Category Archives: Wild Card Post

May wild card



Hi Beth!

What I read in your posts at the start of this month is a desire for both structure and action at this time.  I see that, as the month has progressed, you have created your own assignments, similar to those that others have created for you over the last 10 months.  That’s really cool! In some ways, you are exploring how this practice might be sustainable or incorporated into your lifestyle after this project is over.

In considering that this is your penultimate month, I’m going to draw back a little to return to Dena’s request for reflection.  The rest of this month can be an opportunity to encapsulate or sum up for yourself some of the things you’ve learned throughout this entire process.  So, for the Wild Card, I’ve designed an exercise to help structure the reflection that Dena proposed.

The Wild Card:

I’d like you to make a list of the things that you have learned about yourself while going through the Living Chapters process.  It may be that you learned that you hate something that you thought you might like.  Or you may have learned meta-lessons, such as, “It’s hard for me to follow someone else’s vision.”  What have you come to understand about your nature, who you are, what is important to you, what is not important to you?  My goal is to have you walk away with a solid understanding of what this process has brought you.  I would imagine that looking at these assets, after you’ve written them down, can tell you a lot about purpose.

By the end of the month, I’m asking you to produce a solid list, not of questions moving forward, but of things you know for sure about yourself and what is important to you that you have taken from this last year.  Again, these are not universal lessons but things you know about yourself.

So here’s the wild card – to provide some structure to the worthy goal of reflection:

  1. Find a time every weekday to spend at least 30 minutes on this.  Find a quiet place to do this where you can really feel yourself.  In order to explore what you’ve learned, you can either do some writing for yourself or write letters one or more of the participants in the project, reflecting on what you learned in relation to their month;
  2. After some written reflection, either through personal writing or letters, create the list of things that you know about yourself and what is important to you that you’ve learned over the last year.  Find whatever form is comfortable for you for the list (e.g., phrases, paragraphs, etc…);
  3. [EXTRA] If you finish this list before the end of the month, create a cohesive way to present what you’ve learned. Maybe you want to create a written statement.  Maybe you want to make a series of photographs.  Maybe you want to make a short video.  The form is up to you but it should encapsulate what you know about yourself now as you near the end of this year.  Only do this bit if you go through the rest quickly.  Follow your own pace;
  4. Share the list (and the thing you make from the list) with us!

Have fun.  It has been beautiful watching this process unfold for you and I am really proud of your ability to follow the process through with such dedication and sincerity.  You have a lot of people supporting you!

With love,



Just finding this blog today? Read the prologue for more details on what Living Chapters is all about. Check out the Chapter Summaries Page to get caught up to date.


April Wild Card



This month’s mission has been about getting your heart rate up.  I think that it’s time to make that heart sing!

Your assignment is to dance. Everyday.

All day if you’d like, but for at least 10 to 15 minutes every day. Dance with a friend, dance with a stranger, dance with an enemy, dance by yourself!

What kind of dance you might ask?

Any kind! Modern, classical, ballroom, whatever mood happens to strike you at the time.

I know you have a good playlist to choose from, or just hum a tune to yourself. Is that all you ask? It sounds so easy!

Well, there is one other thing.  Take a class, a for real class where you learn a dance; it could be a Tango, or a Foxtrot, or Swing Dance, or some obscure tribal ritual.  But it must be an actual class where you must interact with an instructor, or a group.

That is your Wild Card assignment for the rest of this month.  I know you will swing into action!


Just finding this blog today? Read the prologue for more details on what Living Chapters is all about. Check out the Chapter Summaries Page to get caught up to date.

March wild cards


Hi Beth!  We are excited to be part of this month’s Living Chapter focusing on spirituality/existential. As you comb through sacred texts and reflect on your religious self, we want to add to the meditative component of this month’s chapter. During Alexis’ yoga teacher training a couple years, she learned about chanting as a way to lead-in to meditation. Chanting is recognized as a spiritual practice in many religions, and we hope it will add to your reflective experience for the rest of the month. So the Wild Card is quite simple: for at least one of your twice-daily meditations, start with chanting for a couple minutes. You can  increase your chanting time as you like. Chants can take many forms and you can use any phrase or mantra you like. Perhaps a line from one the texts you’ve read, or a meaningful song lyric, or even just a single calming word. For your reference, we’ve recorded some examples of chants that we like. These have even come in handy for calming our baby! We hope they have the same effect for you. As you build chanting into your meditative practice, try to focus on your breathing and allow the chant to serve as an aural broom, sweeping away any thoughts and worries. We think that sound can serve a unique role in spiritual reflection and we hope it brings additional clarification and calming to your day.

Loka Samasta:

Om Mani Padme:

Om Shanti Om:


Just finding this blog today? Read the prologue for more details on what Living Chapters is all about. Check out the Chapter Summaries Page to get caught up to date.

February Wild Cards


Hi Beth!

Here is my wild card for the Interpersonal Relationships theme for this month:

You are already focusing on “becoming” the person with whom you are engaging. The wild card for this month is to focus on a specific character trait held by the person you are engaging with. Name at least three traits (they can be from the same person or from different people). Think about the following questions per trait:
– Name the specific trait that jumps out at you
– Is this a trait that reflects your own character? Or is it a trait you wish you had?
– What is meaningful to you about this trait?
– If it is a trait you wish you had, what actions will you take to foster this trait for yourself?
– If it is a trait you already have, how does this trait affect your interactions with the world around you, including your relationships?
Write at least one blog post naming these character traits and discussing the questions above.
I hope you find this wild card helpful on the Journey of Beth Barbush!

january: wild card

Dave SchottIMG_6285

During the time that I began to know Beth, she was immersed in a number of projects in Baltimore.   These included: “Speaking of Silence”, “Middle East Baltimore Stories”, and “Remington Youth Community Radio” . These endeavors centered around uncovering voices and stories that had been purposely silenced or ignored as unimportant, or they were designed to give an outlet for those who don’t normally get to share themselves.  I remember spending time with Beth and plunging into questions around how these topics and people had been marginalized and silenced.  Something that I realized about Beth, was that as she was undertaking these projects, she was forging a connection to place, which helped to create an even deeper feeling of home for her in Baltimore.

This month you have been asked to investigate your new home of St Croix and share some of the things that you see, hear, touch, taste, and smell.  As you make new discoveries, you are connecting in different ways with your new environment.

For this month’s wildcard I would like to combine this exploration of your new environment, with the exploration of silence and marginalization.  As part of your discovery process you have been instructed to conduct three interviews.  During one of these interviews I would like you to try and interview a Crucian.  Along with the general questions you ask about the area that will help in completing your field guide,  I would like you to delve into some questions that will uncover something hidden within the fabric of life on the island.  This could be linked to the environment, culture, history, etc.. but must uncover something that has been  marginalized or silenced (possible examples:  crucian language and people, agricultural resurgence, cultural heritage, diversity of climate, water scarcity, bio-luminescent bays, hovensa oil refinery).  As this uncovering process helped you during your Baltimore projects, the goal is that this exploration of silence on St Croix will be a way for you to discover the depth of your new home, and possibly even uncover a creative project or interest for you there in the future.

As your field guide continues and as you use one interview to uncover something hidden about your new home, I would also ask that you take one photo per day of something that makes you feel at home there and to publish at least five of these at the end of the month on the living chapters website.    You can add short captions to each one or leave them to speak for themselves.

As a final link between home and silence: try to take ten minutes per day (you are welcome to extend the length if time allows) for yourself where you calm your mind in your new environment and just breath and relax.  I know that in previous chapters you have been asked to take on similar awareness exercises, and this is just a small continuation and reminder of that, as I know from my own life that when I am moving around and adjusting to new places, I forget to take this time for me, and have to be reminded to do so.

It is clear that there is much happening with your settlement on St. Croix (long plane rides, unfinished living space, remote roads, hindered communications and/or internet).   Don’t let this month’s chapter or additional wildcard challenge overwhelm or add difficulty to your life.  Instead, continue to adapt to each moment as you have before to see what it holds for you and how it can further your integration there.

As this is a busy time with adaptation and logistical considerations, let this also be a time of exploration, awareness and relaxation .

This chapter has set a direction and goals for you this month………but reaching the destination, as always, is not the important thing….


Just finding this blog today? Read the prologue for more details on what Living Chapters is all about. Check out the Chapter Summaries Page to get caught up to date.

A word from a pair of wild cards

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Agnes and Grace Lichtner were the first wild card duo adding their mid-month suggestions. In September, the existential chapter, Agnes asked me to take my meditation practice a bit further by adding days of silence while her daughter Grace asked me to not take my mediation practice too seriously by adding humor.  Their wild card final touches on this chapter along with Amy Rothstein’s thoughtful challenges helped make it one of the most rewarding thus far pushing me physically, mentally and emotionally. In this post, Agnes reflects on her and Grace’s role in the Living Chapters process.

As per requested for some insight from us Living Chapters “players”, my daughter, Grace and I would like to express our thoughts.

First, to be asked to be a part of this endeavor by Beth was a shock and an honor as we didn’t know Beth all THAT well but we were definitely drawn to her energetic personality.  We were curious, excited and anxious for the experience and are grateful she considered us an important asset to her experiment of living chapters for a year.

Grace thought it was fun and enjoyed being the wild card because it let her do something different and challenging.  Grace also comments that Beth is a great hula hooper, for sure!  The things we learn about each other!

As for me, I definitely feel I got a deeper sense of Beth as a friend, artist and human being.  I have learned that people are so much more complex with their interests but have the common ground of goodness.  It seemed to be proven through all of us who played a role that we wanted goodness to resonate through the experiences.  There was an effort with positive intent about decisions, interactions with others and nature, desires and aspirations that all of us in one way or another exuded.  Now, I don’t believe we all knew it would turn out that way but we DID want the best for Beth and with that came a bond we all shared and expressed.  Even the “strangers” whom Beth approached contributed a positive role for this experiment.  I was impressed that Beth was able to integrate unchartered players and it shows just how much influence and willingness is out there.  So all in all I feel more connected to the players that Beth is friends with and how we have more similarities than differences.

We didn’t have expectations more than we did curiosity and I admit the month of logging all our usage in daily activities stressed me out and at the same time reiterated how much we conserve and take care of each other and our earth.  Every little bit helps.

A lot of time and focus went into these months and it reminded me how much stamina Beth has and continues to keep for this project.  She’s much stronger than she realized and I’m sure she’s reasserted that into her head by now!  Every month has had a favorite moment but I’m happiest being able to keep up through the blog.

As for future plans for this project – I’m counting on Beth to come out with her idea and will support it’s manifestation.  Course having a get together to celebrate with all players involved would be interesting! hehe


Just finding this blog today? Read more about the Living Chapters project here.

November: wildcard


After being a guest on the Baltimore radio show “The Signal” in September of this year, our protagonist invited radio producer and host Aaron Henkin to be a wild card for November.  He submitted his wild card task through a recording this month.  Listen below to hear his mid-month challenge.

November Wild Card