Tag Archives: drama

The "Loaded" Dishwasher

Part of this wonderful journey of being a published author, is the generosity from other writers.  Gail Maria Forrest is a clever, quick-witted, honesty-mongering, woman who writes the wildly entertaining and insightful blog gonepausal .  It’s my great pleasure to welcome her to THESE HERE HILLS, and to share her essay with you…about when to draw the line in a relationship that just ISN’T working.  Some relationships are meant to end, and this one clearly was one of them.  Thanks for writing from the trenches, Gail.  Please feel free to comment here.  Gail will be around to respond…yrs. Laura

p.s.  If you are no longer receiving my blog posts in your email in box, try re-subscribing.  Thanks!

The Dishwasher : This was not the story it was supposed to be.
I am not a domestic diva.  My Mother always thought my inability or refusal to learn how to set the table would prevent me from getting married.  She also mentioned my messy table manners. “Mom,” I would whine, leave me alone, that has nothing to do with a man liking me or not.”  Was Mom psychic?

I had two husbands, I showed Mom.  Neither one of them ever mentioned my lack of domestic skills.  They had better things to do than monitor my household acumen; we also had a cleaning woman which took the pressure off.  For reasons other than table setting and manners those marriages fizzled into divorce.  Call them bad timing for this girl who was still seeking independence and couldn’t figure out how to combine that with marriage.  In hindsight I would marry them both again.  Don’t tell my Mom or she would never stop saying “I told you so.”

When I met Jake I had been a private art dealer for 18 years.  The first 15 were very successful and I loved the freedom of working for myself along with making lots of money.  I could afford cleaning help so I never did have to fine tune my domestic skills.  It is important to know that I never turned on my dishwasher because I never loaded it.  After my son went off to college it was just me, my take-out food, and a few dishes.  I had zillions of them after two marriages but truthfully just used a plate, a coffee mug, and a wine glass.  I ate and washed them by hand.  It was quick and easy.  I never gave a dishwasher another thought.

I swear on a stack of bibles you do not really know about someone until you live with them.   Heed this advice or forever cease bitching and moaning about how he/she changed.  No one changes. Ha!  When I moved in my business had been dropping off due to 9/11 and the demise of the economy.  I was unfortunately  in a weakened financial position so living with him was certainly going to help me out.  I could save or at least not bleed money.  This was not a good plan.  If I had thought I could make the drinks at Starbucks I would have been better off saying “Welcome to Starbucks may I take your twisted and unnecessarily complicated order?”  I had every intention of making our relationship work however.  It was time and I was ready. Nothing could stand in my way.

“Gail,” Jake said sternly as we stood side by side in front of the dishwasher one afternoon. He had summoned me to the kitchen.  He opened the door and slowly pulled out the racks.  I had no idea what was on his mind but thought  the dishes looked  clean.  He pointed to the silverware.  Oh no, oh no I hoped he wasn’t going to ask me to set the table; I was doomed. The placement of the fork, spoon, knife and napkin raced through my head and I couldn’t remember which side was for which utensil.  Curses!

“Gail, he repeated as I stood there a little antsy and bored.  Do you know there is a correct way to load the dishes and silverware?”  Huh? is the bubble over my head   “ I wasn’t going to say anything to you, but time after time I go to unload the dishes and can’t believe what you’ve done.”  I wanted to burst out laughing but saw how serious he was.   “Do you know what happens when you haphazardly put  things in it?”  Uh oh, a pop quiz.  Damn, I hated those.

“No, I don’t know exactly what happens, but  I know I put the dishes in the dishwasher to clean them.”  That had to be the right answer.

“No, there happens to be a right way to place them.  Haven’t you noticed how I do it?”  I shook my head in response to his question and in disbelief that he actually asked the question.

“YOU, put all the silverware in the front, and when you do that it doesn’t get clean.  You have to spread it to the back holders, that way the machine works more efficiently.  And the wine glasses can’t just go in anywhere.  They need to be up here.”  As he continued to re-arrange the dishwasher I stopped listening.   What was this high school home ec class?   I wanted to yell “big fucking deal” but didn’t.  He had a bad temper and I had a failing business.  Against every voice in my head I kept quiet.

There are straws that break the backs of even the strongest camels.  I always thought of myself as a big brave Dromedary yet I was weakening with every chore and appliance.  Each lecture whether in front of the dryer where I was reprimanded for not cleaning the lint filter after each load.

“Do you realize you could set the house on fire?”

To the utensil drawer,

“Why are you putting the shorter forks with the longer ones?  That’s not how they go.  Why can’t you care about this and pay attention when you put them away?”

Onward to the sink,

“There are two different  sponges to wipe off the counter Gail, you’re using the wrong one again!”

I had been re-defined and re-evaluated by appliances.  I failed “Dishwasher 101 and Intro to Chores.”  Ironically another relationship was down the drain.  He was right I didn’t care about the sponges, forks, lint filters, or ill placed wine glasses.  I’m proudly not a domestic diva and maybe Mom was prophetic- one man didn’t like me as a result.  I can’t set a table or load a dishwasher correctly but thankfully I remembered how to pack my clothes.  I am happily much more than the sum of my domestic skills.

Now where’s my plate?

About Gail:
I’m cheap, hate to shop (see above photo– that’s me being pushed into a store) and have anxiety about driving more than 100 miles alone. None of these traits are genetic; I developed them all by myself. I can’t order a $10 glass of wine without getting a small rash. Unfortunately it is becoming increasing difficult to find a nice Sauvignon Blanc for less, which makes me sad and I’m afraid I’ll have to switch to beer. I love to ride horses, except when the jumps get too big, but now in my older years I just burst into tears and beg my trainer to make them lower. I’m a runner but can’t take one step without music, so I always carry extra batteries for my walkman….no, I don’t have an iPod….remember I’m cheap. I love my beefy boy Yellow Lab “Elliot” aka “Potato” although this is slightly hard on my ego as he is far more attractive than I am and gets all the attention everywhere we go. I also complain a lot about the weather which is why every winter I leave freezing cold Chicago where I live and head for Palm Springs, CA to warm up and rip off my North Face Parka.
I started www.gonepausal.com four years ago as a way to rant and rave. I noticed all of my girlfriends were doing the same thing. We were “testy, snarky, and no longer took direction well. Our tolerance levels were dropping as fast as our hormone levels. No thoughts were sacred or private as we blurted out tales of our diminishing sex drive. Desiring sex came right after laundry, cleaning the bathroom and eating ice cream out of the container. I couldn’t resist the urge to write about our new peri and menopausal lives. I am also pleased to be a woman’s web-site that has allotted a section for men to bitch and moan about their menopausal women called “The Men’s Room.” Yes, I’m an equal opportunity pausal employer. Along with gonepausal I now am on a new internet radio show called “YAK” www.herewomentalk.com the Zeuss Radio Network. It’s a weekly show about “everything” that comes to mind which runs the gamut from stripping as exercise to my disastrous internet dates. In the end I want to thank my Mother for telling me I should write a blog when she didn’t even know what that meant. Thanks Mom for www.gonepausal.com !


Filed under My Posts

One Woman Show

I hear all the time “I want to write a book but I don’t have time.”  Or “I want to write a book but I have small kids.”  Or “I want to write a book but I have to work fulltime.”  Or “I want to write a book but I’m afraid of what my mother will say.”  I don’t have a lot of sympathy for these comments.  If you want to do something that badly, then do it.  Find a way.  I believe in the pure intention behind the phrase “I want.”  I believe more in the act of creating.  And I believe that we are the ones that get between the two and block our own way.

I have a friend who blows me away with her clear intention and ability to create her life and thereby inspire other people to do the same.  She is transformation in motion.  Yoga teacher, life coach, actress, artist, yoga and meditation retreat leader…phenomenal presence.  I am so proud of her and I want to share what she’s up to these days:  a one woman show.  Just in case it was on your “bucket list,” here’s a word from Jennifer Schelter about how this came to be.  Hopefully it will inspire you to move outside of wishing or wanting…and into creating.  And if you’re lucky enough to be in the Philly area, go see it!

Here’s a trailer to the play

To read the full interview about the entire process of how it came to be  Click here:

What Made Me Write and Perform “Love Lessons from Abu Ghraib”?

by Jennifer Schelter

I guess, you could say, I am the Queen of transforming needless suffering in to something beautiful. And “Love Lessons from Abu Ghraib,” is just that, with a big dash of “I needed to heal my own depression.”

The process of alchemizing depression, anger and sadness into calm, forgiveness and love, is required of an artist. And I take that seriously. I am the artist of my own life. Each day I get a blank canvas. Each day I get to create who and what I will experience. I was in pain and depression after listening to one of the most eye opening experiences I’ve witnessed: Listening and meeting former torture victims. I needed to heal my self.

This play is relevant because torture doesn’t stop. You turn on the radio or TV and out it comes– tons and tons of stories and language, spewing atrocities and violence. I don’t watch or listen. I watch and read it when necessary. I’ve got enough going on between my own two ears. The average person has over 60,000 thoughts a day. 75-85% of them are disempowering and negative. I’m interested in mastering and living in the 20-25% life affirming and empowering thought zone – gratitude, laughter, gentleness, balance, vision, seeing opportunities and possibilities. I call it my “Let’s see what beauty I can create and love life” diet.

People all over the world are tortured in numerous ways. You don’t have to be in Abu Ghraib to be tortured. There are a lot of tortured souls, faking happiness, staking their lives on things that don’t sustain them, depressed, anxious, unfulfilled, not listened to, unacknowledged, conditionally loved, alienated, and isolated. If more people were unconditionally loved, supported, valued, nurtured to play, have fun, be passionate, forgive, and excited to participate in learning new ways of seeing them self and their lives, violence would shrivel like a raisin. You can’t praise and judge simultaneously. Unless we look at the subtle ways we beat our own self up, it will never stop.

Given the recent shooting in Tuscan and President Obama’s statement, “…at a time when we are far too eager to lay the blame for all that ails the world at the feet of those who happen to think differently than we do -– it’s important for us to pause for a moment and make sure that we’re talking with each other in a way that heals, not in a way that wounds.”

“Love Lessons” is my way of taking a moment to talk to my self and others in a way that heals not wounds. It’s my way of forgiving this imperfect job we all have: Being human. My way of understanding and learning is to dialogue, write and study a subject until I feel transformed. Physical movement or kinesthetic learning is part of my process and part of yoga. I study to master how to transform thought into an embodied experience of feeling “divine and free” and have fun while doing it! I’m grateful for having the opportunity to be an actress, playwright, meditation, yoga teacher and life coach. These combined passions and professions have saved me and given me grace when I most needed it. I don’t know what I would do with out physical movement, creativity and Mother Nature. That combination is literally “My God” and offers me the ability to be able to sit with the darkest and lightest part of humanity and myself. The physical body, heart and mind are an alchemical vessel.

I’ve held a lot of pain over the years and I’ve learned how to transform all of it into something practical, useful and beautiful. And because of that I’m really in love with fun and humor right now. It’s my intention that students feel their own inspiration and freedom as well. I think the dark and light inform one another. But it ain’t an easy road or journey. The contrast makes for awareness of how they compliment one another. The dark grit feeds the light grace and new growth. You don’t get to heaven eating angel food cake.  Although, I’ve tried. Flowers only grow and bloom when first planted in dark soil.

Obama recently said, “And I believe that for all our imperfections, we are full of decency and goodness, and that the forces that divide us are not as strong as those that unite us.” Well, I took that statement apart and substituted “I” and “My.”

So it reads: I believe that for all my imperfections, I am full of decency and goodness, and that the forces that divide me are not as strong as those that unite me.

In Sanskrit Yoga means, “to unite”. I stand for any and all creative practices that unites a person in their own definition of goodness. And I know that how I treat my self and others is entirely up to me.

For more information:  http://www.InterActTheatre.org and www.yogaunites.org

Love Lessons Trailer


Written & Performed by Jennifer Schelter
Directed by Anne Zumbo

WHEN: January 29 – February 13, 2011

Saturdays @ 4 p.m. & Sundays @ 7p.m.
WHERE: The Adrienne, 2030 Sansom Street, Philadelphia
INFO / RESERVATIONS: InterAct Theatre Company Box Office

Phone: 215.568.8079
Online: http://www.InterActTheatre.org

Philadelphia, PAInterAct Theatre Company continues its 23rd season with the special engagement of LOVE LESSONS FROM ABU GHRAIB written and performed by Jennifer Schelter, which begins performances on Saturday, January 29 at 4:00 p.m. Inspired by interviews conducted with Iraqi prisoners of war, LOVE LESSONS offers a unique perspective on spiritual survival and how victims of trauma overcome the pain of their past while learning to move on with their lives.

In 2006, renowned Philadelphia Yoga teacher and performer, Jennifer Schelter was invited by Lierman Trust for Humanitarian Law to accompany humanitarian lawyer Susan Burke on an expedition to Istanbul, Turkey, where she collected testimony from tortured Iraqis who had been imprisoned at Abu Ghraib. Schelter’s role was to offer her expertise in mind-body connection and integral growth practices as a form of healing to the former detainees. Inspired by the improbable bravery and beauty of the stories she witnessed, Schelter used her unique artistic language, expertise in Yoga, and spiritual growth to craft LOVE LESSONS FROM ABU GHRAIB, a one-woman performance piece that chronicles not only her own personal journey but those of several Iraqi prisoners of war. Often using light-hearted humor to heighten its drama, LOVE LESSONS is a unique and touching play that examines the repercussions of torture and the different ways we attempt to heal ourselves.

Originally performed as part of the 2007 Philadelphia Philly Fringe Festival, LOVE LESSONS has earned praise from critics and audiences alike. Joy E. Stocke, executive editor of Wild River Review hailed LOVE LESSONS as, “a rare piece of theater weaving personal experience, research, and deep knowledge of yogic practice… a compelling story [that] is a testament to her gifts as an actress and writer.” Marian Robinson, host of “Philadelphia Evening Magazine,” called the play, “Extraordinary… the script was insightful, thoughtful, entertaining, illuminating, provocative, charming and everything all rolled into one.” Audience members Pennsylvania Senator Arlen Specter congratulated LOVE LESSONS as, “a very important message… presented in a unique, artistic and impressive way” and Elizabeth Gilbert, author of New York Times best-selling novel Eat, Pray, Love, said, “[Jennifer Schelter has] created a rapturous, captivating and somehow redeeming night of theater out of the darkest, most spiteful and shameful chapter of recent American history… a driving, impassioned, funny, innocent and riveting cry of the heart…”

To read an interview with playwright and performer Jennifer Schelter, visit:  http://www.interacttheatre.org/talkingwithjenniferschelter.htm http://www.interacttheatre.org/talkingwithjenniferschelter.htm.

February 6, 2011: Immediately following the Sunday evening performance of LOVE LESSONS, at approximately 8:15 p.m., Yoga Unites will host a panel discussion featuring experts in the field of creativity, health and wellness. Topics of discussion will include the meaning and importance of being a compassionate witness, how healing happens, the role creativity plays in the healing process, and how to cultivate and nurture creativity in the face of fear or pain. Line-up of guest speakers to be announced. The discussion is free and open to the public.



February 9 and 16, 2011: Stories That Need To Be Told: Share Your Heroes Journey, a series of workshops lead by playwright and actress Jennifer Schelter that explore the power of sharing one’s journey through storytelling, from written to spoken word. Using Schelter’s proven techniques of building humor, calm and confidence, participants will record their inner-most journey while practicing building a safe space, basic breathing and meditation, guided visualization, gentle yoga, and journaling and writing. Workshop one, entitled “Write and Embrace Your Story,” will be held on Wednesday, February 9, 7:00 – 9:00 p.m., and will culminate with participants completing a short, written piece. Workshop two, entitled “Stand and Speak Your Story,” will be held on Wednesday, February 16, 7:00 – 9:00 p.m., and will culminate in participants creating a short monologue that speaks of their heroic journey. The cost to participate is $40.00 per workshop or $60.00 for both workshops together. Reservations can be made through InterAct’s box office at 215.568.8079 or online at www.InterActTheatre.org <http://www.InterActTheatre.org/>  < <http://www.interacttheatre.org/> http://www.interacttheatre.org/> . No yoga, meditation, acting, or writing experience is necessary.

JENNIFER SCHELTER (Playwright and Performer) Called “One of the Most Inspiring People in Philadelphia” by US Airways Magazine, June 2008, “Best Yoga Instructor” by City Vote 2008, “Best Yoga Instructor 2007” by Philly Fit magazine, and “a real Goddess” by the Philadelphia Inquirer, Jennifer Schelter is an expert in mind-body well-being, observational precision and peak performance modalities that get you calm, and your focused best.

Jennifer, founder and executive director of Yoga Schelter the premiere regional yoga studio in the East Falls section of Philadelphia, is a 500-hour Yoga Alliance Certified Experienced Yoga Teacher and Teacher Training facilitator. Besides her daily teaching schedule, her corporate clients include GlaxoSmithKline, Medtronic, Wharton Business School, and University of Pennsylvania.

She is the founder of “The Radiant Retreat”, a transformative retreat to Maya Tulum, Mexico (which she leads and collaborates with writer/performer Ann Randolph). She is the visionary of Yoga Unites®, a non-profit that provides tools for well-being, self-awareness and self-expression for underserved populations such as the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society – Youth Environmental Stewardship, Philadelphia Mural Arts and Arthur Ashe Tennis Center. Her leadership directs over 1,000 enthusiasts annually at “Yoga Unites for Living Beyond Breast Cancer” on the Philadelphia Art Museum steps. The event has become the largest, regionally-beloved annual event of its kind in the country. The production is growing in leaps and bounds and produces expanded revenues each year.

In October 2009 Jennifer, along with Phyllis Bookspan, founder of RYAH Yoga and Health, co-founded An Authentic Journey into Yoga, Health and Happiness: The Creation of A Successful Life, a 200-hour RYAH/Schelter-Yoga Teacher Training. She is also the producer of the audio yoga CD, am Awake, as well as the DVD, The Art of Vinyasa Yoga.

As an actress and playwright, Jennifer performed her one-woman tour-de-force, LOVE LESSONS FROM ABU GHRAIB, to a standing ovation at the Philadelphia Fringe Festival in September 2007, the Philadelphia Arts and Democracy Conference in June 2008, and was produced by Amnesty International at the Capital Hill Arts Center, Washington, DC, Haverford College, and Eastern Amnesty International Conference in October 2009. Additionally, portions of LOVE LESSONS, along with her short story, “The Michelangelo Effect,” were published in the 2006 summer edition of Wild River Review.

A member of Actors’ Equity and the Screen Actors Guild, Jennifer originated the role of Cat in the 2006 World Premiere of THE FAMILY ROOM by Nagle Jackson at Hedgerow Theatre. In 1998 she originated the role of Cordelia in the World Premiere of TAKING LEAVE by Nagle Jackson at the Denver Center Theatre Company, where she jointly accepted the Tony Award for best regional theatre. She has also worked at the renowned Old Globe Theatre in San Diego, as well as other leading regional theatres across the country.

Jennifer has traveled to Europe, the Balkans, Asia, Southeast Asia, South America and the Caribbean photographing the local personalities, and painting watercolors of landscapes, architecture, and animals. In the summer of 1997, she was selected for Art Retreat Week on the Island of Great Spruce Head, Maine, at the home of American Artist Fairfield Porter. She has sold her work to friends and patrons alike for years; those seeking aliveness and authenticity.
After graduating from Germantown Friends School, she attended Philadelphia college of Art and University of Syracuse in Florence, Italy. She graduated both from Connecticut College with a Bachelor of Arts in Art History and Oil Painting and the University of San Diego/Old Globe Theatre Program with a Masters in Theatre.

For more information regarding her inspired yoga, meditation and writing classes, integral growth coaching, and retreats for individuals and corporate clients, visit her award winning website:

ANNE ZUMBO (Director) is pleased to work together once again with Ms. Shelter, directing LOVE LESSONS FROM ABU GHRAIB, now in its 4th incarnation. After working for Melanie Stewart Dance Theatre, Anne studied physical theatre at the renowned Ecole Philipe Gaulier in London, U.K. Upon her return, she began creating socio-political pieces that performed for the Philadelphia Fringe Festivals and collaborated with Myra Bazell to write the script for EXTREME. During that time she also directed for and presented in small theatres around Philadelphia, and the Ritz Theatre in NJ where she began her love of teaching while working with the autistic and deaf students who attended their camp. She now celebrates her 4th year working with students with disabilities at Wissahickon Charter School, the country’s only urban school with an environmental mission.


Founded in 1988, InterAct is a theatre for today’s world, producing new and contemporary plays that explore the social, political, and cultural issues of our time. InterAct’s aim is to educate, as well as entertain, its audiences, by producing world-class, thought-provoking productions, and by using theatre as a tool to foster positive social change. To date, InterAct has presented 70 mainstage productions, including 30 World Premieres, two U.S. premieres, and over 30 regional premieres. The company has received 43 Barrymore Award nominations and 16 awards. InterAct’s mainstage productions have provided work for over 500 local artists. Inaddition to the 4-play mainstage season, InterAct Theatre’s major programming includes InterAction, a program of experiential workshops and residencies in area schools that utilize theatre as a tool to illuminate pressing social problems in the community; the20/20 New Play Commissioning program, an ambitious new initiative that will award twenty new play commissions over six seasons; and New Play Development, working closely with playwrights to develop plays that adhere to the company’s mission.



Filed under A Place For Writers To Share, My Posts