Karma

“Unconditional love really exists in each of us. It is part of our deep inner being. It is not so much an active emotion as a state of being. It’s not “I love you” for this or that reason; not “I love you if you love me.” It’s love for no reason, love without an object. It’s just sitting in love, a love that incorporates the chair and the room and permeates everything around.”
      Ram Dass
 
I am in love.
I am in love with a warm cuddly being with no teeth, a tongue that hangs out, and who doesn’t walk so well…
 
She is the essence of unconditional love. And she knows her job in life – to be a love sponge and give that love to everyone she meets without judgment, with total compassion, and to just be a healing force in the world. So since it’s February and soon it will be Valentines Day, I thought I would write about what unconditional love can look like. Meet Karma, the love dog.
 
My dentist, Dr. Cameron Garrett, and his wife Debra rescued Karma from Muttville Senior Rescue in San Francisco with the intention of her being a companion for Debra’s mother. After a short time it was clear that this was not a perfect match, so instead of taking her back Debra and Cameron did what they thought was best and adopted Karma themselves. With a busy work schedule and with both of them in the office every day, they started to bring Karma along with them and very soon found out about her special calling. They bring her to work every day and her “job” is to just cuddle with anyone having anxiety in the dentist’s chair.
 
To have Karma lie on your lap when Dr. Garrett is drilling away is quite an amazing experience. With my last office visit I could feel the calming effects of her: feeling her breathing with me, making little doggie sounds as she slept on my lap, and just being able to pet her made my visit – well I can’t really say fun, but I made it through and left feeling calm and centered. 
 
Without fanfare or publicity, Karma is healing the world – one patient at a time. I thought to myself how can I be more like Karma – just giving love and being a healing force in the world, without any thought of how that love would be returned. It feels to me like that is what we are all being called to do now, even more than ever – love without judgment, loving unconditionally, and just spreading that love to anyone we see. A smile. A kind gesture. Making eye contact with a stranger that lets them know you see them. Small gestures…maybe that’s what will heal this world…. Maybe we can all live our lives like Karma the love dog. 

Juicy

“No one is too busy to do what they actually prefer.”
Alan Cohen
                 
Happy New Year to all of you! I hope you had a wonderful holiday season and are ready for this New Year. So… it’s a New Year!! For you, does that mean new goals? Intentions? Perfect health? Clutter clearing? Doing nothing? More fun? What is it for you?
 
I’ll tell you what 2017 is for me.
One word.
One intention.
One commitment.
 

JUICY

 What does the word juicy mean for me? It means asking myself these questions: Where does my real passion lie (or where is the juice)? What makes me feel alive? What lights me up? What gets me excited about doing something? Reminding myself that it’s up to me to keep things “juicy” helps me as a motivator when I get off track and just want to eat bon bons and whine and complain that nothing is working in my life!
 
One of my favorite exercises that I learned from my friend and mentor, Alan Cohen, is the exercise of “It/Not It.” It’s really an opportunity to look at what I am doing, how I am spending my time, who I’m hanging out with, and to ask the question: “Is this it? Or not it?”  Does what I am doing fill me up or deplete me? Do I have energy or feel drained? Am I living life in full color or in shades of grey? Is it juicy and exciting or blah and mind-numbing?
 
I was talking with my friend Jennifer about this and she shared how she needs to really feel the “juice” before she says yes to something. For her, if there is no juice there will be no desire. When she said that I got the visual of squeezing an orange and watching all that sweet juice of desire coming out into a glass. That visual also helps me realize that when I don’t fill up my own soul-tank, or if I don’t pay attention to my “not it” voice, no juice will come out because there is nothing in there. 
 
Living juicy also means practicing radical self-care so that I have juice to give to the world. If my commitment to myself is being authentic, kind, and compassionate, then I need to first practice loving kindness to myself so I can authentically show that to everyone I meet. Easy to do? Not always – but that’s why it’s called a “practice.” It’s also a practice to say “No” when something is not juicy. In one of my songs, “N-O is my new Yes!” I wrote: “How good is my giving how authentic how true if I cheat me just to please you?” So this is my practice this year – living juicy, feeling the passion and having a darn good time! Will you join me?
 
Happy Juicy New Year!

We Are The Ones That We’ve Been Waiting For

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“Change will not come if we wait for some other
person or if we wait for some other time. 
We are the ones we’ve been waiting for.
We are the change that we seek.”
President Barack Obama
 
No matter what side you were on for the election, I think many of us agree that our country is going through some big changes.
A few days after the election I was set to do a concert in San Francisco sharing the stage with Deborah Winters, a wonderful vocalist and music director of a Unity church in the Bay Area. We both had planned out our sets, but then all week we called each other saying we couldn’t really decide what songs would work given how people were feeling. We cut songs, added songs, and processed our feelings about all that was happening in the country and within ourselves.
That night we both showed up and admitted to feeling a little down, hoping that we could lift each other up and put on a great show. In all my years as a songwriter, especially focusing on writing healing and inspirational music, that night was a miracle in being able to feel and see firsthand how music can heal.
We all laughed together, shed a few poignant tears, and sang about how love can heal. We finished the evening with my song Stand (“Let there be peace, I am a stand for peace”) and then for an encore sang the 60’s anthem by the Youngbloods, Get Together, (“Come on people now, smile on your brother, everybody get together, try to love one another right now”) I felt that a shift had happened in my heart. The situation was still the same in the world, but I felt different.
I believe if anything is going to bring all of us together – the different political views, racial tensions, fear that is going on for many communities – then music and the arts can help us through. Author Toni Morrison writes about the role of the artist to help us express and heal: “This is precisely the time when artists go to work. There is no time for despair, no place for self-pity, no need for silence, no room for fear. We speak, we write, we do language. That is how civilizations heal.”  
I have come to realize how it truly is up to each of us, doing what we can to be kind to each other, to understand our differences, and to stand up for what we believe. As the Hopi elders said: “There is a river flowing very fast… we must let go of the shore… keep our heads above water ….we are the ones that we’ve been waiting for…”