Zigs and Zags and Patti Smith

~Wrote this two days ago while flying out to SLC but didn't get a chance to post until now. Benjamin is having surgery this afternoon. Feeling more nervous about his recovery than the actual procedure. Fortunately he and I both have great support as he goes through this next challenge. He has an excellent team of doctors and his roommates are two very close friends who have reassured me that they will be at the ready and available to help him out with whatever he needs when he gets home. I am staying about ten minutes away with my best friend, Mimi Charles, from when I was a teenager and we seem to be more connected than ever after having lost touch for more than 30 years! We reconnected about 7 years ago when Ben moved out to Utah but had only seen each other once for an hour or two when I was out here 3 years. Life is strange and sweet amidst the challenges.~

Sitting on an airplane headed to SLC. My son Ben is having a surgical procedure the day after tomorrow on his eye- actually the optic nerve. It could be a fairly simple procedure- optic nerve decompression due to a rare bone condition that he has had since childhood- and I am more concerned about the recovery but it could also be a bit more extensive than what they are anticipating.

Flight zigs and zags- a 12-hour travel day. Providence to Baltimore, Baltimore to Detroit, Detroit to Las Vegas, Las Vegas to SLC. I hate writing on my iPhone but figure I may as well do something constructive!

Finished reading Patti Smith’s amazing book “Just Kids” en route. Didn’t plan so well- I didn’t want it to end, especially when I still have hours to go before arriving in Salt Lake. Somehow I didn’t take into account all the time changes and didn’t realize it was a four and a half hour flight from Detroit to Las Vegas! The upside of being stuck on a plane for many hours is being held hostage by creative artistic literary rock n’ roll inspiration.

What is it that gets me about Patti Smith? I had no idea how steeped in art her life has been. How did I not know so much more about her in years gone by? I knew she was a rock icon and a legend- every time I heard her music I loved it but I never chased her down- until last year when I read “M Train” and had my mind blown. Now I want to hear every song, read every poem, every book and see every drawing she ever did.

Part of what is so captivating is her humility and her unabashed honesty. It’s as though she looked life straight in the eye and fell into it. The lack of ego is one of the most refreshing things in her writing. It was quite a contrast to Graham Nash’s autobiography which I recently finished and grew very tired of about 2/3 of the way through because I felt it was so full of ego. Somehow there was always the feeling to me that he was name-dropping and talking a lot about how fabulous he was, whereas with Patti Smith, even while she writes about meeting Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix and other legends, it feels very innocent and natural. There is sense of detachment around it- like she’s just writing about her life as it unfolded in a very organic way. There is always a sense of wonder, simplicity and connection.

When I saw her in New Bedford in January I had the same sense- an invitation to be fully human with no shame, no hiding. It is a powerful and inspiring invitation, to be the fullness of who I am and to me the greatest gift of true spiritual teachers. The ones I have been most affected by are the ones who I feel are fully manifesting in every moment. So I guess I am adding Patti Smith to my list of great gurus. Thank you Patti.Sitting on an airplane headed to SLC. My son Ben is having a surgical procedure the day after tomorrow on his eye- actually the optic nerve. It could be a fairly simple procedure- optic nerve decompression due to a rare bone condition that he was born with- and I am more concerned about the recovery but it could also be a bit more extensive than what they are anticipating.

Flight zigs and zags- a 12-hour travel day. Providence to Baltimore, Baltimore to Detroit, Detroit to Las Vegas, Las Vegas to SLC. I hate writing on my iPhone but figure I may as well do something constructive!

Finished reading Patti Smith’s amazing book “Just Kids” en route. Didn’t plan so well- I didn’t want it to end, especially when I still have hours to go before arriving in Salt Lake. Somehow I didn’t take into account all the time changes and didn’t realize it was a four and a half hour flight from Detroit to Las Vegas! The upside of being stuck on a plane for many hours is being held hostage by creative artistic literary rock n’ roll inspiration.

What is it that gets me about Patti Smith? I had no idea how steeped in art her life has been. How did I not know so much more about her in years gone by? I knew she was a rock icon and a legend- every time I heard her music I loved it but I never chased her down- until last year when I read “M Train” and had my mind blown. Now I want to hear every song, read every poem, every book and see every drawing she ever did.

Part of what is so captivating is her humility and her unabashed honesty. It’s as though she looked life straight in the eye and fell into it. The lack of ego is one of the most refreshing things in her writing. It was quite a contrast to Graham Nash’s autobiography which I recently finished and grew very tired of about 2/3 of the way through because I felt it was so full of ego. Somehow there was always the feeling to me that he was name-dropping and talking a lot about how fabulous he was, whereas with Patti Smith, even while she writes about meeting Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix and other legends, it feels very innocent and natural. There is sense of detachment around it- like she’s just writing about her life as it unfolded in a very organic way. There is always a sense of wonder, simplicity and connection.

When I saw her in New Bedford in January I had the same sense- an invitation to be fully human with no shame, no hiding. It is a powerful and inspiring invitation, to be the fullness of who I am and to me the greatest gift of true spiritual teachers. The ones I have been most affected by are the ones who I feel are fully manifesting in every moment. So I guess I am adding Patti Smith to my list of great gurus. Thank you Patti.

 Credit Sebastien Bozon/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Credit Sebastien Bozon/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Sarasvati, Mike Oldfield, Creativity and Healing

Sarasvati, "She Who Flows", is the goddess of creativity, wisdom, intellectual pursuits, the arts and sciences, music and language. She is the one we can invoke before we begin any creative project.

This is a great little clip of Mike Oldfield, maestro extraordinaire, discussing his creative process. I love the how he talks about the germination of an idea.

And just for the fun of it I am posting another great song of his (what has he done that isn't great?) that isn't always associated with him- but in fact he wrote it (NOT Hall & Oates as some folks believe). This is the original version on his album "Five Miles Out" (Maggie Reilly on vocals). If your only association with Mike Oldfield is as the composer of "Tubular Bells" this one may come as a surprise- but really, he is a musical genius and full of surprises.

And now, if I have your full attention, turn up your speakers, lay back and listen to the full recording of "Ommadawn"- total gorgeousness and brilliance! Talk about sound healing! I used to listen to this endlessly. It's over 40 years old now and has lost nothing over the years- still just brilliant and beautiful. I know every note by heart. It was music to disappear into when life got to be too much... This is one of those albums that could always bring joy to my heart and peace to my mind.

Celebrating Righteousness (Thank You Oprah)

Okay, I intended to write something completely different tonight but then I saw Oprah's speech from last night's Golden Globes and was dissolved in tears. You've probably already seen it. Sound healing is a wonderful thing- but when someone has the boldness, clarity and integrity to speak from their heart, to stand up for truth and righteousness, then everything else kind of pales. So, in case you haven't seen here it is- and if you have, this is going to be one of those speeches that will be worth watching and listening to over and over for years to come.

This was the end to an awesome day. I woke up this morning on my birthday- 1.8.18- to a sense of profound joy that has stayed with me throughout the day. This absolutely topped it off for me like nothing else could have. Thank you Oprah, and to all the women and men who stand strong in the truth of their being.

Mongolian Jingle Bells ROCKS!

Okay- that's it! I am head over heels and unabashedly in LOVE. So much so that I am back on my blog to tell the world (or the scant few who might actually read this). (I must admit that I was a bit shocked to see that I haven't posted since Nov. 9.)

Here is the source of my joy. I know I'm a few days late but my Christmas tree is still up, it's 14 degrees out, I have a wood fire burning and the only thing I feel I am missing is one of these wonderful coats so that I could sit outside on the frozen ground and feel as happy and comfortable and warm as these lovely Mongolian singers seem to be.

If it gives you even half as much pleasure as it did me then it will be a very good day for you. Please do turn up your speakers!

The Space of a Soul

I decided finally after so many days of wanting to write and so many days (okay, weeks) of not getting to it, that a short post is better than no post at all.

Yesterday afternoon/evening a group of us had a sweet gathering and send-off for our dear friend Shin Ae Tassia who departed this world on April 22, 2017. Her work as a "connector" continues as she brought more of us together still on this occasion, so many of us whom had not met before.

So much sweetness, so much heart. Worlds bumping up against each other, rubbing elbows. Artists, musicians, mechanics, social activists, healers and others- all extraordinary in their own unique ways. I am always astounded when a dear one passes how many lives they have in touched in so many different ways. And how we continue to get to know them long after they're gone.

A body doesn't take up that much physical space in the world but a soul? That's another matter. This thought is leading me down a windy river. A soul is like a miracle- and a soul is a miracle. I want to substitute the word "soul" right now in this sentence: A miracle is never lost. It may touch many people you have not even met, and produce undreamed of changes in situations of which you are not even aware. (A Course in Miracles- Text, 45th Principle of Miracles)

And the curious question that is sometimes asked about people "What are they worth?" Wow! Obviously meant on the most material mundane level... but what an odd question. How do you determine the value of a human, the value of a life, the value of a soul? Soul currency... There's something to think about.

The night before last I did a Sound Journey for some of Shin Ae's closest friends, highlighting her favorite instruments, the gongs and Himalayan bowls. Last night I put it on when I got in bed. It must have been dreamy because I fell asleep within about 5 minutes. I slept deeply, woke up 5 hours later fully refreshed and restored, unfortunately forgetting my dreams within minutes of waking; nonetheless with a heart full of gratitude for the sweetness of this life and the continuity of it all.

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Esperanza and the Bird!

Watching this fabulous video- live music and conversation with Andrew Bird and Esperanza Spalding. I myself am only 12 minutes into it but I am so totally turned on by it that I had to share NOW!!! The way they play, the way they hear, the way they think, the way they converse about music- and their glow, their excitement as they talk about it. It's absolutely wonderful. Enjoy!!!

Everything New Under the Sun

Hmmm... I think the expression is "There's nothing new under the sun." I'm not buying it.

Every day I hear new music- combinations of instruments, tones and frequency I've never heard before, and it constantly blows my mind. I see things I've never seen before and even on a rare occasion I think something that I have never thought before! I have been thinking about this a lot lately, especially since I went to hear Claude Bourbon last week for the second time in two weeks. He is such an amazing guitarist combining jazz, flamenco, classical, blues and some nice folky styles that make me nostalgic for the folk music of the 60's and early 70's. In some odd way he (or his music) seems reminiscent to me of Donovan and his sort of gypsy troubadour style- but he is extraordinary and one of a kind. He also has a really unusual and interesting vocal sound.

Here is a video of him playing some pretty incredible blues guitar at the Pump House Music Works, an unbelievably cool and beautiful venue in Wakefield with a totally great vibe.

Then I heard David Crosby's newest album "Sky Trails"- the guy is brilliant- so creative and such a unique way of putting together words, music, melodies and harmonies- and again, I feel knocked out by the expansiveness and endless creative potential of the human mind. This probably all sounds totally cliche but somehow there are things that suddenly take our (or my) awareness to a new level. How can people just continually come up with a new sound, a new song, a new style, a new anything?!

Billions of people with trillions of cells and from that the possibility an infinite number of configurations and combinations I suppose with the continuous potential for new creations, new ideas, new technology.

Anyway, the point is really this:

Rocking the Kirtan!

Okay, I'm making this short and sweet as I have just spent two hours updating my website and adding a new page- Kirtan Kindergarten! Please check it out!

And in light of that, I would like to direct your attention to a cool and rocking kirtan by Jai Uttal at the Jerusalem Sacred Music Festival! It was actually performed in a 2,400 year old cave and is gorgeous just to look at- but you won't want to just look at it- turn up your speakers!

Renewed, Refreshed, Restored

Wow, I thought I had saved a draft I started writing about my ten-day stay aboard the 3-masted schooner Victory Chimes and somehow apparently I deleted it. I was all set to go ahead and post it tonight! Whoops. Oh well, apparently I was supposed to write something else!

Well, the title kind of speaks for itself. That was the end result of five days on a Wellness Retreat aboard this beautiful old schooner and another 4 days on board with the geologist and climate change expert, Dr. Harold Borns, who started the Climate Change Institute at the University of Maine in the eighties. He was totally fascinating and we made a great connection. I was able to relieve some fairly severe pain in his neck quickly with my tuning forks shortly after he came aboard the boat and he told me a lot I didn't know about my great great (great great?) uncle Louis Agassiz, the famous geologist, glaciologist and paleontologist. (He has since sent me a whole packet of information about him!)

What a great and much needed ten days to unplug and relax. No phone, no internet- I didn't even have to make my own coffee in the morning- and I had no idea how badly I needed it!

The word stress has somehow found its way into my language. I don't really like that. I have never been one to talk about how stressed out I am- but the truth is I had gone through a pretty challenging 2-3 months prior to suddenly hearing about this Wellness Retreat at the very last minute. There is nowhere I love to be more than on a wooden boat and as soon as I heard about it I knew it was the perfect remedy and solution. I am so glad I followed what was really a deep desire for me as it turned out so much better and more powerful on a very deep level than I could have imagined.

I slept so well, ate so well, dreamed so deeply, read a lot, played music, did some minimal amounts of healing work and laughed a lot. One morning I played my tamboura on deck for the yoga class as the sun came up. Another day I did a sound journey on deck with a few select instruments.

Tonight I am too tired to write any more so I'll let some photos speak for themselves!