it be at a school or private tutoring, I find that part of the job is counseling. I like to empower young people with skills that help them become who they truly want to be. If their goal is negative, I strive to steer them towards a more positive outcome through a variety of methods. Having individuals looking at their physical, mental, emotional and spiritual (if appropriate) levels of self is a wonderful base to help them realize their potential.

Meditation and Yoga: I trained as a yoga instructor and I use what I have learned to help others. Silencing the mind, using a mantra to focus, slowing the breath, creative visualization and using balancing poses to focus are all techniques that I incorporate into helping youth to learn self-awareness.

Visit Smile Inside to learn more about Vanessa Lee and her organization.

Amandah

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What’s the Point of Life?

A very ‘short anecdote’ based on the 10 random words from Writing Prompts – Creative Copy Challenge #194. Posted: 17 Nov 2011 08:02 AM PST

Put
Point
Bizarre
Weave
Spiral
Weird
Goofy
Pop
Cult
Fan

“Oh what a tangled web we weave,
When first we practise to deceive!”
~ Sir Walter Scott

Melanny pondered Sir Walter Scott’s words as she gazed at the ocean from the deck of her Malibu home. She’s been contemplating life since her childhood best friend Karrey overdosed a few weeks ago. Melanny tried to help her, but she couldn’t. No one could. Life really is a spiral. We think we move backward, when in fact, we continue to move forward. How bizarre is that? What is the point of life? She continued to stare at the ocean.

Karrey had a goofy, weird sense of humor – some people thought she was over the top. She loved The Cult and was a huge fan of music from the 1990s. Karrey loved alternative music but would listen to Pop music now and again. She was a free spirit through and through. Why did she have to put those damn drugs into her body? Melanny was searching for answers that may never be answered.

Amandah T. Blackwell

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Embrace Life

A poem based on Writing Prompts – Creative Copy Challenge #193. Posted: 14 Nov 2011 07:40 AM PST

Gentle
Sweat
Guide
Design
Simple
Full
Borrow
Trace
Technique
Flip

Life is simple and you get to design it all,
Be gentle with yourself as try to live up to your full potential.
Borrow from great thought leaders such as Napoleon Hill,
And guide your thoughts to those things that bring you joy.

Can you trace the web of your life to your present situation?
Use a technique such as meditation to quiet your mind and listen to the stillness within.
Flip off the All Negative Channel playing in your head every day,
Sweat no more that you’re not good enough – you are good enough.

Amandah T. Blackwell

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What Are You Waiting For?

A ‘short story’ based on Writing Prompts – Creative Copy Challenge #192. Posted: 10 Nov 2011 06:58 AM PST

Look deep within and ask, “Am I happy or am I pretending?” It’s time to take a stand and leave the past in the past. Make each day count and give yourself a break because life doesn’t come with an instruction manual. Promise yourself that you won’t allow your life to fade away. You can run, but you can’t hide. Sooner or later, you’ll have to face your life lessons. You may as well learn what you have to learn in order to move forward.

Amandah T. Blackwell

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The Clearing

A short story based on Writing Prompts – Creative Copy Challenge #182
Posted: 06 Oct 2011 04:18 AM PDT

  1. Exacting – Making severe demands; rigorous: an exacting instructor; Requiring great care, effort, or attention: an exacting task
  2. Libation – The pouring of a liquid offering as a religious ritual; The liquid so poured. ; Informal. A beverage, especially an intoxicating beverage
  3. Masturbatory – If I need to explain this…
  4. Lozenge
  5. Gargle
  6. Sumptuous – Of a size or splendor suggesting great expense; lavish
  7. Degraded
  8. Cardamom – A rhizomatous Indian herb (Elettaria cardamomum) having capsular fruits with aromatic seeds used as a spice or condiment.
  9. Nefarious – Infamous by way of being extremely wicked.
  10. Syncopated – stressing a normally weak beat

The libation flowed over her body and cleansed her of the slimy energy she picked up throughout the day. She even created her own gargle and lozenge to clean her mouth of any nefarious words she spoke; they usually weren’t hers.

She made a sumptuous vegetarian meal seasoned with cardamom; she liked to eat as cleanly as possible. Eating degraded meats was out of the question for her. But no one in her family understood this. The way they eat meat seemed like a masturbatory experience. To each their own.

She didn’t make exacting demands over the people the around her. What gave them the right to do that to her? She gave them the right by not setting strong boundaries. Her syncopated life needed resuscitating. Otherwise, it would be over. And it would be too late for her to live the life she was meant to live.

Amandah T. Blackwell

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Clearing Out the Albatrosses of Your Life

Short story based on Writing Prompts – Creative Copy Challenge #185
Posted: 17 Oct 2011 06:07 AM PDT

  • Loquacious – talking or tending to talk much or freely; talkative; chattering; babbling; garrulous
  • Sedentary
  • Artistic
  • Voracious
  • Fluorescent
  • Rad
  • Delicious
  • Rotund – round in shape; rounded: ripe, rotund fruit
  • Decapitate
  • Slimy

The loquacious people in her life are sedentary when it comes to cleaning up and taking responsibility for their lives. She, on the other hand, is artistic and rad.

Their slimy energy engulfs her; it’s like they have a voracious appetite for destroying her spirit. They’d like to decapitate her because they can’t stand how delicious her life is.

Their rotund faces are nothing more than masks hiding their anger, frustration and pain. Their happiness is artificial like fluorescent lights. Luckily, she knows how to clean her energy. She won’t be sucked into their drama.

Amandah T. Blackwell

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