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It’s actually happening. The finishing touches are finally being put on the new chant recording. A very brief post about it yesterday caused a little ripple on Facebook; in a way it served as a first bit of encouragement from outside the project. While working on This., I felt much more in a vacuum than during other recordings; I am not being coy to say the response was an honest wake-up moment about the coming of interaction with others again around the music. Soon I’ll be touring my way down to Florida and back. I’ll be inviting more people than I ever have to take part in helping the music to be heard. Possibly the most exciting and daunting part for me is that I’ll be working on the second half of the follow-up project, .. and everything else.
Back when I became completely immersed in kirtan, I spent almost a year listening to nothing else. Life was a constant meditation on the drone of harmonium or tampura. I absorbed mantras and melodies and the stories of Hindu deities at such a rate that when people asked me where I learned this or that, I truly had no idea. During that time I wasn’t sure I’d ever write another song. It only seemed relevant to talk about the totality of things. Life stuff was happening, but Om was the only relevant response.
Somewhere it became clearer to me that my path continued to be one of staying engaged in the day-to-day and writing down the stories. But by then I’d been through a kind of vortex that made it a strange exercise. I was frustrated over this for a while, but now I am giving myself a break over the times I wasn’t writing. Yes, some of that time away has probably been about avoiding pain or focusing on the minutiae rather than any larger project at hand. I suspect most of us do those things. But even more than that, I’ve been in a relearning pattern. Life feels a little different having been through this particular spiritual vein, and I am ultimately grateful for the shift. While grasping onto stories is still not as easy, they do feel rich and relevant. Lately, I’ve been in a primordial soup of happenings:
My home ashram has been steadily coming into fruition; there was an intense weekend with visiting Tantra teachers (Ran Baron and Monique Darling, with Edie Weinstein on Cuddle Party duties) and more and different events are in the works. Friends have been around sunbathing, picnicking, and enjoying the space. Some old friends seem to have left my life unequivocally, while others remain stuck in uncomfortable balance or misunderstanding. Other old friends have been reappearing in wild, wonderful, wacky, sexy ways. There are stories to fill a volume or two in these changes alone. I’m startled at how physical I want daily life to be these days – I can groove on hours of yard work with pruning, hauling branches, mowing, then swimming or running or tennis or hiking – it’s nearly all I really want to do. That is, if it weren’t for booking the upcoming tour, hopefully through D.C., Raleigh, Asheville, Atlanta, Miami, and back again. Meanwhile I have kept an eye out to see if there’s any way in the universe I can get to the UK for Robin Gibb’s memorial service, and I have met online friends who get why this continues to mean so much to me. I was sad to learn that I will be in FL on the day of a plaque dedication, but there may be another time to gather. I’ve been true to my promise to self to not let summer fun pass me by. Rocking out (well, blue grassing out, anyway) with The Mutant Mountain Boys in oppressively hot Southern Ohio on the 4th of July was a blast, as was rediscovering my love for the strangely wise absurdity of the Church of the SubGenius. I have had some joyful days at Gunnison Beach and a good peaceful time at this year’s Northeast Naturist Festival. Oh, and my friend LauraLynn Jansen and I are planning to co-lead a chant and yoga retreat in Nicaragua, January 2013.
At first, I thought it was ironic that the chant CD is on its way as I feel itchy for a full band, wanting so much to step back into the role of rocker chick. Really, it’s just typical artist stuff, I think. Project done and my being is moving onto the next, to be painted in singer/songwriter/rock sounds and maybe some spoken word. I do ultimately trust that when it’s time to be in the midst of any of these expressions, I’ll show up and be present. I hope This… and everything else together will tell more of the story as an exploration of life – or at least as extrapolated from this particular life – in something close to 360o.
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.