Category Archives: Guest Writer

Dear Deity …


Stan Horwitz


PHILADELPHIA — This morning, I woke up to the horrible news about the mass shooting in Las Vegas. They’re saying that at least 50 people perished and at least 200 people were injured by the sniper while attending a country music festival at the Mandalay Bay.

My condolences to the victims and injured and their friends and family. Not enough thanks can be given to all the heroes who helped take out the shooter and stop him from doing even more harm. Bravery like that is a rare trait.

I saw that my state’s own senator Pat Toomey offered his prayers to the victims, their friends and families. Other politicians are no doubt doing the same. How nice of them to offer prayers at this tragic time in our history.

Maybe instead of Toomey and his fellow senators and President Trump just offering useless prayers to the dead and their survivors, they actually do something real to fix this problem of violence in our country. These mass shootings seem to be growing in frequency and body counts. Prayer isn’t helping. I doubt it hurts, but it obviously isn’t helpful either.

Here’s my prayer: Dear Deity who knows all blah, blah, blah and who presumably saw this tragedy blah blah blah coming yet did nothing blah blah blah to prevent it, blah, please blah blah let those shooting blah blah blah victims blah blah blah go to your blah blah Candy Land.

If I did believe in the power of prayer, I would pray every day to the God in which I believe to stop the violence from occurring in the first place.

But what do I know?

March Was About Human Rights


By Danielle Niemuth

I’ve seen quite a few women using the hash tag #notmymarch and proclaiming that they don’t need feminism. First of all, let’s clear up some definitions.

1. misogyny: dislike of, contempt for, or ingrained prejudice against women
2. misandry: dislike of, contempt for, or ingrained prejudice against men
3. feminism: the advocacy of women’s rights on the basis of the equality of the sexes.

People often equate feminism with misandry and “bra-burning”. By definition, feminism is for the promotion of equality in the sexes (this would mean it’s against “man hating”, BTW). Now, I think we can all agree that there are physical and mental differences between men and women. So this is when we need to remember that “equal” doesn’t mean “the same”.

A lot of folks want to simplify the Women’s March down to abortion and birth control, but that’s not what it’s about. You can agree or disagree with either of those topics until you’re blue in the face. Are there women and men at the March who support keeping birth control and abortions legal? Yes. Do you need to agree with that in order for this to be your March? Absolutely not.

The March is about human rights. And guess what? #womensrightsarehumanrights. The rights of the LGBT community are human rights. The rights of the disabled, both physically and mentally, are human rights.

Maybe you’ve never felt personally victimized by “the patriarchy” or society as a whole, and I hope that you never do. I hope you’re never the victim of sexual assault, much less one that results in a pregnancy you don’t want. I hope neither you nor your loved ones become disabled and need to rely on government assistance just to get by. I hope that you can continue to live in a blissful world where all of your rights are legally still your rights.

A lot of the posts about #notmymarch use their current rights as reasons for not needing feminism. We have the right to birth control, the right to own a gun, the right to work, the right to an education, the right to vote. But do you know how we, as women, got those rights? We didn’t get them because the government just one day decided to gift them to us. We got them because of women who marched. Maybe those rights will never be taken away, but maybe they will. So I hate to break it to you, but whether or not you agree with topics like abortion or think you don’t need feminism, #thisISyourmarch.

It’s Only A Mistake If …



Inner Peace Playground

We all make mistakes. Most of us don’t like making mistakes, but it’s something that we all do. Despite attempts to move forward, backward steps are a normal part of life. Mistakes are our chance to reassess our goals and to think about where we have temporarily landed. With introspection you have a newfound chance to assess where you have landed and to come up with a revised way of getting where you want to go.

Since mistakes are a regular and expected part of growth, it’s important that you don’t stay stuck in the mistake. In fact, why call it a mistake when a shift in perception could view it as a lesson? Learn, learn some more and then move forward. Lessons come when we least expect them and growth ultimately becomes the perfect reward.

Permit mistakes to be your teacher. Allow the lessons that mistakes teach you to be your springboard to learning. Accepting that mistakes are just lessons in disguise offers you wonderful opportunities for serenity with personal growth at the core. Namaste

We all make mistakes. Most of us don’t like making mistakes, but it’s something that we all do. Despite attempts to move forward, backward steps are a normal part of life. Mistakes are our chance to reassess our goals and to think about where we have temporarily landed. With introspection you have a newfound chance to assess where you have landed and to come up with a revised way of getting where you want to go.

Since mistakes are a regular and expected part of growth, it’s important that you don’t stay stuck in the mistake. In fact, why call it a mistake when a shift in perception could view it as a lesson? Learn, learn some more and then move forward. Lessons come when we least expect them and growth ultimately becomes the perfect reward.

Permit mistakes to be your teacher. Allow the lessons that mistakes teach you to be your springboard to learning. Accepting that mistakes are just lessons in disguise offers you wonderful opportunities for serenity with personal growth at the core. Namaste

LIKE and FOLLOW Inner Peace Playground on Facebook

In Search Of: Serenity



INNER PEACE PLAYGROUND — We have all heard the saying, “Don’t make a mountain out of a mole hill.” Nevertheless, it’s something that most people do. Even those that do not like drama or chaos still find that they feed the demons in their head when it comes to certain things. It is easy to worry and to find things to fret about. Life can be tough, which makes it all that more important to not make it tougher.

With progress and innovation, success in many ways causes stress in others. In the same vein, having fears and concerns over the lack of good things that are going on also can cause an enormous amount of anxiety. Medical issues, aging, parenting, work, pain, grief, finances, relationships…..the list can go on and on. The important thing though is to remember to breathe and to truly grasp the concept that fear, anxiety or obsessively thinking about something doesn’t change it…..and it most certainly doesn’t change it for the better.

At any given time, the best thing that you can do is to breathe, relax through whatever is going on, to find gratitude in what you can and to believe that all will work out for your highest good. Serenity comes when you find peace in the unexpected moments and appreciate the molehills while making gratitude the sunshine that finds its way through to you.

Find and join the group Inner Peace Playground on Facebook.

Imagining Peace



INNER PEACE PLAYGROUND — Too often we wait for “just the right moment.” We go through life waiting and waiting. We tend to think that someday everything will just fall into place and we wait on that ultimate happiness, while throwing away the present moment. We’ve been conditioned to believe that when we find the “right” job, we find the “right” partner, we lose the weight, we get enough sun, we have the right friends, we have the dream car, when we can go faster, when things slow down, etc., that we THEN will have things “right” and as a result, feel at peace. We live in an illusion of peace being just beyond our reach, rather than by creating peace here and now.

While the world unravels with the most recent of tragic events and reeks of a lack of peace, you still can find peace from within. Most folks look for peace from the outside and as a result, they live without the inner peace that is readily available to them.

In memory of all who lost their lives because the world as a whole does not know peace, today is the day to have peace and to make peace with yourself. You, in all of your totality, hold the key to your happiness. Now is the future you waited for and now is the time to free yourself of the illusion of peace being just beyond your own horizon. Instead of putting off all that you want in life, breathe deeply, allow self love to embody you and embrace inner peace today.

The amazing thing is that once you are at peace with yourself, all of those other things that seemed so important will comfortably fall into place. You living in peace changes the vibration of the universe. Yes, you’re that powerful.

Embrace this moment, find peace within yourself and then share that with others. I promise you that when you do, you’ll feel the world change in the most wonderful of ways.

Please visit Inner Peace Playground on Facebook


Leave It Behind


It’s amazing how easy it is to look back and wonder “what if.” Looking back and honestly assessing your personal history can be helpful if you use the information correctly. The danger is that many people look at the past and then allow their mind to magically and falsely change history.

Comparatively, while looking back may be a necessary part of the growing process, it’s important to keep your eyes and your focus on moving forward. Going backwards cannot be an option. No matter how tempting walking backwards and trying to change the past may be, it can’t be done and offers nothing but pain and false hope. You deserve better.

You are on a journey and your life is unfolding exactly as it is supposed to be for you. One day at a time as the road continues to unfold for you, your mission is to enjoy it, move forward and continue to grow.

Allow the past to stay in the past. Allow The truth of your history to be a template from which you learn in order to have an even brighter future. Make the most of this very moment and allow yourself the freedom to fully be present. Release the past and embrace the moment to set sail on the most beautiful of futures. The best is yet to come.

-Alisa Levin (Inner Peace Playground/Facebook)

A musical journey from Springsteen to ‘Springhouse Revival’

Bruce and Van Zandt


The debut album from Springhouse Revival is called "Return to Nothing." (Photo by Mike Morsch)

One of the first guys I met when I started college in the fall of 1977 at Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa, was an upperclassman by the name of Duane Morrison. A bespectacled  Iowa farm boy, he was at an agriculture school to study . . . agriculture. Go figure.

Duane and his roommate, another upperclassman named Al Steinbach, lived right next door to me and my roommate Billy, in the dorms. A native New Yorker, Al apparently had decided to go to college in the heartland to study – best I could tell as a young, impressionable freshman – hillbillies. Since I lived right next door and appeared early on to be one of the new subjects of his study, he was in the right place.

The thing about Duane was that he had an advanced appreciation of music in 1977, especially vinyl. Duane and Al had the best record collection on our dorm floor, and whenever I happened by their room and the door was open, they’d invite me in to listen to records.

And nearly every time I went in there, Duane had a particular  artist on the turntable that he was absolutely enamored with. I had never heard of the guy, some dude from the East Coast. I’d listen to the record, but it really didn’t do much for me. I’d shrug my shoulders and politely shuffle my hick behind toward the door as Duane would encourage me to listen more closely and appreciate the music.

“You wait, this guy is going to be a big deal,” Duane would say.

The artist was Bruce Springsteen. The album was “Born to Run” from 1975.

I didn’t pay any attention then to Duane, and for many years after, on the topic of Bruce Springsteen.

Moving east in 2000 and a renewed interest in music over the past 15 years brought me to the Springsteen party quite late. And with the encouragement of a few close friends who happen to be Springsteen diehards, I’m now all in for The Boss. In fact, Steven Van Zandt of Springsteen’s E Street Band was interviewed for The Vinyl Dialogues.

One of those Springsteen devotees is my friend Gordon Glantz. He and I have been colleagues in the media business for years. Gordon is a brilliant writer so I am not unbiased when it comes to his work.

And now Gordon is in the music business himself. He and his song-writing partner, Terri Camilari, call themselves SpringHouse Revival and have just released their first album “Return to Nothing.” Gordon penned the lyrics, as well as arranged and co-produced with Glenn Barratt of Morningstar Studios in East Norriton, PA. Meanwhile, Terri composed the music and handled the vocals on this record.

If you’re in the suburban Philadelphia area, there is a “listening party” to debut the album on Sunday, Nov. 9, from 6 to 9 p.m. at Greco Roman Restaurant on West Main Street in West Norriton, PA. The public is invited.

I’ve come to appreciate the Philadelphia music scene over the years. There are a lot of great local artists putting out some pretty good stuff. They don’t get the recognition of the big-name artists, but they’re inspired people who are working hard, living their dreams and putting their creative efforts out there for people to see and hear. And I try to support their efforts by buying their CDs and attending their concerts.

I’m not a record reviewer, but I know what I like. And I like “Return to Nothing.” The release, which is available on iTunes and numerous other sites (CD Baby, Google Play, Spotify, etc.), features 14 original songs. Gordon’s lyrics are mature and sophisticated and Terri’s compositions and vocals perfectly complement the material. And they’ve hired some ridiculously talented musicians – such as guitarist Tom Hampton (another friend of mine), drummer Grant MacAvoy, cellist Michael G. Ronstadt, viola player Larry Zelson and Barratt on keyboards and bass – to help them make their dream come alive.

Gordon helped me see the light when it came to Springsteen, and that gives him musical credibility with me. So I’m happy to be in on the ground floor of support for his project.

Check it out when you get a chance. The SpringHouse Revival  website is There is a Facebook page was well that you can “like” for updates.

The Unspoken Us


“The Unspoken Us”  (By DANIELLE NIEMUTH)
It had been almost four years, and they’d both been through a lot. For him, the transition back to civilian life had been a rough one; it was something he was trying to figure out still. Every day was a struggle, and sometimes he wondered what the point was. For her, after years of being “the strong one”, it was difficult to remember she was still a young woman and even more difficult to admit that she needed others. Through it all, despite not seeing each other in person for two years, they had never stopped talking. At times his seemingly constant references to their sexual past frustrated her to no end. After all this time was that all he thought of her? That she had been a good fuck? Why then did he keep in contact with her? Sure, they’d made plans to see each other, but those plans always had a way of falling through, usually because he’d back out last minute. Maybe she was being naïve. Maybe the part of her that knew she needed someone, hell even wanted someone, had twisted his words into something they weren’t. But there were times when he would tell her the sweetest things – that she was beautiful, both physically and as a person, that she had changed his life for the better, that she had made him want to be a better man. Such emotionally charged conversations with him had been few and far between in the beginning, but as they became more frequent, they gave her what was, perhaps a false hope, but it was hope. That was more than she had had in a long time, and she was damned if she wasn’t going to hold onto that glimmer for all she was worth.
After years of them both dancing around the subject, they finally had a straight forward conversation about the unspoken “us” that had held them together for almost four years. As she got up the courage to ask him if he’d ever thought of them making a go at a real relationship, she prepared herself for the worst. After a short moment that in her mind seemed like forever, he responded that he had thought about it. In fact, he’d thought about it several times. There was that glimmer of hope again, but as she read further, the glimmer began fading in and out. Sure he’d thought about it, and sometimes he even thought they could make it work. But even after all this time, he didn’t know. His last statement was, “As a soldier, if I don’t know, I don’t do. I wait.” That was the line that hit her, and she saw hope come into full view. At his core, he was a soldier. So what would she have to do? She’d have to figure out a way to pull rank on him.
It didn’t take much planning, really; it just took a bit more daring than she was used to having. He had been foolish enough to give her his address months ago. That combined with the birthday present she had bought him and never been able to get to him made the perfect plan. After asking him when he would be home under the guise of wanting to video chat, she prepared for the day, regardless of its outcome. Her outfit and makeup were easy enough. Her hair, however, had a habit of not cooperating when she wanted it to, but by some stroke of luck, after years of trying and countless failed attempts, on that day she got her hair to hold a decent curl. Surely the universe must be on her side! With that, she set out for the day, gift bag in hand. Her first stop was to a local bakery to pick up a birthday cupcake. That was her “excuse” for going down there. She was going to make the most of it, even if he disliked celebrating his birthday. Plugging his address into her GPS and tuning the radio to a desirable station, she began the hour and a half drive. The closer she got to his hometown, the more she began second guessing herself, her hands occasionally shaking in hesitation. It took some time, but she eventually convinced herself that this was something she had to do, and no matter what the outcome was, she would be proud of having done this for herself. She arrived at 6pm, and drove past his house, noticed the lack of lights with mild disappointment and drove back to a convenience store she’d seen on her way. About twenty minutes went by before she drove past his house again, and still no one was home. As she sat in the parking lot waiting for the second time that evening she thought to herself, “Good. Now you’ve gone full stalker mode. Surely that’s an attractive trait.”
And then he messaged her saying that he was on his way home. She felt the disappointment quickly being replaced by excitement. A short while later he sent her a second message, and she responded by asking if he was home. Knowing that he was home or he wouldn’t have messaged her a second time, she slowly drove her car back to his place and parked outside. Taking a deep breath and gathering his present and cupcake, she exited her car and made her way to his front door. One more deep breath, and she had knocked. The seconds ticked by and she fidgeted nervously waiting for him to answer. Then the door swung open, and at the sight of him, she couldn’t stop smiling. Even as she saw a moment of shocked anger cross his face while he exclaimed, “What the hell are you doing down here?” she was too excited to feel the least bit concerned. He stepped out of the house, wrapping her in the tightest hug she’d felt in a long time. Internally she breathed a sigh of relief because in the moment before he stepped out, she realized that he might just close the door on her. As his 6’4” frame smothered her in his hug, she managed to mutter, “I brought your birthday present,” in response to his question. He laughed slightly and ushered her inside, apologizing for the mess.
After changing his shirt, and shaking his head at her several times, he asked what she wanted to do. She was at a loss. What did he mean, what did she want to do? She just looked at him for a moment before saying she hadn’t planned on doing anything. As she said it she realized how silly that sounded, and he again laughed, asking if she thought he was just going to take the present and then send her home. Well no, she hadn’t thought that, but then, she hadn’t really planned or even thought about what would happen after she showed up on his doorstep unannounced. She proclaimed this to him with a bit of exasperation in her voice. Did he think this was easy for her, taking such a risk? She was reassured by another glimmer of hope, this time in the way he was looking at her, almost like he was in awe. Several hugs later, he decided that he least he could do was take her to dinner.
So off to dinner they went, sitting in silence much of the drive, but neither could keep from glancing at the other and smiling. The first minutes of dinner were spent in hesitant silence. But then they fell back into conversation, laughing and teasing each other as if it hadn’t been three and a half years since they’d shared a meal. An hour of conversation after they’d finished eating, they finally left the restaurant. He decided to drive her around town, showing her where he had gone to school and the different places he spent weekends as a kid with his grandparents. Winding through the streets lit with holiday lights, they eventually made their way back to his driveway. 
As they began walking up the pavement, he pulled her against him, her cheek resting against his chest, and he placed his lips against the top of her head, holding her for a long time before pulling her face up to his for the first kiss they’d shared in two years. Her lips curled into a smile against his. This was the feeling she remembered, the one she missed. The feeling of being home in his arms. As he pulled his lips away from hers, he cupped her face in both his hands, his thumbs gently rubbing her cheeks, and he just looked at her. She could see all of the emotions passing over his face, his smile almost bittersweet, and she couldn’t help but frown slightly. Unable to muster her joyful smile again, she asked him what he was thinking. He opened his mouth to speak but stopped. His eyes closed for a moment and she felt him take a deep breath before he whispered, “I love you.” She was caught off guard, but despite not expecting him to say those words, only one thing crossed her mind, one thing that she’d felt for quite a while. “I love you, too.” He pulled her against him once more, and said, “I’ve loved you for a long time.” She simply replied with, “I know.”