Living in two seemingly disparate worlds, Philly local musician Ron Chelsvig is both a physical therapist and singer songwriter. Each provide benefit to the people he serves. His musical gifts are evident in the 2005 release Livin’ In A World. The Universe had a sense of humor, since the man who originally hails from Story City, Iowa indeed tells stories with his music. They are about love, loss and loneliness, hope and redemption and take the listener on a journey through various genres and stylings.
The title song with an alt-country feel which opens the recording, at first bemoans the trials and tribulations of this human existence and then celebrates the beauty inherent in it. ‘Livin’ in a world where too many people sit alone and cry. Living in a world where peace and love are in small supply.” transmutes to “Livin’ in a world where beautiful souls are everywhere. Livin’ in a world where so many people seem to care.”
Would You Look My Way has a harder rocking Who infusion, embellished by the electric violin of another talented regional performer, Caryn Lin. In it, Chelsvig dares to bare his soul.
What’s Going On has Chelsvig channeling Bob Dylan as he walks away from a relationship that is no longer a good fit. “Three years runnin’ and I gotta go. I go fishin! You go crazy, dont’cha babe?”
Dreaming carries a lazy drifty Caribbean feel, so much so that it is easy to imagine lying in a seaside hammock as you listen effortlessly.
Rocket Man has the most complicated story line and I wondered if this was about someone who had his own ‘dark side of the moon’ experience. Written by Tom Rapp, it offers the sad lyrics “My father was a rocket man. He loved the world beyond the world. The sky beyond the sky. And on my mother’s face. As lonely as the world in space. I could read the silent cry.” The wailing of Chelsvig’s trumpet echo those tears.
“With the wave of hand, Dada. I created all of this.” brings the listener into a chant called Dada that winds its way and reassures “I’m a part of everything. And you’re a part of me.”
One More Day gives hope to this who feel, “I am alone now. All alone. I hate this feeling deep inside. I want to run away. I want to hide. But I’ll try one more day.”
Two Lonely People feels like an ideal follow-up as it has the characters offering their hearts, their love and their bodies to each other, if only for one night.
This Time invites throwing caution to the wind with the lyrics “This time. This time. Run away with me.” as Chelsvig’s voice mellows and caresses the listener’s ear.
A reggae reprise of Livin’ In A World closes this potpourri of peace and presence.
Artist, writer and creative soul Ilanna Sharon Mandel finds in each day an opportunity to use her gifts and talents for the betterment of the planet. Whether it is photographing nature, writing about the concept of tikkun olam (the repair of the world), or the pain of her father’s passing, her work draws the observer or reader in and offers them a view into scenes that may otherwise have ‘gone unseen’. She lives by the quote from Rabbi Hillel “If I am not for me then who will be for me, But if I am only for myself then who am I; and if not now, when? “
How do you live your Bliss?
The way I live my Bliss is by connecting with others – people I care about and new people I love to meet and by following my creative heart. When I’m being creative I’m in bliss. And when I connect with people I truly care about I’m in bliss.
Although it may be difficult to label, how do you define your artistry?
Writing, photography, singing and using it to raise awareness around issues of social justice.
Had you been creative as a child, or did this come to you later in life?
As a child I was very involved with music and theatre.
As a photographer, how do you see beyond the physical image to the essence behind it and then translate it to the viewer?
When I’m taking a photograph I’m generally very involved with the subject and not thinking about translating it to the viewer. That comes later when I look at the photographs, and then I try to see what others might see or experience in the photograph.
What in particular about nature draws you to it?
I can only say this – it feels like home.
How did you develop your social conscience?
I owe a lot of that to my late father’s influence and my early work in the disability rights field. In that field I met many wonderful people with whom I still call friends today. They have taught me much about social justice, equality and human rights.
Although anyone who looks at your work will have their own perception, is there something you would like them to feel?
My hope is that they find something in each photograph that touches them in their own way.
Every artist I know has a dream about what their work can do out in the world. What is yours?
I dream big! I would like to have my novels and poetry published. I would like to exhibit my photography around the world. For me, my writing and my photographs speak volumes and I truly hope people around the world will want to listen. But, I should be honest. I dream of being interviewed on television and radio and that these interviews do me and my work justice. I hope that my work can one day make a positive influence in the world. I also dream of working in the documentary genre one day.
Fathers with Cancer
I stood by as you lied to the doctor about your true weight
Hoping it might mean something other than a death sentence
I shook as you sat with me
You knew this was the end
Still you took my hand
Quietly begged me to never give up on love
Telling me through silver tears that I was the best daughter I could be
Asking me if I would sit by you if your humanity began to slip away
Would I be with you if you chose to end your life
Would I help you take your last breath
Would I stay as you drifted away
Your corporeal body soon to be a shroud for the Kingdom of Heaven
Or would I beg you to stay no matter the consequences
Just to have my father here with me – if only for a few more minutes
Love is a birthing and sustaining Force, the impetus for all creation, the companion on the life path that we all traverse. We are taught that it looks a certain way and reflects particular types of relationships. It is my contention that it is the peanut butter and jelly on whole grain bread of existence. Simple, stick to the ribs, nourishing, doesn’t need to be fancy to be appreciated. It has long fascinated me since I was born into a family where it was a given. I never questioned or doubted that I was loved. A small immediate family and large extended family, we swam in ‘ love soup’. Not that I ever took it for granted, but accepted it as my birthright. Interesting the trajectory my life took, teaching people that it is their birthright too. Sometimes they resist that truth. Sometimes I resist that truth and my cave thoughts (the dark, shadowy ones that echo against damp drippy walls) come roaring out.
Yesterday this train of thought ran riotously down the tracks:
As we are immersed in holiday time, many folks are still scrambling to think of the perfect gift to give to family and friends. Colorful wrappings and ribbons that have already or will adorn boxes and bags, will be torn and strewn and then scooped up and tossed. This year instead of focusing on presents, the best gift to offer yourself and those you love, is your presence. I remember last year, sharing that same message, but this year it has even greater poignance. 2012 has been the year of Superstorm Sandy, a contentious election and the tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut and the (as she rolls her eyes) apparently erroneous belief that the end of the Mayan Calendar meant the end of the world. Not for a moment, did I think it was more than “the end of the world as we knew it”. At such times, we step up and take care of each other. I vote for that, all year long, how about you?
For such a long long time, I have found myself a member of many overlapping soul circles, some in my immediate locale; the Philly area and others scattered world wide. In the past few weeks, I have been embraced literally and figuratively by sweet souls in my home at the Annual Latke Party last weekend, as well as a Solstice gathering on Friday night at which we placed what it is we wanted to release from this past year into the Yule Log and then burned it. My friend Deva Troy says each year that the log literally feels heavier by the time it gets passed by each of us (about 40 people). Last night, I ventured 3 1/2 hours southward to visit Patti and Michael in Gaithersburg, MD who got married in Hawaii in September and since that ceremony was only attended by their immediate family, this was an opportunity for their family of choice to join together to celebrate both their marriage and the Solstice in our typical fashion. Alot of hugs, cuddles, snuggles, laughter and love were present in this house that we were all blessing with our presence. It had been a few years since I had gotten together with some and it felt like coming home. Time melted away as light hearted bantering ensued well into the wee hours. My head touched the pillow at 2:52 a.m. and blessedly I slept until 11:00 a.m. followed by brunch that included leftovers from the festivities. More laughter, love and snuggles ensued…how much of that can one woman stand?
When I consider my relationships, I feel enduringly blessed, especially when I remember that there was a time when these dear souls weren’t even on my radar screen. Even if we don’t see each other often, there is a comfort in knowing that they are out there, doing their life as I am, mine. Their friendship is a gift that keeps on giving. For that I am eternally grateful.
One of my favorite unconventional holiday songs www.youtube.com/watch?v=1MtgYLjv6cg Christmas in the Ashram-Tom Prasado Rao and Cary Cooper