A simple wish….

As my birthday is a couple of days away and the days of summer are quickly coming to an end, I’ve been trying to come up with ways to make the summer memorable, even with working cutting into it as it can.

Last Friday, I decided to go to Columbia County as my unofficial kickoff of the Saugerties Artists Studio Tour which took place last weekend. One place that I always like to make a visit at least once a year is Olana NY State Historic Site in Hudson, whose website is: http://www.olana.org/. Pictures can seldom do it justice, it’s a place that you simply need to see for yourself, as the scenery alone is worth the trip.

Another place I went to which served as the kickoff for the Studio Tour, Opus 40 (https://www.opus40.org/) which is another place that I try to make a point of my summer get-away. I have friends that are on the Tour that I met this past weekend, friends like Mikhail Horowitz, Carol Zaloom ( http://carolzaloom.com/) Mikhail Horowitz, Barbara Bravo, Iain Hugh Machell, Tara Bach amongst many other great artists.
I always make it a point to support them at any chance I have, mostly because that the artists here are like an extended family, always growing; expanding and learning but never forgetting that the Hudson Valley is a wellspring of both creativity and inspiration.

I truly consider all of them kindred spirits, sharing in the same flame that we encompasses the arts in general: the flame of the creative soul, one that embraces each challenge and meets them head-on. With it being my birthday week, my wish is to join them one day, to be as successful as they are in what they do, I’d like to be successful in what I like to do: my poetry. My wish for everyone is for all of us to live in peace and understanding as well, but I know that it won’t come true unless we all work for peace, helping each other along the way and helping them all….

Shine On!!!

Birthday Blast from the Past..#Monday

For as long as I can remember, game shows have been a part of my life. Growing up in the 1980’s, the age of personal computers, like the Commodore 64, the Nintendo Entertainment System and Saturday morning cartoons, game shows were (and still are) that special event where you could learn knowledge and be entertained at the same time.
From The Price is Right, Password, Family Feud, Jeopardy!, Wheel of Fortune and countless others, game shows have evolved as much as I have as a person. That said, the core concepts of these timeless classics remain, keep us entertained, laughing and learning all the way. Even if one was sick during the 1980s, you could always count on Bob Barker, Burt Convy, Ray Combs or Richard Dawson, Alex Trebek, Pat Sajack and Vanna White or even Chuck Woolery to be there, they were like reliable friends, a rare commodity at the time for a Spectrumite like myself.
My first memory was one such game show, Press Your Luck which was broadcast on CBS from 1984-1987. I don’t know what it was, the cartoon antics of the Whammy, the theme song, the board, the format, but whatever it was got me hooked into game shows before I even knew of the exploits of the late Michael Larson, who walked away with $110, 237 in one day, an unheard-of feat for its day, one that should be celebrated since he simply paid attention to the show.

He wasn’t the only one paying attention, I don’t think, if fact, even to this very day, I often use games in a Literacy Program I volunteer for as a way of giving back; my way of creating that same air of excitement and education that I received from my childhood, now what’s wrong with that? In this way, I try to help others like myself learn something new and always…

Shine on!!!

One life too precious not to give or receive…

Ok, here goes, time for me to make a confession..

I’ve recently discovered more about myself, most notably is the fact that I tend to wear my heart on my sleeve, that is to say, that I’m very emotional and have a hard time showing a poker face when my feelings are hurt. I’m trying to work on that, but changing who I am is a lot easier said than done, moreso for Spectrumites who are learning about themselves and the world in which we all share. My local parish priest punctuated that during his homily two weeks ago: “God always forgives, humans sometimes forgive, but nature never forgives.” I felt them to be very wise words; they struck a chord with me, as I often do things wrong sometimes without me knowing about it.

Believe me, I’ve been there many times before, all depending on the event, the crowd as well as my mood at the time. One of these happened at the ARC of Ulster Greene’s Humanitarian Dinner last year where I was one of the people honored. It was very humbling  and heartwarming for me to have people congratulate me on my hard work and look at me as a role model for them and others.

On the other hand, there are times where it feels like I’m the center of attention, even when I don’t really mean to be. There was a social event where it seemed where I was a celebrity and when I arrived, all the people swarmed in around me. Even though I was a regular person at the social event, the fact that I could drive myself, that I had a college degree and an outside job made me a hero in their eyes, which at times can get to be too   overwhelming, over stimulating and pressuring for me to handle. Even with staff present, it felt that it wasn’t enough for me, like I was the leader and I felt like being asked to multitask when you’re used to talking to people one-on-one.

Recently, I’ve felt a need to attempt to forgive those who have wronged me not because I need to, but rather because I want to; in order to be the better person if I’ve been wrong. I’ve been told by a friend and co-worker that I’m the strongest person he knows; it’s only now that I’m beginning to see how right he is, how strong I can be, even in times when I wish to be stronger still. The only thing I can do is to breathe and ask people I’ve wronged to forgive me, I was naïve, stupid and confident to the point of arrogance in my youth, but I’ve grown a lot since then, especially in the last 5 years.

So, if I’ve ever hurt you, intentionally or not, I hope you see that I was wrong, that maybe we were both arrogant and stupid as much as the other was. So I give you all a gift, one that you can both give and receive all in your own way, the gift to be able to forgive yourselves and each other, because without kindness, understanding and yes forgiveness, we might not see the better world we want for ourselves and society as a whole. I can only hope that you accept it, so we can all find a way to….

Shine On!!!

Another installment of Poetry Packed Out..

Have you ever felt like there’s so much going on in your lives and not a lot of time to get it all done? It’s like you have a standard you set for yourselves that you find difficult, even miraculous, to pull off without a hitch, well, that’s been my life so far. My life credo is that, even in the worst of circumstances, you can always make anything work. I tend to rattle it off like a bit of a habit, “I’ll make it work.”

Call it my artists’ intuition or my ability to roll with the punches (as best as I can anyway), but I do tend to pull almost anything off, even when people don’t realize what I have to do to make it happen. More times than naught, I’ve been successful and other times, not so much, but so long as the effort is there, then that (in my eyes, anyway) is all that matters.

A perfect example happened last week when a friend who was going to take my friends and I to a waterpark, was sick and had to cancel, so I decided to go to Hudson and make an unexpected trip in order to salvage the day, I didn’t know what I’d be doing there or what would happen, but nonetheless I made it work for me.  You can never really tell what’ll happen next, but if you leave your options open, 9 times out of 10, it all works out in the end.

I decided some time ago to write Juggle, a cinquain that sums those feelings, ones of tension, panic and pressure all into one short poem, which I share for your enjoyment:

By Brian Liston

Works, struggles
In life, work, play
To do many things at once to keep

Until next time, keep your options open, look ahead and, as always…


Shine on!!!

A is for a gift…

As we’re coming into August, there’s always been a local event that I make a point to make time and see in support of those like myself. You see, you may have guessed that I’m a poet, which is a part of the written (and spoken) arts. For as long as I an remember, I’ve always thought of myself as creative, but it wasn’t until the death of my paternal grandfather that I read his poems for the first time and he was a very good writer and someone I wish I knew sooner before his passing.

Then again, I guess, looking back, that I do know him from my own work.

I started writing poetry in high school, around 1998; got published into the school paper and was regarded by my schoolmates as a gifted and creative person and I wanted to think that publishing my poetry would be the next step. But I see now that I was foolish, not in my passion, but I know that I had a long way to go, a lot to learn before going that route.

That’s where my friend, Larry, comes into play, after graduating high school, my parents knew that college was the next logical step, one that my brothers went into, so it seemed only right for me to follow in thier footsteps and I’m glad that I did because I got to see more than I would’ve otherwise, it made me open up to a new world, new experiences and a new way to see it. Larry, more than anyone, was a friendly face in a new setting that was (I admit) very intimidating. In him, I saw a fellow poet, someone I could learn from and he from me after I disclosed to him about my having autism, I guess he looked at me as a kindred spirit as his sons were on the Spectrum as well and perhaps he saw something in me he wanted for them in the future.

From that seed he planted in me came a lifelong appreciation for the arts in general as well as a respect and admiration for librarians.  Some of the people he knew and worked with are also great friends of mine as they welcomed me into thier family, a touching sentiment was when they wrote supprtive messages on a whiteboard near the window of the Library acriss from where the graduating ceremony I was in several years later on would be. I always felt that it was a fitting sendoff for them to give me, as one of thier family and I’ll hold and cherish that memory for the rest of my life.

From that time on until his passing from ALS, Larry made it a point of inviting me to see different aspects of the arts, but due to transportation issues I had at the time, always left the invite open, if I could, great, if not, then that was ok as well. He even introdruced to me great artists from the area that I consider gems in the community: Carol Zaloom, Mik Horowitz, Gilles Malkine to name only a few, many of whom will be featured later this month at the Saugerties Artists Studio Tour, which I highly recommend all my readers to see at http://saugertiesarttour.org/. It really is something to see, something different but also refreshing at the same time. But isn’t that the way art always is, right? Without art, without life, without that spark of creativity, I (and all of us) wouldn’t light our darkness and might not find a way to…

Shine on!!!