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A few years ago, I noticed that I occasionally had dreams and idle fantasies of throwing things away – nearly violent images of picking up old clothes, old papers, random electronics, and broken stuff—and tossing them all haphazardly and mercilessly out of an open window. Sometimes I’d break the window in the process. It felt great to care less. What a crazy, cathartic forced way to affect clarity, well beyond the fabled “letting go.” The fantasy may be a bit on the extreme side, but it speaks to things that need doing, and perhaps a bit to my Virgo Obsesso nature. My living space has been incongruent with the order that I long for inside and out. I am pleased to say that is changing.
These last two weeks have been the beginning of reclaiming my home as temple. I call my place the Arts Ashram of Atco. I am dedicating my current practice to continuing to move the energies closer in line with the name. This morning in the middle of working peacefully in my room near the main altar, cleaning the kitchen, and in brushing the light layers of snow from the car, I felt the yoga coming back into my home and my being. As of a few days ago, an area that was once jumbled storage space is now “The Yoga Nook.” Next— on to the office. It doesn’t have a clever name yet.
A lot of people seem to think that the best thing about being freelance is that you get to create your own hours. I find that what has actually been most beneficial so far is that I create my own days. If it is time to tour through to Detroit or Sarasota or Kansas City, I can plan the dates, pick up and go. The hours within a day of writing at home can be a lot trickier.
Creating one’s own hours can be a joy provided that it is actually done in a way that promotes order and balance. When I have been good at creating my own hours, I am up at least by 6:30am, meditating by 6:45, in the gym by 7:45, home and hitting the day’s work by 9:30. I think that what some people believe would be so great about creating one’s own hours would be having the liberty to stay in bed ‘til 10, and work most of the day in pajamas. I have sometimes taken that kind of liberty, but when it happens, it usually means that my mood is slipping.
When I’m happiest, I’m up and at ‘em. At the lab where I used to work, I was so much the morning person that I was forbidden to play Uz Jsme Doma, the then #1 on my personal playlist, until everyone else could handle it—usually after noon. I love all kinds of sounds, but right now in my realigning phase, #1 on my chart is The Eternal Om (but there’s always room near the top of the chart for Steely Dan and Gary Wilson).
I resonate with the evenness that a monastic-style schedule creates – there is the potential for quiet joy with little tribulation. Here in my own space once again, I am very much in the midst of the multitasking world, but I have decided to add a lot more structure- to make my own hours for waking, exercising, working, eating, creating, socializing, and sleeping. My friend Tom Limoncelli, activist and time management guru, advocates making your life “boring” through routine. I think it’s a good trick: Get basic life stuff done, time and mental space is available. Life is less worrisome, and in truth, not so boring. I am taking that advice to heart.
I believe in the Arts Ashram of Atco and what it can become, or not, as I choose. After this time of returning to center, I expect to invite in the kirtans, parties, retreats, and other gatherings I’ve wanted to host. Some will be reminiscent of events past and I have many visions of new ones making their way to fruition. So far, these visions don’t involve any SCTV moments, but I remain open-minded.
Even as I am moving along into 2011 armed with optimism and new resolve, I find myself still looking back, trying to make sense of 2010. Everybody may be sick of all the Top 10 Whatever lists we get pelted with in December of each year, but mine formed late. So here it is.
I won’t pretend that 2010 was an overall good year for me. I am moving past it enough now, though, to have lost interest in enumerating the painful spots. I would rather remember the important positives. I’ve noted them in my cumbersomely titled Top 9 Very Good and/or Extraordinary Experiences of 2010, in chronological order. I enjoy the Number 9 and multiples of 9. I’m weird like that.
Top 9 Very Good and/or Extraordinary Experiences of 2010
1) Recording with Producer/Musician/Composer Scott Pearson – February 7-9
It is not often when I hear the language that a song speaks to me, and find another person who hears more or less the same thing— plus huge leaps through a library of sounds just on the tip of my imagination. In these sessions, we recorded two songs that I promise you’ll get to hear one day soon. Scott Pearson is brilliant, insightful, and has hilarious stories to tell. Add to it that getting to his Cary, NC studio involved driving through a blizzard, having my car buried in snow on a cul-de-sac in Alexandria, VA, and a tow truck to free the vehicle before another few harrowing hours of driving on ice, and you have a formula for quite the memorable time.
2) Visiting with Anasakta – April 23-25
I met this Canadian mystic when he became friends with my former housemate. His insights on Self-Realization are extraordinary, and he believes in my wisdom and inner awareness in the bhakta/tantrika realm more than I can fathom. We talked for hours, laughed a lot, interviewed each other on South Street in Philly, and he even put up with my inexplicable obsession with Canadian folk singer Stompin’ Tom Connors.
3) Gunnison Beach Party – July 24
Anyone who knows me at all knows that being naked in the sun is one of my favorite life experiences. I have been part of a large group that gets together annually for a party at Gunnison Beach, the clothing-optional beach at Sandy Hook in New Jersey. This year the weather was truly perfect and being in the midst of this social experience while making moments to commune personally and directly with nature was profound. Being in the ocean to me is to be enveloped in the essence of Goddess. My longtime friend and spiritual sister, dancing rabbit, stayed for the weekend. Any time with her is never short of healing and magic.
4) Rocking out with the MMB on my Birthday – August 27
For the last few years, getting the chance to perform with the Mutant Mountain Boys has been a highlight of my musical year. We’re a bluegrass-styled band that pays tribute to Devo and the Church of the SubGenius. The group is a brainchild of my banjo-playing Devo freak friend, Samantha. This year we played on opening night of the annual DEVOtional at the Beachland Ballroom in Cleveland. We performed what felt like our best show yet, and saw some excellent out-of-the-box bands. That was a great way to celebrate another trip around the sun.
5) Kirtan Cleveland, August 26 and 29
The Cleveland area was good to me in 2010. Frank Barnett was a champion of the kirtan chanting community there, and he coordinated my first NPR station interview for the afternoon of the 26th. It was a challenge and a joy to roll with linking my love of Devo with devotional chanting. The kirtan on the 29th had Samuel Salsbury on violin and Joe Culley on tabla, and lots of enthusiastic people at Studio 11 in Tremont to share the experience. The fact that Frank passed away two weeks later makes these moments so much more precious.
6) Recording “Hare Krishna Christmas” – November 8
Last year, I finally got back in touch with my inner comic. I have always loved parody, naughty limericks, cartoons, and all manner of zaniness. Though “Hare Krishna Christmas” has humor, it also emerges from a heart sincere in love of Consciousness and blended spiritualities. Finally, I followed friends’ advice and recorded this tune that has lived in my head for years. I had never before begun a recording session by having to multitrack harmonies with the lyrics “Ding Dong Ding.” Engineer/Musician/Composer Jack Walker and I tend to crack each other up no matter the recording project of the day, often with Warner Bros. toon quotes: “This time, we didn’t forget the graaa-vy!”
7) Silent Retreat – November 29
On this date every year, I have private, 24-hour long silent retreat. I talked about it quite a bit in the previous entry. This time around the silence was not so pleasant as it was functional. Pain and thoughts and questions came up and morphed into much needed calls-to-action.
8) Kye’s Birthday Parade Surprise – December 11
I really don’t know how I would feel if I were surprised by scores of people in costumes with twirling ribbons who came dancing and marching up the street to the front of my Las Vegas abode to do the box step and shout cheers for me on my birthday. I do know that it was amazing to play The Cat in the Hat in this display for Kye Brackett. Kye is one of the many extraordinary beings that make up the chosen family of people for dynamic and authentic living we call freedomcommunity. I was overjoyed in this procession at the creativity and penchant for the absurd, and was moved to tears by the outpouring of love.
9) Tears of Joy at the End of DADT
Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell was a terrible policy. I was angry about it when it was instituted, and always thought it should go away. I admit I never truly understood its impact until I heard the ecstatic and exhausted tears of joy and relief when a good friend called to tell me it had been repealed. The repeal of DADT meant that she will be able to continue to live with the love of her life, a career military woman, without lies of omission and fear. An impending promotion will not mean separation and emotional chaos, but a new home and a next phase in the lives of two people dedicated to one another. Oh, Happy Day.
Happy New Year to you. Here’s to a 2011 full of love, health, growth, fun, and music.