A New Birth!

Dear World,
 
I am officially here! I am Karen Drucker’s new “baby,” a romping little CD named “One Heart At A Time,” and I was brought forth fully birthed today, November 1, 2017 at 8:00 am. Even though Karen has created many other CD’s, she is very excited about me because I am a little different than the others. Like my siblings, I still have the 12 songs/chants that she normally does on all her CDs, but I am unique because I have what Karen is calling “musical meditations.” This is a chant where you think of something you want to let go of, or forgive, or be grateful for, and you sing along with Karen and her amazing back-up singers over and over until you feel a shift in your heart. I overheard her saying that she hopes people will get into the trance-y state she got into while singing these songs, and that it might help people heal some of the pain that is going on in the world. The process of my creation was very organic with some songs being written right there in the studio, while others were created with some of her amazing songwriter friends. She is so grateful to work with some of the best musicians in the Bay Area, and she was moved to tears a few times watching them put their creativity into this project resulting in me being born today. 
 
So world – here I am! I hope that you will take a listen and share with your friends if you enjoy me. I am very happy to be born, and happy to share myself with all of you!

Everyday Bravery

Everyday Bravery
 
“There are so many ways to be brave in this world. Sometimes bravery involves laying down your life for something bigger than yourself, or for someone else. Sometimes
it involves giving up everything you have ever known, or everyone you have ever
loved, for the sake of something greater.
But sometimes it doesn’t.
Sometimes it is nothing more than gritting your teeth through pain, and the work of every day, the slow walk toward a better life.” Veronica Roth
 
Happy Fall everyone! Are you like me and questioning if time is speeding up? It feels like 2017 just started and now we are almost done. I am becoming more aware of the fragility of time and life and noticing how vulnerable I feel around it all. I recognize that just living our lives and keeping our hearts open in these wacky political times is an act of bravery. And bravery is on my mind right now – I am on a plane traveling to Unity Village in Missouri where I will be co-facilitating a retreat with my friend, Lori Sandstrom, and our theme is “bravery.”
 
I have been looking at what the word “bravery” means to me and what comes up are the pictures of people on the news helping people in some kind of tragedy: Neighbors helping neighbors navigate the rising floods, and their aftermath, that we have just witnessed in Houston; the police, firefighters, and all first responders risking their own lives to help total strangers. All of these people are heroes in my book and truly are the embodiment of bravery. But I want to also look at the acts of bravery we all do everyday that we might not give ourselves credit for: 
*Keeping our hearts and minds open in the midst of all the turmoil in the world.
 
*Having that difficult conversation with someone when it would be so much easier to go numb, but knowing that if you don’t say something the relationship will be tainted. 
 
*Practicing radical self-love. For example when your inner critic comes up and starts down the path of shaming you, and you choose to treat yourself well and not listen to that voice.
 
*Being kind to someone when it just might inconvenience you, or make you feel vulnerable for reaching out. 
 
*Putting your voice/art/creativity/self out in the world without any guarantee that it will be received in the way that you would like.
 
Maybe my intention with the newsletter this month is simply to give ourselves credit for what we are doing – how we direct our energy in a positive way to help other people and to help ourselves.
 
Next month I will release my 20th CD and I recognize that it is an act of bravery every time I do it. I have the same fears with this 20th one as I did with my first: Will people like it? Will they compare it to my other CD’s? Will there be songs that resonate and touch people? I have no idea, but as Martha Graham wrote, “It is not your business to determine how good it is nor how valuable nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open. You do not even have to believe in yourself or your work. You have to keep yourself open and aware to the urges that motivate you.”
 
“Keep yourself open” – now that to me is bravery! So I invite you to just take a moment and give yourself credit for all you are doing and how brave you are!

 

Life Beyond The Swans

“The comfort zone is the great enemy to creativity; moving beyond it necessitates intuition, which in turn configures new perspectives and conquers fears.”
Dan Stevens
 
It has been said that when you do something outside your comfort zone, something different, something that stretches you, that you actually create a new pattern in your brain. As much as I have done some adventures that have challenged me, sometimes I have to laugh at myself when my wimpy side comes up.
 
For six years now I have co-facilitated a women’s retreat with my good friend Joan Borysenko at Kripalu Retreat Center in Lennox, Massachusetts. At the base of the property is a beautiful lake that I immediately go to as soon as I get there. I’ve written many times about my passion of being an open water swimmer, so you’d think that I would just dive right in and start swimming. The truth is that I swim in the little roped off area on the lake and never go beyond the plastic swans that mark the swim area. The reason why? Grass that comes up from the bottom that feels slimy and creepy and not something I am used to having touch my skin. I would swim in the 3 feet of water for 3 strokes and turn around but never venture out beyond the swans. Until today.
 
I have a friend who lives right near Kripalu who migrates to my area to escape the cold of the east and swims on my team in California through the winter. When Ray heard I was coming to his town he said, “Oh when you come this summer you have to swim with me in the lake at Kripalu – it will be so fun!” I smiled one of those sick smiles at his invitation, thinking of the slimy grass and whatever creatures of the deep could be lurking in that lake beyond the swans. I was hoping he would forget by the time summer came around, but the invitation was set – 9:00am Friday morning. How could I get out of this?
 
That morning it was a beautiful clear day and the lake was glassy and still. I looked at the boundaries of the plastic swans, and as Ray and his friend John jumped in and started swimming I knew there was nothing else I could do but just go. With my heart pumping, I immediately felt the slimy grasses on me but kept my head up and moved my arms as fast as I could to get out of it…and within a minute I did. The grass gave way to deep clear water that felt great. I looked around and saw the trees and beautiful blue sky and was in heaven. We swam to the other side of the lake for an hour. How could I have let the plastic swan barrier keep me from this for so long (and it made me wonder how many other things like this could I be doing in my life)?
 
I realized that this is what a portal feels like…that sometimes I have to just push through something hard right before the nirvana stage. This happens when I swim in the San Francisco Bay – that initial jolt of the cold that gives way to the beauty of the bay, or the nervousness before I do a retreat that gives way to the satisfaction of seeing people happy and empowered, and let’s not forget the jitters before a performance that gives way to a sweet connection with the audience. It’s moving through whatever those fears are and breathing, trusting, surrendering and moving into the mystery that can bring me treasures beyond my wildest dreams. So those swans? I won’t let them stop me again!