World Peace Through Inner Peace

1480631_10154570029310230_2357686507537653468_nI arrive at the festival about 6 hours early. We have a sound check, sound check is cancelled. The band is in fine form – everyone happy in the park. I feel so lucky because my family is with me. My cousin and nephew. How unbelievably amazing that I am so lucky to have a family that likes each other so much that we want to hang out voluntarily outside of Christmas dinner and funerals.

We notice that the place is filled with extraordinary musicians from all over. No one knows us – we are the new kids on the block. I have a chance to talk to many people as the day unravels and one sound check is put off after another until we realize that there will be no sound check and we are just meant to enjoy the day.

As it went on, I had a chance to meet two people who gave me a great lesson I’d like to share.  The first was a man who, right away upon meeting me candidly admitted:

“I have been trying to be an artist my whole life and I don’t know what I am good at. I can’t paint, I can’t sing, I can’t play an instrument, I can’t write…I am lost”.

 

I don’t know – maybe its my hippie look but people like to get down to brass tacks right away with me and I really like that. They can tell I’m not much of a “talk-about-the-weather” kinda of gal.

So, I said to the man’

“Cool!  You’re a seeker”, I said smiling. He looked in my eyes and I could see he saw familiar recognition of someone else who had been in enough pain to do the hard work.   He told me more of his story – falling in love with a women, moving to Egypt, caught in the political uprising, converts to Islam, freaks out, comes back home.  Now shaken and still trying to find his answers in another person.

It’s all part of the trip we’ve all done it.  But at some point you realize that what you are seeking can’t be found outside yourself.

The man’s eyes fly open…”Yes!” he says. “Of course you understand – you’re an artist”.

Yes I am, and so are you.

Everyone is an artist and is seeking.  In fact it is our most important job in life to help others get their feet under them and do what it is they are meant to do. The best way to do that is to walk your talk and follow your heart.

Because the issue of depression has been top headlines lately, we have been talking allot about how to be responsible for our emotional state, which has led me to really see that people who “follow their hearts” may have troubles, may have “hard times”, may have challenges abounding – but they are happy. You have to wring every last drop of life out of this life – and we who are relegated to the classifications of “crazy artist, depressive, bi-polar” whatever – are the souls brave enough to step outside of the box and choose the unworn path.

I marvel when I meet someone who says to me that they are “not creative”.

What does this mean?  Did you stop breathing?

Everyone creates…all day all the time. When you got up this morning you made a choice…you got out of bed. This is where your “creativity” began. Every thought and choice you make after – is a separate creation. What you choose to do with it is entirely up to you.

We can create art, music, writing, food, wood working, architecture – those are obvious acts of creation.

We can create relationships, environments, situations, and futures. Having depression means being responsible for the emotions we bring into our lives. I don’t mean controlling the uncontrollable, but being aware when life is pulling your attention here and there is the key to a serene and amazing existence. In order be really responsible for our selves and our emotional health – it is important to know that every thought we have creates SOMETHING.

The ying and yang of it…

… resentment will CREATE heartache

…anger will CREATE turmoil

…violence will CREATE retribution

…Obsession with material gain will CREATE anxiety

…self absorption will CREATE loneliness

 

Everything you do say think and believe is an act of creation.

 

An act of Compassion will CREATE peace

…of Love will CREATE fellowship

…of faith will CREATE miracles

…of generosity will CREATE abundance

…selflessness will CREATE personal fulfillment

 

After I met the man who told me he could not find his “inner artist” I met a young boy only nine years old who had been blind since birth and was discovered by his camp councillors playing guitar on his lap. They videotaped him and put his song on Youtube and within a few days the video had gotten over 50,000 hits. So they invited him to play at the end of the set of the big headline act of the day.

Ego is all that holds back creativity.  The bad ego – the one that tells you everything is about YOU you you you you.

Imagine meeting an egoless being?  It is very rare.

But that’s what the little boy was in essence.  He child was the opposite of the creatively constipated man I had met earlier. He existed simply as unhinged creativity – music on legs…

No ego. No self – only music.

The magic began when he first arrived and he emerged from his limo that the festival had gotten for him to ride in, all beautiful and smiling. And immediately looking for something to play, body swaying rhythmically. I noticed he was holding a machine to his ear – music emerge from it as he rocked happily back and forth. He approached the table in front of the artists entrance, just a regular white plastic patio table. He couldn’t see the emerging crowd of curious spectators and artists were watching, now quiet, no one quite sure what to say or do. All these “big blues stars” – rendered momentarily mute and caught in rapt attention. The boy begins to bang on a plastic table finding a rhythm – rap tap tap bang rap tap tap bang …. The surrounding musicians couldn’t hold themselves back and soon one guy is singing beside him, another (my own drummer) is tapping out a complimenting double beat smiling widely beside the boy – looking like he might have at the same age. My owns hands found a big blue recycling bin and soon the best show was taking place outside the tent where the big bands were playing. Rollin and Tumblin, garbage cans, tapping feet, singing voices – and a boy smiling as wide as a crescent moon. He found his happy place – and brought us all along with him! This was transferred enlightened music – a real miracle.

 

I dubbed him little Blues Buddha.

 

I also realize that the man who had not yet found his creation – was also Buddha – a teacher. We need to be in both places to find where we want to stand.

 

I feel so lucky to have a chance in this life to completely be myself in all my creative weirdness. People think I am a great singer when they see us perform, but really what it is is I have been blessed with being surrounded by people who let me know clearly that I can do absolutely ANYTHING, and they will support me.   I think saying Im grateful is abit of an understatement.

 

Instead I will use gratitude as a verb and keep trying and doing and creating and moving forward. And if I am lucky, I will always keep in my mind the face of the Little Buddha who was all soul – as I trudge my own creative path.

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When we all find our creative space like this boy did – when people individually find peace inside themselves and a place to express through some form of creation (“making something new that has not been made before”) only THEN will the world experience global peace. One person and one life at a time – this is our responsibility and joyful obligation towards ourselves first – and each other.

Peace

 

 

 

 

 

The Math Of Music and Happiness

I think there is math in everything and so for fun, I am working on an easy to remember mathematical formula to understand why LIFE’S ups and DOWNS are completely necessary to your survival if you are a musician.

I CALL IT THE MUSIC-HAPPINESS FACTOR:

First please understand these meanings:

E(emotion)

L(life)

(G)M = great music

(B)M= bad music or bowel movement

Dr= depression

Cr= craziness

T = Truth therefore -T = dishonesty

Remember your high school algebra? Refresher rules…

  1. A number in FRONT of a letter makes the letter that much BIGGER!  for example 20B= 20 x B
  2. We always assume there is a 1 in front of the letter…it is invisible…but it is there…shhh…:) don’t argue.
  3. Is this getting weird? Is your brain bleeding? Did you know you use less than like 4% of it…hmmm

GM is made from an adequate amount of L which CAUSES  E which of course inspires the musician to create M. If the musician has (-)E then her ability to create M is actually increased and made positive since a negative carries though the function and resultingly, positive music is created…

for example, the universal formual for the Blues:

where…L+E=M

L+(-E) = -M

L-E=-M

WHERE -M = BLUES.

Which is actually the same as saying –E=M/-L

But we all know that music which is divided by LIFE becomes very hard to play.

If a musician does not have adequate +L and +E so L+E then she will become Cr because of Dr.

so

(-(L+E)=(Dr/Cr))= GM

This awesome breakthrough means that if the afflicted musicians can become aware of their Dr and Cr then they can switch it to the other side so the whole thing can result in GM.

this means that although Dr and CR can contribute to the creation of M they cant just stay where they are and expect a different result.

Awareness and shifting emotions – being accountable for how we feel – is how we are able to move –E TO –L AND CREATE A POSITIVE OUTCOME.

-E(-L) = M

In order to calculate what kind of music will result from having difficult life experiences which result in negative emotions, we must move LIFE over to EMOTIONS and let them be together so MUSIC can be positive.

By shifting and being aware of rebalancing difficult life experiences by moving them from one side of the equation or the other, for example, (-L) negative life experiences to the resulting (-E) challenging emotions (eg: anger, resentment, fear, etc) you cause a natural POSITIVE connection (good music)  between L+E since the double negatives render each other positive. Right?

I repeat – good music HAS NEVER come from sane people.

So we know that life can cause E which can make us all Cr and cause Dr but if you add M it will naturally  subtract Dr then you get G-D = Happiness.

My left brain is now bleeding.

Peace!

 

 

 

Just Thinkin…Life Has No Set List

park-chair-yarra-river-gapSometimes life as a musician brings me to places and situation which seem beyond fantastic and unimaginable I realized yesterday.  These are the adventures that keep me coming back to loving performing music with people wherever we go. It is my rush.  I have always loved meeting new and interesting (that’s everyone!) people- and I am particularly curious about cultural norms and behaviours. I love the way we as different cultures approach the same situation in different ways. Sometimes tDigital Universehis works to my advantage as I really enjoy adapting my own cultural “norm” to a new one I may be encountering. A “when in Rome do like the Romans” thing.

So yesterday at our private SoulFusion gig I was faced with a particular challenge as we were setting up in a parking lot in 125 degree weather under a deceptively comfortable looking “play area” designed and created by the plant manager of the company for his employees. It was a very different situation to play music in and try and decipher how a “set list” would go – if there were to be such a thing.  The man who hired us was a great lover of music and was someone who had developed a real love for the men and women he works for.  So much so that when he found that the culture of the company he had come into a few years ago was “all work and no play” he took it upon himself to create a more understand and relaxed atmosphere.  This year was the first year upper management had agreed to make a particular investment in the employees excellent positive response to this initiative and the hired Us.  Believe me when I tell you I was aware of the particular challenges coming into this gig – I just had no clue how much bloody fun it would be.

It’s not all glamour in case you thought that…

First we got lost so we arrived agitated, and late for set up. That’s never anyone’s favourite start. Then I had some real challenges…sort of. Except I don’t think the old days would have had all of the variety of faces and people I got to meet on this hot summer day in 2014. As we were setting up, I tried to look around and get handle on our audience so I can create a set list.  As I looked out at the sea of different coloured faces I realized that here was a bunch of people whose lives emerged from places that spanned the globe three times over.

There would be no set list. Big surprise.

Then I was struck by the amazing unlikelihood that we should all find ourselves in this place, drinking beer on a sunny Friday afternoon. Muslims, Jews, Christians, black, white, beige – most cultural versions of humanity were here and accounted for I think.   I wondered right away what it was in their lives they had to have gone through to come to this place, on this day in a hot sunny parking lot in a company just off the behemoth Labatt brewery factory.1175557_607235729326752_1461121346_n

This day was going to be a day of celebration – this is amazing. I thought to myself.

Incredible shit happens in the most unlikely places –

Indian men with beautiful colored turbans on their heads, smiling tables full of people from the Philippines, a new friend to play djembe from Haiti, office women dressed in pretty summer dresses, volunteers manning the BBQ’s while racks of delicious smelling food was served with a smile by upper manage to their employees.  It was warm and inviting and beautiful and all faces smiling.  I feel compelled to play music so…it begins acoustic.

Soon I see the crowd is FULL of people who MUST have danced or drummed or done some type of musical ceremony where they came from – but no one is dancing – they are being quiet and polite.  This is bothering me by the second set so I decide to get together with our drummer who is an amazing percussionsit, and we simply begin a beat. Him first – native sounding earthy tones on the Djembe beat against the ground and I crawl half shy onto the big drum kit. Dave our drummer nods to me to go ahead.  I don’t usually do that but I just felt compelled. My foot begins banging HARD on the bass drum – it feels great – amazing actually. Freeing and a little and letting loose in a way that’s different from when I am “front and center” – I can just close my eyes and feel the music like a meditation my heart settles down into a steady tribal beat on the bass and toms with Dave – eyes are closed…we are having a blast. Some of the men start to dance twirling with their arms as open as the smiles on their faces. Strong legs bend and flex in joyful cadence – Ah this is the best! Everyone was so together in this music – what an amazing feeling.joy

Then I made what I THOUGHT was a colossal cultural mistake. An Indian man came and threw money at my feet when I was dancing – and I was embarrassed so I plucked it up and ran to give it back to him red faced.

In my country when men throw money at you – its a sign of an unhealthy appreciation – I explained rather quickly.

He just smiled at me kindly and said nothing.

But I had stopped his joyful dancing. I had done something wrong.

I must have looked confused because his friend came and explained to my kindly –

“In India where we come from, when we throw money it is an appreciation and to way to protect you from poverty. We do this at weddings for beautiful brides too…” He smiled at me then kindly not like someone who is defiantly defending a cultural norm – as we who are Americanized are inclined to do (Rah!Rah!…blah…). Instead he was patiently explaining to me, because his ego was in check and he didn’t take my misunderstanding personally. What a revelation.

Some people use money not for the exchange of one thing for another – but for appreciation and expression. LIke a ritual. Amazing and beautiful all at once.  I am so grateful for the lesson and the kind way it was taught me.

I was so touched by the whole day.  It was a beautiful celebration of music and I really felt so privileged to be able to intersect with all these beautiful people, on that day in that time in that unli8kely place.

I remember saying to this amazing audience…

“Imagine what it is we all had to get through to get to THIS place today…it is incredible.  We were meant to be friends.”.  It really was how that all felt.,

We made music together, we ate together and we planned next year to do it all over again.

 

Once again the universe shows me clearly that if you follow your heart the pay back is simply unfathomable.stars-purple-light-wallpaper.jpg

 

Peace

 

 

Online Living: Are We More Concerned With Selfies or Self?

mona-lisa-selfie-2

Do you blog?

For some people blogging is a central theme to their day. Blogging as a sub-culture has emerged from the depths of online living.  I read a few blogs here and there but not many. In fact,  I wouldn’t actually consider myself a “blogger” like some I have seen; you know the ones who take selfies with their French toast actually have the ability to write 750 words on why it relates the second coming of the messiah or something deeply philosophical. That’s a talent I just don’t have.  Not that I couldn’t see myself becoming an obsessive overly-committed blogger if I don’t stay conscious; I have my addictive tendencies just like everyone else.

OK…I will admit to you that when something fun happens I no longer just think simply to myself;

“Oh…that was fun”.

No no… now fun involves a follow-up –

Take a picture…write a blog – a poem, a song…?? hunh?

“Oh..I have to post this!” God. I wonder what my grandmother would have thought about all this?

Sometimes we get so busy writing about our lives that we arent actually living them.  When I grew up, life was lived in real-time.  Oh brother…now I sound like my parents.

Back in my day….imagesCAMLIZPK

…when you had “issues”, big or small, they stayed at home! You didn’t post them or share them or even discusss them with someone who lived two blocks away, never mind the djembe player you met online three months ago who lives in Mali.   Back in “the day” neighbours on either side of you were only privy to what they could hear from the yelling through slightly cracked open windows. But now, with the online culture we exist in, people clear across three continents know when you had a fight with your husband even before it has ended! Not so long ago, there was a sense of “minding our own business” and there were rules!  The rules were expressly told to us and if we folowed them – everythign would be ok. I suppose this kind of living was comforting in one way but more likely it was incredibly isolating, lonely and inherently dishonest.

Online living is causing us to get all mixed up like a gigantic cultural soup.  We are living and learning and exchanging some pretty intimate details about our lives and how we deal events of living like death, divorce, children, parents ,relationships, emotions, understanding. These issues cross al cultural boundaries and even history and bind us all together in commonality.

 

But are we so focused on giving the world that perfect image of us – that idyllic selfie – that we forget to tell the truth about who we are or how we are feeling?

funny-selfie-dogs-smilingAnyways…who tells the truth anymore? Are we busy trying to give the world our best face? And why should we even bother to blog? Isn’t constantly writing about yourself some weird form of narcissistic self-obsession?

Sherwin Nuland would disagree. He was a brilliant professor from Harvard that said “The more personally you write, the more universal your writing becomes”. That coupled with what I read by the Dalai lama yesterday that said something like there should be no difference between your personal life and your private life. That would be dishonest. Not that I believe that we should all be sharing our deepest inner craziness all day – but there is something very helpful in the honest relating of how we deal with life.  Sometimes its just nice to hear that you’re not the only one going through the crazy shit we all go through.

Personally, I find it exceptionally difficult to come to the page when I am in the deepest depths of human misery.   I have been pretty silent since my mother died especially once I realized that the people reading my blog weren’t just anonymous readers from lands far away, but  more likely to be my family and friends. Grief is just not pretty. And all of that is so much easier to see in hindsight.

 

two-faced

My conclusion – its better to keep talking out loud and sharing our stories- even if its only to yourself…a one woman blog? Whatever – share what you are experiencing.  Life is hard enough – making what is hard useful which  kind of takes the edge off it all.

Namaste

 

The Quit Journey

got_choiceI have quit smoking again. This is day 2 1/2…I quit at 11:00 Monday morning – February 17.  I’d like to remember that day as the day I finally quit once and for all, so I am making sure to take note of it.

Two and a half (now two and three quarters, but who’s counting?) may not be a big deal to you but lately, I havent been able to go two bours without a cigarette. It’s basically all I think about for the past three years – since my mother’s diagnosis with lung cancer.  Terror is immobilizing.

In my dreams last night, I found myself with cigarettes in my hands all the time.  I kept walking entering each new situation and inadvertently finding myself smoking when I didn’t want to be.  It was incredibly frustrating and I kept throwing them out, only to find a new one growing back between my reluctant fingers.  When I would tell others in my dream

“But I’m trying to quit!”

They would just shrug and say,

“Yeah right…”-  an obvious reflection of the doubt I have in myself.

So – fake it till ya make it…

I for one am not very good self focused care – but recent events are teaching me that I can’t give away what I don’t have and so, I am on a mission to fill my own cup…a strange newish behaviour that has serious benefits.  Mostly,   it just feels good to do something healthy for myself and it is having an immediate positive effect on the world around me. I wasn’t ready to admit how much influence I have on the people I love most in the world.   The house is basically smoke free right now. Although I didn’t ask anyone not to smoke because I knew if I waited for all of the conditions of th world and the people around me to meet my fickle requirements for quitting, I would smoke the rest of my incredibly shortened life. I had to just go ahead and do it.  And here we are…unbelievable.

I guess if you’re lucky like me you hit a bottom before something tragic happens. For me it was the day I was going to the doctor for a check up for yet another winter lung infection, and I forgot my cigarettes at home  which actually caused me to feel relieved.  I decided that moment seemed like a good enough time then to stop and I would talk to the doctor.   I had been considering setting a quit date now for three years…but kept putting the actual “event” of quitting off for very possible reason under the stars.  The irony is that my greatest “stress” which was causing me to smoke, was my mother dying of lung cancer in front of my eyes.  Yet, even until I came to a point of wanting to truly be more kind and loving towards myself, even the worst of all scenarios would not move me away from this stark addiction.

I’d like to tell you it feels “hard” or “easy” – but it’s neither of these on this my third day. It just feels like a process…up and down…intense and reflective even. Once and a while I have a horrendous craving that makes me want to smoke gross dead looking things out our of ashtrays (which I have emptied because I dont trust myself).

I became tired of something other than me (a tiny chemical filled highly toxic stick on fire…really?) governing my body and telling my mind what I wanted.  I have spent my whole life trying to be independent of the direction and opinion of others, and yet here I was allowing a substancenot even a human ! – to direct my choices.  And the choice wasn’t even a choice at the end anymore – it was more like a zombie-like mindless self-imploding action.

1- Extend arm

2- Retrieve cigarette

3- Apply fire

3- Ingest poison…

4- Inhale deeply

Hunh?

I was singing at a bar a couple of weeks ago, and someone that I don’t know very well but who knew my variety of activities made some annoying passing remark as I was going out for a cigarette in -40 degree weather with death defying winds in a cold deserted parking lot.

He said

“Well that doesn’t seem like it suits you very well. It’s bad for your voice and not very zen eh?” He smirked like he knew something I didn’t.

My first thought was

“Who the hell does he think he is?” the voice of my habitual hippie that rejects authority in a regularly knee jerk fashion.

A minute later I was standing outside in the “smoker’s area”  feeling an ice cream headache explode over my entire face. As the wind came barelling at me at 90km an hour, I felt pain tear into my uncovered ears and in an final indignity, my nostrils stuck together in a  very unsexy way when I was throw into a spasm of coughing from lungs shocked and turgid with inhumane cold.  At that very moment, I peered into the big windows of the bar, my sad little orphan nostril stuck face peeting sadly into the warm bar where that same nosey man was sitting quite happily, warm, contented and snug as a bug in a rug as he listened to music and drank his beer. I thought to myself;

“I am an idiot”.

O.K. –  Maybe this is not the most gentle or spiritual thought to begin a journey with, trying to be on a more loving and compassionate journey with myself, but it is what it is. It was a real moment of clarity for me…

In retrospect I think maybe my bad habit have been destroyed by becoming more involved with meditation and yoga I my life.  Over the past few months and since my mother’s death I have become especially interested in Tibettan Buddhism.  Such a gentle culture, entirely focused on increasing the level of compassion on the planet. After reading the Dalai Lama’s Book “My Spiritual Journey”, I became convinced that the only way to being happy as an individual in this life was the adopt some form of practice which required self-discipline – but smoking was an obvious sign that I was lacking both mindfulness and self discipline. And this is where I got stuck – utterly convinced that I would never be able to really meditate or really focus on these principles because they all focus on BREATH…and I smoked.  I also felt like there could never be a day when I wouldn’t smoke – even subconsciously, I couldn’t envision a “me” not smoking.  I admitted defeat. I believe they call this a moment of surrender, but I only can see this clearly in retrospect.

Over time, this defeat didn’t sit well with me.  I began loosing my voice when I sang.  A combination of smoking, and heating in a very cold winter with electric and fire, as well as alot of indoor time because of the incredibly cold weather, my voice was shot and I had very little chance of being able to sing powerfully two nights in a row.  This felt like death approaching for me.

Not to mention that I saw my mother die of cancer in a really terrible and painful way quite recently.  This was a terrifying episode fraught with grief and loss which each cigarette only made worse, chiselling away at my guilt. Although intellectually I KNEW that cancer in her lungs was the ultimate cause of her death (second only to the chemotherapy that was the actual cause), and I also knew that this same cancer had caused me to have this exact experience with my biological grandmother when she died when I was 15 – and yet I was smoking. Each cigarette gave me a vivid flashback to times best forgotten – it was like torture.

I think it’s important for me to write my story – it makes me more solid in my determination. I think if I was still smoking, I would not read an article like this one though- it would make me feel too guilty and really highlight my feelings of powerlessness.  I hope if you smoke you got this far.  It’s worth it just to fill your mind with all the possibilities…and then one day you’ll be ready.

Here’s what I have realized…

    1. Today is “one day”      – You’re ready.
    2. Don’t wait for the      circumstances in your life to change like other smokers to quit or even      life in general to get easier.       That’s just not reasonable and it’s not going to happen. If you      wait for this you will smoke you’re entire life…which will be shorter      because you are smoking.
    3. Focus on loving      yourself.  People who smoke have an      obvious absence of love for themselves. You may want to argue with this,      but you really can’t do that AND be honest at the same time.  Maybe it works backwards.  I began by trying to eat better, and      this seemed to snowball into doing many things more gently and healthfully      for myself.  I don’t know how it      will work for you – only you know that.
    4. Quitting smoking is not hard.      Everyone tells us it’s hard – the media, the tobacco companies (yeah no      kidding), psychologists, teachers, friends, family – Jeez!  If you say something is DIFFICULT enough      well then yes,..it will be DIFFICULT. This is what we call self-fulfilling      prophecy. Quitting smoking has moments of discomfort – of needing to be      present and aware.  Quitting smoking      requires being really gentle with yourself       taking everything literally one breath at a time.  Hard is dying of lung cancer.  That’s hard.
    5. When you have a craving –    tell it to fuck off. I know…not very zen of me again, but it seems to be      working.  I know that discipline is      very important now – maybe that took all of my 47 years, but the kind of      discipline I am talking about is not what they taught in school which      should actually have been called “conformity” more      appropriately.  Discipline is a      practice that brings about self love.       Quitting smoking is a great act of self love.  |sometimes the ACTION has to come      before the change of opinion, but who cares?  As long as the result is more happiness      and peacefulness in life,. Keep your eyes on the prize, and remind      yourself WHO is in charge?  Is your      body in charge of your mind?  Do you      enjoy being told what to do?  Do you      like taking direction – especially when it involves you inhaling 200      deadly chemicals 30 times a day? Hell no.       Who does?   Yes you’re      addicted – but that’s not the end of the world – and IT’S NOT BIGGER THAN      YOU.

Who’s in charge here – me or my body?

    1. Pray. I’m not concerned with      the religious aspects of the way you pray, but be grateful.  Prayer is a conscious moment of the      expression of gratitude.  Let’s face      it,  quitting an addiction like      cigarettes will have many effects on your life.  Staying willing to not smoke is the      challenge.  I get cocky – way too      fast. It’s how I have failed in the past.       I start feeling better and decide to have “just one”,      maybe a puff or sneak a whole cigarette. There is a kind of victorious      feeling in this because for the first little while I feel like I am      smoking without addiction – like I have somehow regained control of this      derailed train. I can “just choose” to have one, or not – like      three times.  Quickly this unravels      and I soon find that I am smoking more than before I quit.  Then I feel terrible about myself, and I      resign myself to a lifetime of smoking and eventual gasping horrific death      by lung cancer.  No wonder I woke up      every day in a bad mood. This is a terrible attitude! 🙂 and snapping me      out of it I believe happened only by an act of grace – in other words,      something bigger than me thinks that me staying alive longer is a good      idea, and the minute I became willing enough to work with this      “something bigger”, things became clearer.   The ticket is in keeping up this      willingness.

7- DO NOT QUIT SMOKING!!

I don’t think quitting ANYTHING works because the minute you quit – you are focusing on the negative aspect. So, instead just have an positive intention to treat yourself with more love and compassion – loving-kindness.  Smoking falls away naturally this way.  You don’t need to fight anything or really put much effort into it.  You only need to have a willingness to have an intention for self-care and love.  Let go of what happens once you make that choice, making each choice in your best interest with your knowledge of self in mind.  Be ready to do some work – letting go doesn’t nmean effortless, it means diligence.

8- TELL YOUR STORY

tell others  and keep the people in your world up to date on your progress.  people want to help and function as a community. I’d say that helping someone to live longer is a great community building incentive.  Keep your “tribe” up to date! Telling your story also reinforces to you what you re doing, the direction you are heading in and can make certain instances that have helped shape your direction more clear and useful.  Moreover, you can end up helping someone else in the process. Telling your story is way more effective than becoming a nagging and annoying “reformed smoker”. You can’t change anyone – but you can certainly inspire them.

My day three diatribe from my wobbly soapbox…let’s see how this goes…:)

Peace

In This Moment – With love and gratitude.

“It’s time to go”, my husband John quietly says.

I stand up automatically, put out my cigarette and gather my things to get into his car. I am like a robot on the outside and my mind feels like it has been through a blender; I’m pretty sure I can’t handle what’s about to happen.  I’m afraid I will just dissolve.

I notice John has vacuumed the carpets – a sign of respect for what we are about to do that I find sweet.  He has been my rock and the ground beneath my feet through this.  My daughter Sara and her boyfriend get into the car with us and we are all quiet. There is no request for music.  It is a respectful silence.  Everyone looks around, but not at each other.  I try the radio a couple of times and quickly give up.

My chest is tight and I can’t stop crying. I try not to let anyone see. My practice reminds me that I am not in any pain really – other than my thoughts.  I am so tired of being sad and crying – I want to do something different so I try and become more aware of what my mind is doing.

The pain I am feeling comes from remembering how it felt to bury my father and the distant long ago experience of burying my first mother – my grandmother it turns out. The past creeps up like dark air just waiting to swallow you up if you don’t stay conscious and aware of the games your mind plays.  I remind myself that I am just driving in a car right now. That right now nothing is really bad.

“It’s just that my mother is dead and I feel scared and alone and terribly terribly sad”

– my mind throws in a little reality check.

How do I balance this?

I wrestle with my mind on how to justify what I believe spiritually – which is that we are all connected, that death is illusory and that consciousness exists past physical life. But the feeling of something like an empty cavern in my chest where my heart has cracked open is obvious to me and the whole world.  I am unsure of what to believe anymore. But I can see the worry and love in the people around me. My wound is obvious. I try to keep my head together as the car rolls towards the funeral home.

I remember suddenly that it made me feel better to listen to Paul Simon’s “Graceland” on my way to my father’s funeral, so I load it onto my phone and sink into the music. My mind quiets.  I have so much fear of falling into pieces and being no use to my kids or my sisters who are in terrible pain.  Behind the scenes of my mind, thoughts of the day’s upcoming events unravel.  There will be allot of people and I have a last chance to be my mother’s daughter.  I will be present and make my family proud.  

We arrive on the heels of “Diamond’s on the Soles of Her Shoes”.  I turn off the music as my husband parks in front of the funeral home.  We unload musical gear.  I remind myself how absolutely unprepared I am for organizing the music and all the things that have to happen. I don’t feel nervous though.  I am suddenly aware of a feeling of quiet confidence that everything will be ok. I have faith in my mother, my friends and my family.

Let go and let God”, I hear her say in my mind.

I imagine all that she would say to me then.  “Easy does it”, “Breathe huny”, “Just do your best”…

I am there for her and the people who love her.  The pressure lifts.

I enter the funeral home and see a group of people in front of me, but I don’t know any of them. I didn’t realize there were two funerals.  Those can’t be our people – those people look very sad.

A sign points to upstairs indicating that there is a celebration of my mother’s life.  I go upstairs where only my immediate family is sitting.  The room is quiet as John and I descend upon the quiet scene with our immense family.  Our kid’s energy enters the room and things lighten up.

We set up the movie I have created of her and my family and her friends. It took me six long days and it was a grueling process of excavating not only physical pictures but a complete overview of my entire life and everyone who has ever been a significant part of it. During the process I half laughed with a good friend saying that if I hadn’t resolved my past after ALL this, than I was completely without hope.

The rest of my kids come in and we watch the movie together, as a family.  We criend and laughed together as we remembered all of the events that went with the 65 years of memories on the screen.  The memories that made us the people we are today.

Over the days between my mother dying and making the movie I laughed but mostly I cried.  I cried buckets and buckets of tears.  My eyes became swollen and infected and at the funeral I found myself looking slightly Quasimodo-ish.  One person asked me if I got punched.

The result of the movie was beautiful though. I didn’t know it would be like that. After the private family viewing people came in throngs, waves one after the other, all gathering around the screen and able to spend time with her and all the good memories in her life.

She had a special musical request right before her passing – that we play “It’s your Thing” by the Isley Brothers – so I added it to the video with as many silly pictures as I could find.  People were smiling and laughing because they so deeply understood what she was telling them.

I see my family around me.  My brothers I hadn’t seen in the same room for so long only because of circumstance and not a lack of willingness. We all really love each other.  There is a loyalty and a pride in being family that we share. I sense the friendliness and a feeling of unity with all of us.  It feels good.

Our cleaning lady from many years ago arrives smiling. She looks beautiful.  People arrive more and more – we share stories and tears and hugs.  This is very healing.

Time has flown by and it’s time for the ceremony.

I am a little overwhelmed as we enter the chapel. I’m not quite sure what to do. Unbeknownst to me, the two friends who were supposed to sing and play the main song at the ceremony had still not yet arrived because they set up at the wrong funeral home and were sitting beside an unknown person whose name rhymed with my mom’s family name.

We enter the chapel; I make my way through more hugs and touches of support on my shoulder.  I look behind me quickly to see where my family is. My brother and his sons are beside my friends – I love that they are meeting.  My children are in the front clinging to their partners and friends.  I am grateful for the support the Universe has sent their way.  I see them quiet and dignified – this is their Nanny.  A very difficult loss for them.  My heart is washed with love and respect for their quiet courage.

I sit beside my sister – my mother’s identical twin sister. Her sadness is palpable and I wish I could take some of it away. But that won’t ever be possible.  She is beside my stepfather. I am overwhelmed with concern for them both and I once again release my fears to my Higher Power and pray that they get what they need and the comfort that only and act of Grace can bring.

The Archbishop is presiding over the services.  I like this man. I had met him as we were preparing the funeral arrangements. At first, I was wary of anyone who be of “high office” in any church or religion – it is arrogant of a person to claim they can talk to God or on God’s “behalf” better than we can for ourselves.  But he isn’t like this.

I asked him how we can all learn to become “Excellent”, because as the Archbishop he is referred to as “Your Excellency”. A challenge he handles with deference and humour –

“I don’t know, but as soon as I figure it out, I’ll letcha know”. He said with a gleam in his eye.

Very good.

We wanted some form of a Set list or organization for the music at the funeral, but I just knew in my heart that it was not something we could “organize”. It would be fine – I reassured him. God would take care of the music.  Imagine me saying that to an Archbishop?  He smiled-maybe at the irony- and nodded, writing a note or two on his pad.  I think I made him a little nervous with my “hippie ways”, but in the end, he had faith.

The ceremony begins…

Father Barry enters the church saying something about Celebrating the end of a life…we stand…we sit. He recites a passage from Ecclesiastes; “To every thing there is a time…”

The Bible’s long version reminder that everything is changing and that change is the nature of our existence. Yes. My mother would have said the same thing.

People are crying all around me. I like this. It means there were so many people that loved her that she is loved and missed.  I have never been to a funeral where I felt so much love.

It is time for the dedication speeches.  Jack gets up. He’s an Irish-New Yorker straight out of a Mario Puzzo movie. He always reminded me of my brothers in his funny sideways man-humour and gentle gruffness.  He has been very good to my mother and step father and has shown his love in so many tangible ways with his wife Louise. Our family is extended and huge.  His speech is brave and beautiful and ends with the Irish Prayer –

May the Road rise up to meet you

May the wind be at your back…

There is not a dry eye in the house when Jack is done.

Diane gets up next.    My mother’s dear friend over the past many years and someone she loved like a daughter.  Love and loyalty pour from her words and I smile at how I see the impression of my mother’s energy on her.  Her influence of wisdom and the guidance she gave her will not be lost because she will do what my mother did for her for another woman.  This is an awesome legacy – more than money or fame or power – for those things disappear instantly with your last breath.

Here is a little more from father Barry. He speaks from the heart about his own loss of the wife he loved last year- a woman who suffered with MS and then died of cancer. I respect his words because he speaks from his heart and I listen carefully because I know he speaks the truth.  He looks at me and gives me a smile to begin music.  I go up and realized that the friends doing the song are still not here, so I pick up my guitar unsure of what song to do.  I look at the Chapel filled beyond capacity and only feel love.  I like the quiet and I decide not to rush.  I play gently until something comes to me. Other musical friends I see are scrambling for their guitars and trying to figure out what I am playing. Suddenly I see Sonja and Roger come in.  I begin to sing Amazing Grace. George comes in wearing a top hat and a smile.  I hear Sonja’s voice. I don’t know the second verse – I realize only halfway through the first. I feel surrounded by angels and light and beautiful things.  I drop off and on cue, Sonjka picks up the second verse and brings the whole chapel back to singing the first together at the end.

I knew it would be ok.  We would will all just fall into step with each other like people who have walked a long road for a long time do.  I hear David pick up the small bongo’s and a steady beat keeps me moving forward. That’s what friends do. They keep the beat going.

I am singing. I hear myself. I can’t believe it. Just a few hours ago I was trying to figure out how I would even just be in the building and be able to speak to people.  But, in this moment, I am feeling JOY…I mean, my heart is filling up past capacity!  I hear all the other voices, Sonja and roger and the other guitars come in with the heartfelt timing of angels. I look around to make sure my brother can hear because this is beautiful music and I really want him to feel it. He is standing up at the top balcony and I can see smiling.

I don’t feel sad.  I feel my mother – so happy with us.  Smiling and I know that THIS is exactly what she would want. We ALL know it.

So we are happy and sad all at once – together. And that’s ok too.

The ceremony goes on, I give my eulogy and I feel the words and thoughts come easily from the written version to words from my heart.  I had been careful only to write my eulogy once. I didn’t edit or draft it. I just wrote it.

I wanted everyone to remember what she would want us to remember.

Her last word of Love…

I let her speak through my heart and I stepped out of the way. It felt good.

My eldest daughter Meagan gets up and surprises me. She speaks of love for her grandmother and on behalf of her brother and sister, with whom she has a tumultuous and loving relationship.   She is smiling when she sits down. It helps to tell everyone how much you loved someone when they pass away.

We had a final song set up but I wasn’t sure when to do it, but it didn’t matter.  I would follow father Barry. But when he gave me the sign to set up a final song, I changed my mind suddenly from my original “plan” and announced “set list change” to my friends. They all laughed – big surprise. I have never been able to follow a set list in my life. Why should now be any different?   They were prepared J and did “In My life” by the Beatles.   A special request I felt from on high.

We laid her to rest in a beautiful illuminated cubby hole in the Chapel wall.  We can go and visit her ashes any time we want. And the funeral director told me I could bring my guitar and take advantage of the awesome sound in that place.  I love that we can go and be with her and focus on her like this.  It’s a beautiful ending to a beautiful life.

I woke this morning feeling “in my body” for the first time in a week.  I know this is not going to be easy. After a funeral and death there is a long process of understanding how to be in the world again without the physical presence of someone you loved.

Yesterday, when people would ask me how I was, I would do a quick check and answer honestly;

“In this moment, I am well”, because, whenever I remind myself of where I am standing in this moment – really, I am well.   I will have to do that allot in the next while I know.

I speak to my mother all day. I hear her answers clearly in my mind and heart. I don’t doubt her voice, because I came from her and she taught me well.

She is continuing to be a good friend and I feel the love right now, in this moment.  But when have those hard moments where I feel only the loss, I will have the celebration of her life and the feeling of extraordinary love and togetherness that came from that day to bring me back to myself.

In love and gratitude.

 

On Awakening Your Bliss

421350_10150574121483114_693783113_8805972_1062905027_nI have been very quiet on writing lately for an ironic reason – it seems that the more I learn – the less I have to say. The more I understand – the less I know. Wisdom teaches me that we are all on a path towards a new understanding of ourselves and the world, but that this path can’t be brought to us or taught to us, that it can only be experienced personally. In other words, anything I would say could only be a shadow of what you can come to understand about yourself using your own experience.

Years ago, during a particularly difficult time in my life I had an strange and transcending experience which at the time felt very unique and made me feel a little crazy. I immediately took it upon myself to began to write a book about this experience. The reason was that what had happened to me had completely changed the way I saw and perceived my life. The way I made decisions, the way I used my intuition and the underlying reasons behind everything I did changed. I felt incredibly lonely at times, so I would write a book that would help others who “shifted” in this way to know that they weren’t alone. That they hadn’t lost their minds.

The experience created in me a feeling of intimate connection to everyone and everything – The All – it felt like JOY. It gave me a deep understanding that we are all the same thing. It told me that time itself is a precarious thing and that the very fundamental and very real reason we are all here is to discover our inner “thing”, our talent -our strength. What it is we have been given by the Source that created us that can be of benefit to this symbiotic place in which we reside. Is it some form of creawtive expression? The ability to heal? The desire to fix things that are broken? To create new things from old ones? To Feed people? What is your bliss?

I discovered my own spaces of joy through many desperate fumbling acts and moments of fearless jumping off. Music and animals, nature and children are the things I deeply connect to and that I feel completely ALIVE with. These are what feed me and in turn feed the people I am with. When I play music, or draw or paint or teach a little kid about horses or listen to a teenager – I feel in a space of timelessness. I am not thinking about yesterday’s problem or tomorrow’s fears…I am in a current state of being. Being present for people is the most important thing we can do.

Many of us talk about finding the purpose of our lives, and yet we go on every day either to doing jobs or activities we hate or not finding the gratitude in what we have. We mistakenly believe we are stuck in our circumstances when we all have a deep need to discover who we are and why we are here. The answer is no more complicated than doing what you love and using your bliss to connect to others and create something good in the world. It is that simple. But the way you get there and to really understand this in your heart is different for each person.

My “new eyes” see that the world is in quick deterioration and that the best thing we can do is to become aware that understanding ourselves as individuals deeply from within is paramount for ourselves, one other and the planet. We have to stop focusing on trying to fulfill our personal human desires – and start understanding our very real needs. Our need for fulfillment and joy, for peace and community. Face it, no matter what we think or have been told about other cultures and all of the insanity happening in the world today, at the end of the day every single human being, from the old lady in New York City to the ten year old boy in Africa – wants the exact same thing; they want to be happy, they want to feel secure, they want food, shelter clothing, love and companionship. That’s it. And we know that we HAVE the resources for this to be for each person on the planet. So why aren’t we doing it? We live in illusion. We want “proof”. But what is proof? We have no time to “scientifically analyze” all of these things. The level we need for understanding is BEYOND the level of our minds. The mind is nothing. Just a representation of what our ego wants to believe about the world.
We need to understand this and to just jump in two feet, faith first, and make different choices, on an individual level which will effectively contribute to helping us balance our needs with the needs of the planet. In other words, the kinder and more compassionate and present you are with yourself – the more you will be able to do this with everyone else.

We ARE each other. I love the interpretation of the Hindu religion which says that the physical self is held together by sound waves – specifically the sound “Om” – which is the “sound of the Universe”. There are many old beliefs, even ones that predate the bible, that support theories that science is only today beginning to observe, such as quantum particles existing beyond measures of time, and Einstein’s String Theory which attempts to proves that we exist on different physical planes all at the same time. There are very ancient beliefs in Mayan, Egyptian, Celtic and other ancient cultures that had long ago defined these beliefs. We are at a time and place now that is beyond science, and is calling for us to access places within our selves which are beyond that mundane analysis of science, and which demand that we connect to heart and spirit and source and EACH OTHER, most importantly.

We need a change of attitude! We have seen our powers and capacity for destruction, but really I can’t wait to see what that looks like when we turn our powers for GOOD. It will be an awesome experience to being all the good we have within each person to the ultimate level of expression.

I am one of those people who believes this is possible. I believe that it is possible for the world to rise above itself and find its higher purpose – its greater mind.

This is the last thing I will say 🙂 – There is a stark difference between desire and need. desire is driven by something we think we are lacking – something that is not fundamentally important to who we are as a person, but is instead detracting from ourselves. Needs are exactly the opposite – needs are those things that support you being the highest version of yourself. Being aware of our needs and fulfilling them will ultimately and necessarily lead to finding and using that highest creative self we are given.

I don’t think there is a need for a ANOTHER book on this subject. There are plenty out there I have discovered. Everyone will find what they are looking for differently. And if what I am writing sounds like lunacy to you, then maybe it’s not for you right now 🙂 But, I believe there is a need for dialogue and opening community for this kind of exchange. It certainly can’t hurt anything worse than it already is.

Peace

.

Magic of life ~ Ajna

third_eyeSixth Chakra Thoughts…

Over the course of the past 6 months and through all of the stages in each of the chakras we have studied, I am discovering that there are certain common conclusions we have arrived at.   First, we have concluded that our lives are ever-changing and the more we learn about ourselves the more empowered we become to understand what we do and do not have control over in our lives.  In order to live a peaceful happy life, knowing what is and is not in our control, what we can and cannot help or hinder – is critically important to our peace of mind.  In other words, we are finding that recognizing where our “powerlessness” lays, can give us a real opportunity to use a greater power that resides within each of us. That is; our intuitive power.

  • Intuition is the power or faculty of attaining to direct knowledge or cognition without evident rational thought and inference (*Merriam-Webster Dictionary Online)

albert-einstein-intuition1

 

STUDYING CHAKRAS HELPS US TO BECOME MORE CONSCIOUS AND AWARE ….

KNOW YOUR POWER! When I ask what the most important thing in their lives many women I have spoken to have answered that it is the happiness of their children.   I often reflect on this answer because, I know it is the socially acceptable answer. I was raised in a way that taught that a good mother was self-sacrificing and gave it all up for her children. However in the raising of my own cornucopia of kids – I didn’t quite see it like this.  And I loved them enough to follow my intuition as best as I could.  It became apparent that I couldn’t teach them what I wasn’t doing for myself.  I couldn’t tell them to go and do what made them happy – if I was sitting at home all day unfulfilled crying with depression.  I also discovered that obviously I couldn’t MAKE them happy as I had tried and failed repeatedly and miserably.

I could only show them the way. But how do you show someone the way to go somewhere you have never been?

This meant that I had to get MYSELF happy – make my own path and find the things in my life that brought me bliss.   This was a difficult transition for my family at first because I stopped doing some of the things I was doing which I wasn’t enjoying. They were older now and could handle this.  I decided only to do things for people for the right reasons.  Doing it because I was expected to just wasn’t working for me. I had created that expectation after all. SO, now I would uncreate it. For example,  I stopped cooking dinner unless I wanted to for the right reasons.  I began meditating every day and became centered into my “self”.  And my kids – now older, are gracious and centered simply awesome human beings – who can all cook really well.  They seem to be easily and quite naturally in touch with their own sense of intuition. Centered inside their being, they don’t have the issues my generation had of “finding” themselves. Ask any one of them – they will tell you exactly where they are.

Intuition is that aspect of our selves that can help us make decisions based on something greater than the sum total of our conscious and unconscious thinking.  Intuition is a directive from the Universe.  It is a strong guiding feeling that can lead us to a more serene and peaceful way of living and seeing our lives.

 

good_facebook_timeline_covers_Horse_Silhouette

Horses live within a constant sense of their own intuition. Because animals in general live in the moment, existing not in the past r future, they are so finely tuned with their intuition that they do not have the capacity for rational thought.  Rational thought, for a horse, or any other animal, surely mean death. In this retreat will practice some free journaling and writing practices in the field with the herd, introducing awake meditative and silent observation with a focus on BE-ing like a horse…in presence.

lily and jo in arena

For a human, “rational thought” is often the greatest impediment to connecting with the Ajna.  These thought bring us doubt fear remorse guilt and a variety of other un[productive unconscious emotions.  Intuition assists us to become conscious of these feelings. Intuition becomes blocked by things like fear, jealousy, anger, resentment. That is why doing the work that we have done on the previous 5 chakras is so important.  One thing leads to another and with the release of each newly illuminated aspect of yourself, you will find your intuition open in ways you could never have imagined.

Intuition is the magic of life.  It is our co-creative potentiality. Our formal interplay with the Divine.  We were created to have this exchange, and so, Buddhist philosophy would say that each experience in your life which has caused you distress and thus to change and shift, has moved you ever closer to this place of higher connection between you and the source that intended you into being.  It is a truly awesome experience to feel that communion.

At first trying to listen to our intuition can lead to all sorts of interesting outcomes.  It can be hit and miss, because just like every other conscious skill it must be practiced and applied in a wide variety of life experience for you to begin to trust your own self and what you feel and hear within.

Maybe it come sin the form of a random meeting, a phone call, something you read, a song on the radio or just a sudden thought or idea in your head – intuition can speak to you in innumerable ways.  All you have to bring with you is the willingness to listen and the door is open.  You will see that meditation and quiet is very key to connecting with this source within yourself.

I remember when I first became aware of wanting to try to make choices with my intuition –   I rashly quit a good job because I “felt” there was something else calling me.  The phone didn’t ring. Neither did the doorbell. There were no “signs” there was nothing. Just the angry lady at the unemployment office every week. Sadly – or so I thought –  I remained unemployed for about 6 months as I watched a disastrous unforeseen econimic plunge in the job market hit Canada eventually leading me to a lower paying which I soon left actually – for an entirely better life! My intuition told me that something would happen – but what happened was not at all what I expected.  Our expectations are often a source of conflict within us.  In using our intuition we have to learn to ‘Do the footwork and let go of the results”, as my mother is fond of saying.  If you can practice this, then I guarantee you the results will be better than any you could have imagined.

Life is magic.

When things seem to be falling down all around your feet, instead of keeping your head down and staring at your shoes, you may want to try just being present and aware of your body, just take a breath and a moment to not be in your head.  Stop your thinking by focusing on your thoughts.  Just let them pass, and allow yourself to be reminded that YOU are not in charge and YOU will be guided to your next place.  You don’t need to control everything. Actually, you don’t need to control ANYTHING. Do you believe me? Are you relieved?

When times are rough – this is when you should make the greatest effort to make no effort and to just BE.  Sit still – and don’t react, don’t make decisions, don’t have conversations.  Just be.  And have faith that the Source that keeps everything spinning and turning and working in one gigantic amazing synchronous mass – can manage your hydro bill or your marital problems. You don’t need to fix it al today. Ahhh….what a relief! 🙂

Intuition will come to you as you quiet within.  In this retreat we will focus on some pituitary yoga practices which help us to focus on the Ajna chakra.  Our menu will include the colors indigo and red to keep us connected to root and source.

Intuition is the magic of life.  Enjoy your day.

~Namaste~

About Drunks in Bars…

bridge starsWas it a CRAZY moon this weekend? I know the full moon has an effect on folks, although science says that’s not true one day we will find out that once again, “science” was wrong.   This weekend was definite proof of insanity caused by the moon.

As a singer, I see lots of different kinds of people. When I go to work, I usually meet drunk people, sober people – and mostly all very kind people.  Then again – I rarely work in the big city.

Friday night I had a big gig with myt friend Bill at a restaurant/bar/microbrewery where it seems that everyone was under 20.

The people were almost as beautiful as their cars. Everything was shiny and smelled like an onslight of perfume too expensive for a 20 year old.   Full moon or friday night can be blamed maybe for the level of drunkeness in the place.  It seems it is popular there to have your birthday and then drink to the point of vomiting. Sounds like fun?

Friday was bad. First I was accosted by a drunken teenage girl, who was apparently celebrating her birthday but a the rate that she was drinking would probably not see a ton more.  After slinking around the stage a few times looking for attention, she launched herself unceremoniously onto the stage and began talking in the musician’s faces. I had to make it clear to her that her night would go very badly if she didn’t get off my stage and stop bothering everyone.  It made me angry and annoyed. I stepped forward towards her, she continued arguing. She looked younger than my kids, so I bent down and got “motherly” with her.  I suggested that she stop behaving like a moron and  walk away. I think she saw I was serious.

She slurred

“I work here”…

I said ,

“Not for long”…

What amazed me was that my reaction to conflict was very different than it had ever been in the past. In fact, I noticed that my heart rate didn’t even increase. Honestly, despite my “night job”, I’m not used to violence or anger like that. Where I live we play music because it makes us happy, and generally people come to the music because they want to feel good. I dontthink this crowd was the same. I felt like I was on a movie set it was all so unreal.  Then, when I returned to the same place the next night for a second show, I was optimistic that such a disasterous evening could not repeat itself. I was right. It could however –  get wor

Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting? But…I’m a Hippie!!

Arriving early, everyone was at the stage setting up and the musicians greeting each other. We all hadn’t played together in many years, so it was a little like a reunion.  I noticed behind me a long table full of rowdy men. The place was packed, and these guys were dominating the energy.  A stag party, I quickly ascertained.

Soon after our arrival one of the members of this group came to us pretty drunk, asking if he could play a song for his friend who was getting married. I told him straight out that if he was too drunk, he couldn’t come up, but if he could behave and prove he wouldn’t destroy our instruments or puke on stage, he could.  I told him that I would decide when the song would happen and that he could go back to his friends, I would call him up.  He didn’t seem to like that I was taking control of the band…which is my job.  He walked towards me like a young horse with no discipline or boundaries.

“So,  you the big boss or something?” he said to me, taking a step forward into my space agressive and impolite.

“I sure am”, I said looking at him squarely in the eye and not giving an inch.

Then he made a terrible choice.

He took a quick step to be beside me, and then before I could say or do anything, he launched his arm around my shoulder pulling my face to him and crushed his lips on my cheek in an angry way. I had never been kissed angrily before. It was a violent uncomfortable feeling.  I was immediately repulsed.

My hand fleew up and pushed on his chest and without really touching him much, felt all my anger and shock pour out to him and he stepped back.

“You’d better go now or this will go bad for you”.  He gave me a victorious smirk like he had gotten somethign I didnt want to give him and now I couldnt take it back.  I was angry and confused.

I got on stage and started the first set quietly.  It is a restaurant so we generally begin quietly so that people eating aren’t unable to speak over their meals.

We began with Ain’t No Sunshine, a song I enjoy playing acoustic on.  Within seconds the drunk man was back at the stage demanding to come on. I could feel the band behind me getting irritated. I told him no and to move back.  I repeated that when I wsa ready I would call him.

When he continued to persist I leaned over and said past the sound:

“You’re too drunk to be on my stage”. I said firmly and finally. Then stood up and continued to play the song.

“YOUR stage?…bitch.”…he said.  I have met men like this, who don’t like women with any sense of personl power.  They are few and happily far between, but I could smell this one like a dog in the bushes.

The next thing that happened reminds me of a good volleyball strategy, where players set up in a strategic triangle and the ball is handled three times before being enthusiatically spiked to a victorious finale.

At first, he stood in front of me and tried to get on stage and I pushed him off and he stumbled to John my husband playing rhythm who in a quick move he pushed him  harder to the leftwhere he stumbled incomprehendgly landing him in front of my bass player who took one defintive step forward and uncermoniously launched the guy three tables away. It was over.

The song stopped and the bass player gave the guy brief but insistent instructions as to what he could do with his own personal anatomy.

What a night.

I spent all day yesterday recouping my energy from all of these events.  I felt like I was sucked dry.

The irony is that i am supposed to be working on fifth chakra “setting boundaries an dexpressing needs” this month, and it seems like the Universe is making it evidently possible for me to practice the elements of this chakra in everything I do.  Big challenges all over the place.

The difference between being in a spiritually focused place and not, is that I see these situations as opportunities to pratice what I am learning. I certainly don’t see them as coincidences – that’s for sure.  But the willingness to see an opportunity for spiritual understanding does not supercede the fact that I was completely freaked by this.  The differnece is I was interested in WHY i was freaked out.  What was the thought behind the emotion? I was angry.  In fact I think I was angry on behalf of women EVERYWHERE who can’t go into a bar or social situaiotn without being on guarD.

Someone actually said to me (jokingly) that night it all happened because I was dressed “too damned hot”. Really?

Here’s what i think.

Women should be able to go anywhere, anytime wearing anything, kooking as hot as they possibly can – without feeling like they are being preyed upon by some moronic jackass who obviously has some lacking moral fiber. Some filament of goodness that God just hasn’t installed yet. Maybe he needs an update?

Dear Men,

Here’s the deal.

Then we all go to these places and we play – we assume roles and we have fun with them.

That’s the good part. But then you have a terrible habit of screwing it up. This comes from an unfortunate feeling of entitlement our culture has taught you. When you begin to think you have some kind of right to us because we are dressed up – like we did it for you personally and not for ourselves (which is your first mistake) then we have a problem. A big one.

Even though I work in bars, I rarely (never) get treated like a piece of meat – which is exactly how it felt. You would think it is more common, but not really. I thought I was pretty good at setting my boundaries. Plus we play often in the country, and it seems there is an entirely different mentality when it comes to going out on a saturday night.  Less craziness from people who are connected to the land. City people are wacko. Im sorry…but it’s true.

Even so, I have become pretty mellow – or so I tbought. I was surprised at the strength of my reaction to this.  I live today in an environment where I am surrounded by friends and family and even strangers who are gentle and kind and loving.  This exposure to what someone referred to as “the real world” shook me.  What is it I have been missing, because those kids were a mess.  I thought the world had come further I think and so standing there feeling like I was in the middle of a bad Mad Max remake, was unsettling to say the least.

After the guy “kissed” me, I felt the impression of his face on my face for hours.  It was like I couldn’t wash him off me.  I tried to identify what it was that had left me with an impression. Was I taking this personally?

Sort of. I took it personally on behalf of women everywhere.

What is it that makes someone think they have some entitlement to you?

I become resentful, maybe I am emerging as an old feminist, but being in a bar, and even when I am on stage and men look at me as though they want to eat me for lunch.  Phewf.

I see again how my horses are instrumental in their teachings.  I was able to handle this situation calm and with no amount of feeling it personally. I felt it as “energy” and not “an event”.

I love when life throws me little satires that help me see where I am along my path.

I wrote three songs after all of this.  This is a big deal – I havent been able to get a song out of me in 6 months.

For all of you ladies out there – here are the lyrics for the blues standard I wrote inspired by this fine gentleman…

🙂 enjoy!

(Blues standard in E)

I called it “GET YOUR HANDS OFF OF ME”

🙂

You saw me come in the front door

ANd I saw it in your eyes

It wouldn’t be very long

Before you’d try to waste my time

Did you think your smelly drunken drawl

had some kind of appeal

I think that it might be time,

for you to get real.

CHORUS

Get your hands off of me

Who the hell do you think you are?

Get your hands off of me

Didnt your mama raise you right?

Get your hands off of me

You ain’t gettin lucky in this bar

Get your hands off of me

Unless you’re looking for a fight

Ref: you’d better take a quick step back

or I’m gonna give you a heart attack

Maybe your mama rejected you

when you were just a child

Or daddy spanked you once to hard

and then you just turned wild

I ain’t got nothin

I want to say to you

You’re not worth a minute

But if you keep talkin in my face

You’ve put your two feet in it.

CHORUS

I’m not gonna waste my time

on your narrow little mind

So turn around and walk away

Maybe –  you’ll be just fine

CHORUS

Take a some time

and take a breath

and  go out for a walk

and if you can find your brain

then maybe we can talk

CHORUS

Get your hands off of me

I don’t know who you think you are

get your hands off of me

You’re not getting lucky in this bar

Get your hands off of me

I got no time for wastin’

Get your hands off of me

Or it’s my boot that you’ll be tastin.

Have a great day! 🙂

My Potty Mouth

The next topic we will be looking at in the upcoming retreat at our farm is the fifth chakra – the throat or Vishuddha.  As usual, whenever we are coming up to a topic, issues in my life abound which keep this area active and challenging!  The throat chakra is all about personal expression. How you set your boundaries and limitations and how you express your needs and desires and how well you represent yourself in your words. Miguel Ruiz in the 4 agreements indicates that “being impeccable with your word” is paramount to balanced happy living.  Violent awords or the use of words which are there only to provide impression an dshock, like swearing, is not a healthy thing for this chakra. Miguel was right. when I swear allot in a day, my energy is lower, I feel more negative. I am discovering how important the words I use about myself and life in general are.

About the chakra:

The Vishuddha is associated with higher discrimination, with creativity and self-expression. When Vishuddha is closed, we undergo decay and death – resentment, anger etc…. When it is open, negative experiences are transformed into wisdom and learning. The success and failure in one’s life depends upon the state of this chakra (polluted/clean). Guilty feeling is the most prominent reason for this chakra to block the Kundalini Energy moving upwards. It is associated with the element Akasha, or Æther, and the sense of hearing, as well as the action of speaking.

This trip is not so easy!

This is one of those cases where I read something, and it makes perfect sense in my head…but my activities and behaviours don’t exactly represent what my head is thinking.  I swear like a trucker, and if you make me angry, I lash out like a serpent.  I re-act rather than act consciously. Focusing and simply being aware of this behavior has made me want to change things up and do better!

Every day I am faced with the challenge of my potty-mouth.  I even shock myself – now that I am paying attention.

Did you know that the F word is so flexible that it can be used probably more than any other word in the English language!

  • F*** can be used as a verb both transitive (he f***’d her) and    intransitive (she was f***’d by him).
  • a active verb (who really gives a f***?),
  • a passive verb (I really don’t give a f***),
  • an adverb (He is f***ing amazing with horses) and
  • a noun (dumb f***).
  • an adjective (this is f***ing beautiful).

Hmm…

If there is a way to swear I have found it.  But, it no longer represents me! It dumbs me down.  I use it mostly for shock value…but maybe my need for shock is gone?  It probably left around the same time as my desire for drama.

This chakra is very interesting to me.

My livelihood is earned as a singer.  There are some that would say I talk allot. 🙂 It is apparent that this chakra is of predominant interest for me. When the chakra is blocked, that means, when there are thoughts and issues that prevent us from expressing ourselves honestly (which his th ecase for most people), the energy becomes halted in this space. We can experience throat issues – even cancers if the energy stays there stale and detrimental for too long. Awasreness is the key to freeing bound energy.

Even if you don’t understand chakras, or don’t even believe they exist, there can be nothing but positive that comes from a desire to be aware of how we use our words and express our needs.

In younger developmental years, I was not exactly the most diplomatic of people.  it was part of my “self image” that I have many opinions and I made SURE everyone know what those opinions were.  But, as I mature and become more and more aware of everything around me. I find my opinions dropping to the wayside like unnecessary baggage.  I don’t need to be right anymore

Then there is the case of an underused throat chakra. For many years I didn’t sing. This caused great illness inside of me.  I think that once you disciover your creative talent (everyone has one…yes even you!) and you choose not to use it for whatever reason, the area of your body which houses the energy for that talent become blocked and illness results.

For many people, one of the main reasons this area of the body becomes blocked is because we don’t know how to express what we need when we need it. We allow things to build up until BLAM it all comes out sidesways in a liturgy of unhappiness.  Ruiz says we like to “share our poison” with others. When we have sadness or confusion or frustration, we explode outwards and try to dump all that thorat poison onto the nearest victim, usually our closest friends and family.

Many of us also weren’t exactly given the greatest role models for expression of self.  Then again, you can’t teach what you don’t know. My parents came from a time when women contained their needs and were in a  state of self sacrifice for their families – the definition of a “good mother”.  I would have loved my first mother to still be alive and see this new understanding that we are adopting that if we don’t have our own selves filled and taken care ofm, we certainly can’t take proper care of our families.  The old “fill your own cup” first – take the oxygen masks for yourself before putting it on your child. Yes…this is the right idea.

When I started to “Self center” myself, my family did not react very well.  It ws difficult for them to adapt to someone who was always leeching energy from them, to someone who was trying to find it within themselves.  Over time, we have communicated better and they have gained an understanding and appreciation for the work it takes to “be ok with yourself”.  I am a better example – especially for my girls today, who it seems have not in any way apopted this “subservient” silent women’s role that has plagued our cultures.  No, they have no problem expressing themselves at all…ever. 🙂

Guilt is a plaguing force. It is the most useless of all emotions. The most counterproductive.  It contains only false thoughts about you and about the world you live in.  It tells you are not enough. Makes you relive and relive the past – which by the way, can’t be changed.  Accepting the past, taking responsibility for your actions today and now, and making amends where you need to are the actions that heal guilt. In order to achieve this, you have to get very honest with yourself – and concurrently loose all judgment of you and your past actions.  All actions in the past are meant to bring you to where you are today.  Stand still – look at where you are. Whatever it is in the past that plagues you – was meant to help you become YOU! Guilt makes you look back over your should and get a sore neck…ways looking backwards, never forwards.

After my first marriage fell apart, mostly because of me, it took me years and years to understand this truly in my heart. It’s a tough thing to overcome!  But if you do – you will find yourself at a new level and potential for happiness.  Focusing on the throat and expressing what you need with conscious intention, is the healer.

If the devil had a voice, and if I believed in the devil, I would say it would sound like guilt.

So…f*** guilt.

And have a great day.

~Namaste~

🙂