Day 74: Following Dreams

So, it is kinda a dream of mine to do a TEDtalk. I have been inspired by many of these substance-filled free online videos, and think that I might have a things or two to add to the TED tradition. When I received word that USF is hosting a TEDx (independently organized TED event) and accepting applications, I knew I had to go for it.

To apply, I must explain in 200 words or less my "big idea" and how it relates to theme of the conference, which is "the edge of the future," create an outline of the 3-4 points I want to cover, and send a link to a 2-3 minute video of me talking about my "big idea."

So here's my video. Wish me luck!

Day 53: More Hosts

So we've been running this Open Mic at Cafe Hey for 4 1/2 years. First it began with me and my friend Penny, but about a year into it we realized that we needed some help. I recruited one of our regular poets to start to host too, and shortly after we had another poet step up and say that he wanted to host. Since then we've had a solid team of the four of us, and would take turns with the responsibility of hosting.

I've been so grateful over the years for this commitment that the others have made. It is hard work running a show every week and it's a lot for just one or two people to manage. I don't think we would have made it this far without help.

And with help, we are going a long way. It's gonna be awesome.

Day 46: All Too Much

I love it when one of our regular open mic-ers goes up to the mic and plays my favorite song of there's without me even having to ask.

Tonight, Barry did just that. Barry's been coming to the open mic for a years now. Though he had been on a hiatus for a bit, this was his second week back and we are glad to have him. About a year and a half ago, he turned me onto a fabulous George Harrison song, called, "All Too Much." I have

written about this song before

, but I will do it again. 

In less words, I will just say that I hear this song and feel relieved to know that someone else feels the same way I do. I feel it characterizes both the beauty and despair of the spiritual life.

See what you think:

Day 39: A Successful Open Mic

Over four years ago, my friend Penny and I decided we wanted to start an open mic, a place where people could come and share their thoughts, their crafts, and themselves in a supportive environment.  Luckily for us,  a good friend of ours had just opened a

Cafe Hey

and did not have an open mic night yet. So on May 28th, 2008, the

Open Mic at Cafe Hey

was born.

With the exception of a handful of nights, we've held open mic at Cafe Hey every Thursday night since. It's gone through many evolutions but one thing stays the same: Anyone is free to share whatever they want. It is amazing to see what unfolds in a space like that.

I've said for a few years that I would like to write the book on open mic. Maybe I will, but until then I will just keep sharing and be thankful to those who share too.

Oh yeah, and we won Best of the Bay from Creative Loafing for the second year in a row this week! That's quite a feat because I don't think any of us voted. At least some others did!

Day 17: The King of Pop

Between the ages of 6 and 12 I was obsessed with Michael Jackson. OBSESSED. The most rented movie by me from our local blockbuster was The Making of Thriller. I probably saw that movie at least 20 times.  And I made sure I had my own copy of Moonwalker. Saw that one at least 50. I was proud to be a card-holding member of the official fan club. I was captivated by this man, as many others were and still are.

When news of allegations started to surface it became "uncool" to like MJ, but my love went on.  Watching his magic on stage is a big part of what lead me to explore the power of performance.  In a way, he inspired me to create Open Mic at Cafe Hey, a place where others can share their gifts.

Though I'll also admit things got a little weird in his later years, I still feel he was an invaluable gift to our world. Michael showed us both the best and the worst of human nature. The grand capacity for love as well as the depths of self-destruction. I feel confident to say I truly believe that if I were in his shoes, I would have done the same. He was a prophet with a microphone. Give Moses some talent and place him in modernity; I will bet we'd get some messy truth too.

I remember two things from him very loud and clear: I am not alone and if I want to make a change, I've got to start here.  Ain't nothing truer than that.

Day 12: Truthful Praise

Last night was another great open mic at Cafe Hey. This little open mic grew out of my desire to have a place where I could freely share my art and myself, and meet others who desire the same. It has turned into an ever-shifting community of people, that is creating positive change in the world more than I could have ever imagined. I have made many friends through the open mic, or had friends convert into open mic attendees and feel blessed that every week I get to go to a place where I'm loved, accepted, and even sometimes praised.

I will acknowledge that it is difficult for me to write the last word in the previous paragraph, but after last night I think I need to get over it.  In all the amazingness that was shared last night there were two moments in particular that pulled my heart-strings to tightly I thought they might snap.

The first was when one of our hosts and good friend of mine shared a poem named after me. It's not about me per se, but about his experience with an emotional release session with me.  He shared his experience with working with me as a therapist and how it helped him tremendously in his healing. I felt blessed to have a shout out like that.

But apparently he was not the only one who felt compelled to let the people know the good news that they can feel better and that I might be the one to help them.  We had a last minute sign up by another friend of mine who happened to be in that night.  He  also shared his experience with seeing me for treatment and the resulting disappearance of crippling migraines that plagued him his entire life. That's a big claim in itself. But then it went further. He also told a story of when he was in his darkest moment, and how out of all the friends he thought of, it was me, the thought of me, that helped to pull him out of despair. Wow. He said, "Nyssa is a light in this world and you all need to know it."

The tautness of my heart-strings reached a breaking point in that moment.  My heart didn't break, it broke open.


There is this really amazing open mic every Thursday night at Cafe Hey.  Called the "Open Heart Open Mind Open Mic," it is a place where anyone can share anything. Its incredible what happens in that space. I am lucky enough to say I've had something to do with it.

Started almost 4 years ago with my friend Penny, our open mic has become well-known as a place to come and be yourself.  It is the main focus of Door Stop Productions, a love-project created to connect with community artists and explore the power of live performance.

This picture is from the open mic tonight, which was one of those that felt even more synergistic than others.  We had a great crowd, ranging from 1 to I don't know 60...70?  Here's a pic of Micah fascinated by Zane's harmonica.

There was a great range of poetry, comedy, and music and a genuine appreciation for each performer from the whole audience.  I don't know what it is like for people that come in for the first time, but I hope it's like they just walked into a gathering of family that they didn't even know they had yet.