Program Intro in Audio w/Pamela
Emotion Literacy Advocates presents Pamela Sackett, our principal artist and founder, describing facets of My Alphabet to Freedom, ELA’s multi-arts online curriculum, it’s core purpose, some of its advantages and arts-based methods.
The mp3 audio (13:24) includes a few excerpts from the musical and theatrical parts of the curriculum. Kindly click on the play button on the left of the horizontal bar below to listen:
Hi! My name is Pamela Sackett and I am a lifelong student of words and a word-lover. I find words and their relationship to emotions so eye-opening, I founded an entire organization around them called Emotion Literacy Advocates.
(“My Alphabet to Freedom” musical excerpt)
…sure as I stand here
sure as I breathe
oh words can hurt
words can heal
how do you know when
to keep or refuse them
I learned how to
as a guide to how I feel
words can reveal
the parts some words conceal
how do we define them
how do we align to them…
I have been using words ever since I could think but I didn’t really start thinking about how I think about words, until I began writing songs and poetry, comedic vignettes, theatrical scripts, rhythmic prose, umpteen word-things, and most recently, Emotion Literacy Advocates’ program curriculum. In the curriculum, I take advantage of different forms of expression to illustrate the deeper implications of what we say. No matter who we talk to, what we say to each other—and what we say to ourselves—can surprise and delight, surprise and disappoint, inform, obscure, inspire, reassure… every point on the full spectrum.
What we say to each other communicates something and what I always search to discover: Is that something that we communicate clear and true from an innermost place and does our truth make space for feeling?
Sometimes, when under stress or in a new situation, what we say to each other can be reactive and lacking in logic. Ever notice that? Sometimes, what we say to each other can be opaque and incomplete or definitive and incomplete—even to ourselves. Does what we say actually say what we want it to mean? That depends on who’s listening.
Let’s consider Jeff for a moment:
(“Just That Way” live monologue performance excerpt)
…I love you, you know? But it’s not my fault I’m better than you. I don’t mean to be. I just am. You knew I was better when you married me. I’m more skilled at games, more sensitive, more nurturing than you are or ever could be…
Does Jeff seem familiar at all? Who wrote Jeff’s narrative? Well, I did, but, I did not invent Jeff’s relationship to his sense of vulnerability nor did I invent his confidence-boosting strategy. I simply represented observations I have made through a very particular economy of scripted lines, leaving plenty of room for the actor to represent what’s between them.
My curiosity about context leads me to ask: does Jeff’s definition of success rely upon someone else’s failure and why? What else might be going on in Jeff’s narrative? Context plays a starring role in our curriculum.
In every of the curriculum’s twelve chapters we ask what’s between the character’s lines? We invite and guide emotion literacy explorers to read and interpret their own dictionary of feelings and needs, memories, associations, beliefs and values, through the lens of their expression.
The theatrical monologues I selected for the curriculum—there are twenty of them—represent emotional archetypes that serve the study of our relationship to vulnerability—the stuff of context—and language, its carrier.
Here’s another monologue excerpt in the curriculum called “Out of It.” Let’s take a look at Charlie’s relationship to his vulnerability and thinking process:
(“Out of It” monologue performance excerpt)
I wasn’t gonna come cuz I got this one figured out. I’ve got this one thing clear. I don’t need a tutor, because I don’t need to make the grade, because I’m quitting school and don’t try to talk me out of it.
I ‘m going to do just fine on my own too. You said so yourself. I’m smart, and clever and I’ve taught you a few things. Isn’t that the true test? I impressed you so who needs geometry…or English or history for that matter. I got my own history and I’m going to bury it along with my brother next week so what do I need a tutor for anyway? It’s not your fault. It’s nobody’s fault. It’s my decision. My choice. I got a right to a choice ain’t I…
Who writes our narrative when feelings and needs elude us? Would Charlie’s awareness of his fear and grief dissuade him from his decision to quit being tutored? ELA’s curriculum places great value on translation skills and an inclusive style of attendance to our interior landscape because that attendance increases our chances of getting our most tender needs met. And, when odds are slim, witnessing our needs can be more comforting than ignoring them—a subtle distinction we pronounce, in the curriculum.
To comprehend the anatomy of our own narrative is to have a way of genuinely knowing and identifying ourselves and that self-knowledge can greatly influence how we identify a stranger whose story we do not yet know?
(“One in All” musical excerpt)
…I know that I look
and I talk a certain way
but what does that mean and what does that really say
is my style or my face or my ideas some kind of cue
and given those
I want to know
is coming through
interpretation can be tricky
it’s tricky to see
what’s not bare
if I told you the “facts” of a particular life
would they persuade you, or not, to care…
The narrative I was fed guided my life for many years and some of it I sustain, gratefully. A significant part of the narrative I was fed did not mirror the true meaning—for me—of some pivotal life experiences I had during my formative years. In order to embrace the revelational new narrative I unearthed, years later, I had to re-weave my interpretation of those experiences that formed my identity and my ways of identifying others.
Growing up in the arts, I was lucky to be drawn to participate in a number of ways. It took my writing in multiple forms to get a handle on narrative and how it tends to operate. I learned how to recognize internalized narrative and it’s impact on my sense of myself; I learned I needed to open interior capacity to feel, to face pain, to grieve and retrieve lost parts of my teen self in order to really know all of myself authentically. Feelings tell their own story. Feeling-inquisitive narrative—a core component modeled in our program—allows us to receive that story. Feelings impart a kind of knowledge that lives between the lines of facts and figures.
Having a great capacity to feel and to be curious gives me freedom to unabashedly know myself and to choose how I express myself, in every-day conversation, in familiar and new situations. And in those times, when fear overwhelms me, my expanded feeling, thinking and curiosity capacities give me leverage to learn. This is what I call being able to respond, being response-able for where I sit, how I sit within myself and what I communicate—what I say, how I hear, whether I listen and whether I learn—all fertile soil for growing connections, understanding, empathy and courage.
Emotion literacy advocacy is my lifelong quest and my life’s work, because communication is my greatest need and my fondest aspiration—my road most traveled—with emotion literacy my map. A map I am dedicated to share.
(“Passageway” musical excerpt)
…I would like all things
to be accurate and fair
but human routes
don’t fit that neatly
inside a square
isn’t there a passageway
for a pure desire
to hold universal sway
I would like to host
a healthy and wholesome fight
with moves that dare embrace
both sides into the light
isn’t there a full-spectrum chance
to fall into
an earth-wide romance
how to cope
with this messy morass
how to keep my heart open when you close your own fast
how to face discomfort
I wish one song could
do the deed
culture the notes
in the ultimate key
open up room
for the you, the me
and the we
I would like to sing
a beautiful song
if I could
I’d sing it all day long
perhaps I should
oh-oh-oh how fun it would be
specially if you’d all sing with me
Thanks for being here!
[end of text for audio presentation]
Gratitude to our curriculum cast and crew featured in this audio:
David Silverman as Jeff (Just That Way)
Frederick Molitch as Charlie (Out of It)
Guy Nelson: vocals, instrumentals, arrangements
(My Alphabet to Freedom and Passageway)
Gwen Haw: vocal (Passageway)
Pamela Sackett: all narrative content, vocal, guitar
(My Alphabet to Freedom, One in All, Passageway)
Daniel Sackett: Recording engineer, mix, editorial