Hypnosis in Prague

22 02 2018

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Nervous and excited, I waited in the airport for my second overseas trip of my life. Just 2 months earlier, I had my first foray into Europe. The taste of travel lingered on my lips, a pure, crystalline addiction so sweet that I instantly craved for more.

 

Before I knew it, I was granted a scholarship to study abroad for the summer, packing up my apartment, and fervently studying a Berlitz Czech language book. One year earlier, I didn’t even know what country Prague resided in.

 

Together with just over a dozen others, I landed in this strange city with smoke-filled accents and endlessly winding city streets that left me dazed and disoriented. Four of us shared an apartment up on the hillside, a short walk from the zoo. It was a quiet neighborhood, with a small corner grocery store and a large open green space close by. The ‘Letenska Plan’ park used to be home to a giant statue of Stalin’s head staring down at the city, but by the time I arrived his head had exploded and been replaced with a massive metronome sculpture. I quickly learned to stifle my awe at the seemingly mile-deep escalator to get to my metro stop, ‘Hradcanska.’ I fumbled to understand why I was the only one standing bag-less at the grocery store checkout, grateful for the stranger who pitied my naivety and gave me one of her bags. I taught myself how to order “voda bez bubbly” in order to get free tap water.

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In short order, my routine afforded me a quick familiarity with the city of Praha. I checked off the touristy things, like the 1400s era ‘Karlov Most’ (Charles Bridge), and dining in a below-grade, brick-arched cellar restaurant. I began to easily orient myself on crooked streets by the landmarks and proximity to the town square. I didn’t need a map most of the time, though I always kept one in my satchel just in case. We didn’t have cell phones yet, and I relied 100% on my rudimentary Czech language skills and the kindness of strangers.

One afternoon I was preparing to go into studio to work on my design project. I needed to sketch out a few more ideas before I could start building my model, so I decided to take advantage of the beautiful sunny weather and go sit at a park bench along a small riverside stretch of green. I stared out at the gently moving water, listening to the birds, with the murmurs of Czech-speaking crowds a fuzzy distance away, filtered by my English ears. I pulled out my sketchbook and pencils and began to draw the scenery before me. I felt so connected to this place, which inspired my artistic side. Dappled sunlight filtered through the trees and kissed my bare shoulders. I felt like my heart was bursting with joy and an unimaginable sense of contentment.

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After a little while, I sensed someone observing me. A young man in his twenties stepped closer and smiled. “You seem so at peace,” he beamed at me. I was caught of guard, but replied, “Oh? Yes, well it’s a gorgeous day!” He asked me about my artwork, and sat down at the other end of the bench to get a closer look. He seemed nice enough, asking innocent questions, and sharing a joyful attitude.

 

Then it got weird. He started cooing about how “pure” my soul was, about how he could see into it through my eyes. The creepiest part though, was not that I felt like I was being hit on, it was that I FELT like he was actually seeing inside my soul! Without my permission, yet without any physical contact, I felt completely violated. My head felt suddenly dizzy, buzzing with strange thoughts, like, maybe I was being hypnotized?!? Was I about to be abducted into a cult? I had no idea what was happening, but it freaked me out in a way I had never felt before.

 

While this man had technically done nothing illegal, I stammered an excuse about needing to get to class, and hastily left. Was I overreacting? What just happened? All I knew was that my eyes were streaming tears the entire way back to my studio, and my sobbing left me struggling to breathe. I had no idea why I felt so scared. I took a few minutes, back against a cold brick wall, to try to calm myself before entering our building. With bloodshot eyes, I tried to explain it to my female classmates, who comforted me, though I don’t really know what they thought of my story. I still don’t know what that was, but it certainly left an impact on me, all these years later.

 

You don’t have to have a reason. You don’t have to wait for something bad to happen. No matter what, always listen to your gut instincts. I hope that all women will learn to trust themselves more than some external logic when it comes to their own sense of safety.

 

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“The Perigee of Two Souls”

18 02 2018

atom-electronsLike a flame licking towards a shuddering moth
you drew me in when we first met.
I kept my distance safely near,
wise to the gravity surrounding the sun.

Our paths must have crossed a dozen times
at the apogee of our separate rotations,
but one day, at our perigee,
we grazed close, and our souls collided.

We expanded like the birth of a star
into a whirlwind of rotating energy,
thrust together in a blissful chaos
more potent than physicists theorized.

Eons of energy, immense and powerful,
fuels our passion, drifting down like glitter
as it slowly settles into rhythms,
like our ever-expanding love.

~krw~

3.15.11

Hubble view of star-forming region S106





Thoughts and Prayers… Again

16 02 2018

I am so sick of this conversation. Every American is, I’m sure. But not nearly as disgusted and ill as the parents in Florida right now, or all the THOUSANDS of other victims and survivors of annual U.S. gun violence.

 

It’s never the right time. Someone is always grieving. But “Thoughts and prayers” are not enough. WE NEED TO SERIOUSLY HAVE A TALK.

 

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According to Gallup, in 2017 over 60% of Americans are dissatisfied with our federal gun laws, and believe they should be MORE strict. This is the highest it’s been since 2004. Yet our nation’s lawmakers are petrified of pissing off the deep pockets of the gun lobbyists, many of whom represent only the extreme minority of the otherwise rational, compassionate, law-abiding gun owners.

 

With two factions screaming at each other literally EVER time we have a massacre, nobody hears anything but the extreme rhetoric, refusing to listen to a calm conversation about how to improve our situation. This problem is not going away. In fact, it’s grown exponentially since 1966. 

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One thing is for certain, unless you think it’s okay for children and innocent adults to be murdered, then you agree that SOMETHING has to change. This is such a basic fact, there really should be nobody who disagrees. The disagreement comes when we start assuming HOW different groups of people think that the change should happen.

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Are there Americans who think guns should be outlawed, 2nd Amendment be damned? Sure. Are there Americans who think the government is trying to turn us all into slaves and we need an armed militia to protect our rights? Yup. There are extreme positions on both sides- can we agree on that? Awesome.

The number of Americans who were “against a law which would make it illegal to manufacture, sell, or possess semi-automatic guns known as assault rifles” dropped 11% from 2016 to 2017.

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The reality is, most Americans are actually very moderate in their views. Over 70% of Americans agree that citizens should be allowed to own handguns. It’s the lobbyists and far-flung wings of media that spread fear and paranoia by making you think that everyone is out to get you, and any attempt at a rational compromise is just a sneak attack to further their own secret agenda. This is simply not true. In fact, even gun owners are starting to realize that something needs to change.

 

Think about it. As Americans, we all agree in our foundation of freedom to pursue happiness and liberty. So, as long as nobody else gets hurt by your individual actions, in most cases we agree, to each their own. It’s when others get hurt that we start realizing that we need rules in place to protect the masses. This is why seat belts and speed limits were invented. This is why we have rules about operating a vehicle, including licensure and insurance and alcohol limits. This is why we have to take off our shoes at the airport. Nobody said, “All shoes should be banned at all airports.” No, that would be an overreaction. Is taking off your shoes an inconvenience? Sure, but it’s worth it to provide an increased sense of safety and security to the masses.

 

So why is it so difficult to say, “Let’s just brainstorm some ways to improve how we handle guns and ammunition?” If 24,000 married couples can manage to find enough compromise to get a legal divorce every single day, I think we collectively have the ability to sit down like rational human beings and hammer out some compromises on guns. Is every husband and wife 100% satisfied with how their divorce turns out? Hell no. But they find a balance that is fair and equitable, and protects the children. We simply need to put our society’s children first. 

 

A staggering 86% of Americans in 2015 reported that they support “a law which would require universal background checks for all gun purchases in the U.S. using a centralized database across all 50 states.”

 

Are the root causes of gun violence simple? Absolutely not. There are so many factors that go into this, just as there’s no single reason a couple chooses to get divorced. It all piles up in a burdensome heap, and eventually becomes too much to bear. It’s simply easier to escape than to stay. So why do we focus on the weapons themselves? These solutions are cheaper and easier to implement.

Let’s not forget about the other factors that need to be included in the bigger discussions on continuous improvement:

  • Weapons- Mass shootings would be less likely to occur at all, and have significantly fewer victims if they were fist fights, or knife fights, or even pistol fights instead of weapons capable of killing dozens at once.
  • Mental Health- nobody who commits murder is perfectly healthy. Yet we live in a society that focuses on punishment instead of treatment.
  • Gender- Almost all gun violence is perpetrated by men, and mass shootings are no exception. What can our society do to encourage men to resolve their issues with tools other than violence? What are we teaching boys about dealing with their emotions?
  • Security- Instead of focusing on the cause, some have focused on the responses by implementing new security measures at schools, churches, etc. While this helps calm those shaken by tragedy, will we ever reach a point when every single place is safe from an attacker?
  • Rights- Our forefathers believed in a right to bear arms. They used guns to hunt and for personal protection.  These guns were never capable of the rapid fire slaughtering of today’s weapons. Today many enjoy guns for the fun of shooting them at firing ranges, and 60% of gun owners have them for “personal protection.” How do we protect our rights to collect and fire guns safely?
  • Restrictions- In the past 50 years, the majority of weapons used in mass shootings were obtained legally. How can we make it so that it’s harder for people with evil intentions to obtain weapons and ammunition? Are the background checks good enough? Are there mental health loopholes that need to be patched?

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Clearly, this is not a problem that can be fixed in a day. We need a multi-pronged approach to truly solve this ongoing catastrophe. But that doesn’t mean that we can’t start SOMEWHERE.

 

Here’s just one idea of a basic compromise that could help:

How to save shooting victims

 

Remember, our country is strongest when it is UNITED in an effort to help society. Don’t immediately think you know what someone on the opposite side of an issue is going to say. Even if you disagree, respect their opinion enough to ask them “5 Whys.” This is a common part of root cause analysis. If you reserve your opinion long enough to genuinely be curious about how someone came to take their position, you might find a common core belief that you both share, and a true conversation can begin.

 

For those affected in this weeks massacre, I am so sorry for your loss. Nothing can bring them back. I only hope we can prevent others from suffering as you are now.

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“Master of Your Universe”

14 02 2018

Your energy shines bright,

lighting the path to your future

and illuminating those around you

so they can find their own way too.

Your wisdom is ancient,

like the light waves that traveled

from an unfamiliar reality

in a corner of the galaxy.

Your future is certain,

barreling into the unknown

with unstoppable force

that I gladly cling to.

~krw~

April 2014

two blackholes





“Dreaming”

13 02 2018

rainbow cloudKnowing I’m not dreaming
only lifts me higher
into the stratosphere
through soft cirrus wisps
like feathers against my skin.
The thin air electrifying,
my whole body tingling.
I remember to breathe,
and my body shudders
with amazement.
I know I’m not dreaming
because it is far better
than any dream I’ve ever imagined.

~krw~

3.25.10

rainbow cloud2





“The Blossom and the Bee” Poem

11 02 2018

bloom-1850224_960_720A morning blossom lies before me,
eyes closed to the light.
Her skin as soft as petals,
still tangled from the night.
Lashes brushed like feathers,
twitch like stamen in a breeze,
but when those blue eyes open
my heart is set at ease.
The morning light floods in;
the sky is in her eyes.
Her sleepy smile opens,
soft lips emitting sighs.
In a sea of gorgeous flora
her colors stand alone,
shimmering in brilliance,
the most amazing shade and tone.
Like a fuzzy bee, I bumble,
drawn to her helplessly.
Only once I’ve landed
do I finally fly free.

~krw~

4.27.10

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“Hidden Words”

9 02 2018

i hold my thoughts tightly.
poems on paper close to my chest.
soft confessions of fervent emotions,
reflecting the joys i find in you.

i protect these words as i do my own heart,
shielding them from cold winter winds,
sheltering them in spring rains,
waiting for the right time.

your kindness permeates my layers
and you see these hidden poems.
you bring the light to them
however deeply they reside.

in a still, sunny moment
i open them up to the light.
the dampness disappears,
leaving gentle waves of wrinkles.

as i loosen my timorous grip.
these words can finally breathe.
they flutter in the once cold breeze,
eager to take flight.

i smile as they drift away
dissolving into the horizon
safer than they ever were
hidden in my heart.

~krw~

1.21.10

hidden poem