Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Sparks will fly

Earlier this year the shop had to replace a good part of my car's exhaust system, and they were kind enough to reuse what they could... which of course included the catalytic converter that just last week decided to go bad. From my perch in the shop I watched as they worked to undo what they had carefully crafted just months before. A young man lit up the torch and tore into it. No goggles, no gloves, no mask, no headgear, no chainmail, no body armour. Did the bits of fire inches from his face and arms inflict any damage? Apparently not -- he stepped into the shop office moments later perfectly intact, able to have the necessary conversation with the visiting insurance agent about health coverage.

What looked precarious to me was perfectly safe to him -- he knew his limits. Digging in with vigor and certainty.

This past weekend my brother turned 30. I am curious about who might feel older as a result of this -- he or I. As an older sister I marvel at all he has accomplished; married with a house, a job in research secured quickly aftering acquiring his PhD, tearing out and now finishing a garage he built from the ground up -- all this just in the past year and a half. He has a thousand goals and goes after them with incredible energy and focus.

He's returning to music to balance his daily massive intellectual output. In honor of that, his wife and I carved and decorated a guitar cake from two 9 x 13" chocolate cakes, and she bestowed upon him all the equipment and resources necessary for getting back into the game. A guitar on fire -- greatly symbolic for my brother, I think. Look out.

The wedding I played that day was anything but fire. The minister said separately to both bride and groom, "S___, I think since the day you were born your heart was on tiptoe, whispering, where's S____?" (Yes, each had the first intials of "S"). There was no rush in this ceremony, no hurry, just perfect reverence for the experience they've waited a lifetime for. And candles. Thus the dark picture.

The barrage of harp pictures in this blog is part of a bigger project to overhaul my website. The vision remains in my head, waiting to be extracted. Just like the artwork whose deadline is this weekend. This Friday is our Nova Madrugada performance. Look out.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

A little night music

I used to live in a room full of mirrors;
all I could see was me.
I take my spirit and I crash my mirrors,
now the whole world is here for me to see.
Jimi Hendrix

The new Radiohead is out via download only. Listening to it makes one feel that by simply raising one's arms and heart, flying is entirely possible (especially Reckoner).

All wrapped up in one weekend, or rather, one night:
Maggie Green's CD release party
Elisa Nicolas' CD release party
A discussion about the future of Nova Madrugada
Brasiliera at Dick's Den
Running into G at Dick's after working together as volunteers for the WCBE NPR fund drive
Running into the folks from Limestone Vale
Running into the owner of Espresso Yourself Music Cafe
Talking real life with R

A night wedding at Franklin Park Conservatory -- starry lights and candles and jazz harp.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Yes, this is really happening

Today marks the last of my outdoor wedding harp jobs until next spring. This time of year in Ohio means the temperature could be... anything. I always prefer warm over cold, and today was a hot one with record temperatures. Finding shade to play in is not an act of luxury, it's a necessity for both the instrument and the performer. The first wedding was on the OSU campus -- can you tell by the picture? It was a scarlet and gray wedding, complete with the OSU marching band practicing somewhere in the distance and another sport's happenings being announced across the road. The music on the stand is opened to "Carmen Ohio."

The second wedding had an amazing sound system setup... positioned right over my shoulder. The dog in this ceremony behaved himself nicely. Oh the stories of ceremonies I've played!

In between weddings I had a Rice Dream Chocolate Pie.

Last night I attended a concert by Christine Kane, thanks to tickets I won from WCBE, our outstanding local NPR station. As soon as she started to play you forgot it was just Christine and her guitar. Since she has different tunings for each song, she uses the time between each to tune and talk about life. The audience was captivated. Why? Because she is real.

Somewhere in the middle of the concert I felt incredibly validated as a woman, as a performer, and as a creative, sensitive soul. In her presence, our life struggles don't look like struggles at all -- they are experiences loaded with opportunities to grow if you keep your eyes wide open. I get this in theory, but remembering it is another story. This is simply how it is. There is not "what am I supposed to be doing?" You are already doing it.

Christine also leads workshops (the ways I relate to this woman are seemingly endless). I visited the website of where they are held. Smack on the home page was... a blue heron.

Exploring her website further, I found this:
I am discerning and care-full about how I eat. It is a top priority for me, even when I’m on the road. For your average person, this is just too much trouble. For someone who has had an eating disorder, this is just routine. I keep up a regimen of regular health care, regular exercise, and I take more time than most people to prepare great meals and eat them in a relaxed environment.

There is a lot about this for me. Maybe for another post. An area I'm curious about -- Christine gives some very compelling personal arguments for giving up dairy.

And this:
I will probably continue other practices no matter what. I pay out of pocket for acupuncture. I pay higher prices for organic locally grown food. I take extra time for meals. In our speed and efficiency-driven society with all of its social expectations, this is not a popular route. So be it. I spent way too many years trying to keep up with all of this stuff and contort myself to fit society’s values. Once I created my own and stuck with them - miracle of miracles - I found happiness.

YES. There are so many places to go from here. I continue to have such revealing conversations with other women about finding our place in the world.

And all this ON TOP OF her incredible music!!

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Mystic without a monastery

From today's newsletter by Caroline Myss:

"I believe that to be a 'mystic without a monastery' is a new 'soul's calling', in the same way that people were once called to the new spiritual path of Buddhism and Christianity. We've had fifty years of exploring this new age human consciousness movement, and it's not new anymore. It's middle-aged and needs to mature into a stronger and more dynamic spiritual and social force on this planet. Instead of making people withdraw from the world, to constantly seek their quiet little cabins in the woods and focus on their own healing endlessly, it's time for the generation of mature souls to emerge who can live in both worlds simultaneously - who can be of service to humanity and maintain their contemplative, private life."

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Blue Heron

Every day I try to take an hour walk on the country roads around where I live -- it is the best remedy to qualm the anxiety caused by too many spinning thoughts and ideas and desires. In the middle of my walk, I am on a road that runs along the river, and I have finally achieved some sort of clarity about what's on my mind. I look up, though never at the same spot on the river. Almost always, standing straight and tall in the middle of it is a Great Blue Heron.

It's not as if the heron is a vivid blue, or is doing something to catch my attention. It is just THERE, right where I look, almost waiting for me, looking regal and tall and strong.

(Borrowed picture as I never have my camera with me on the walk).

Valid or not, this bird has become a sort of symbol of reassurance and confirmation. When I stop to gaze at it, for a moment we are both frozen there, and then it lifts it's giant wings and takes flight. The grace and power with which it does this is breathtaking.

Today I was driving home from errands and took another river road. Another perplexing thought was on my mind. I happened to glance over to the river and to my surprise I instantly picked out a blue heron, flying effortlessly in the same direction at the same speed I was driving. You can bet I am going to take action on what was on my mind at the time.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Spinning (again)

So much is happening so fast. I'm just hoping I'm absorbing it all.

I am mesmerized by the music of Bat for Lashes. I cannot believe I didn't go to the show last night. This woman lives her dreams every day (listen to "Horse and I") -- every haunting, moving, aching dream...

I'm reading the excellent book The Not So Big Life by Sarah Susanka (see blog link under "Other Blogs"). Susanka is an architect who writes about home as a sacred place, a location and space for personal expression, pared down to the essentials where every aspect of your surroundings is deeply meaningful. This book is rife with ideas about living authentically.

Today I had a conversation with CG about sorting through the amazing opportunities that life presents on a daily basis -- right now they are coming at me fast and furious. Am I making the right choices? She mentioned the work of Andrew Harvey, who suggests waking at 3 am and asking what makes your heart bleed, makes every part of you ache, what makes you angry -- this is where your life purpose lies. His idea of spiritual activism entails taking action now as the times almost demand it -- really do something versus, for example, meditating about it. We are so often told to go after the things that make you happy, your wonderful joyous dreams. We are taught to turn away from what touches the most tender part of ourselves.

Susanka includes a quote from Rumi in her book: "There is one thing in this world you must never forget to do. Human beings come into this world to do particular work. That work is their purpose, and each is specific to the person. If you forget everything else and not this, there's nothing to worry about. If you remember everything else and forget your true work, then you will have done nothing with your life."