Archive | January, 2012

Music is my weapon

29 Jan

Yesterday I attended a drum circle at Unity Village Chapel’s community center. There were over 60 people there from under 10 to, well, it’s not polite to ask someone’s age, so we’ll just go with there were all ages there.

One of the kids who was really into it, I’d say he’s about 6th grade, had on a shirt that read: ‘music is my weapon.’

Music is my weapon. It made me smile every time I saw it. To me it means that instead of choosing a weapon he’s choosing music. Music is where the energy is going. I’ve seen a bumper sticker that reads: ‘Make art not war.’  What if we all did that, all the time? What if we followed the creative, community-enriching, life-affirming path? What if we found our part of healing the world and made it our mission?

Ziggy Marley sang ‘Love is my religion’. I have realized on more than one occasion I was singing along and changed the words to Love is my Decision. Kind of a Ziggy Daniel Nahmod mix.

That’s the life I want to live. Choosing music, art and creative expression over weapons and hate and lack. I want to decide for love, and make that decision every day, every moment.

I could preach on for a while, but today I’ll keep it short… I gotta go play my guitar

Choosing love, music and joy,



Verbal vomit

20 Jan

Isn’t that a great title for blog? I crack myself up sometimes.

But really, this morning I did something I have been meaning to do for a long time but life had never quite aligned to make that happen. I headed over to Creative Nectar Studio for a process painting workshop. The workshops are facilitated by my friends Jenny and Stephanie who are artists and long time believers in process painting.

In the last couple months I have been feeling drawn more and more to my artistic side and the studio has been calling me. This last week I knew it had to happen. Studying for interviews, catching up on assignments, sending that email was all gonna have to wait.

My life, is a crazy mis-mash of stuff… kinda like everyone else’s. Sometimes it feels like most of the elements are humming along as they should. Other times it feels like an epic storm keeps shaking up each item you nail down. In the last few weeks there has been a significant amount of storming, at least 5 bigger items bringing up ‘stuff’ that settles and rises, giving great opportunities to practice breathing and balance as I said in last week’s blog.

So here I was, standing at a blank piece of paper with some ‘stuff’ going on. I was inspired and started painting. Process painting isn’t so much about making a painting that you would sell or hang on your wall, but a process of expression and self discovery. So there I was, painting. Going along ok with what I was doing but having resistance, an internal struggle of what this was all about. Stephanie (who was facilitating today) came along and asked some great questions. I told her I wanted to express my frustration in big letters across my painting. She said I could do that of course, but I could also get another sheet of paper and write on that and go back and forth. She got me that piece of paper (and a kleenex box) and taped it up a step away.

Holy cow! I wrote in big ol’ letters some angry words in olive green and I underlined something in red. Then I went back to my painting. After a while another phrase came to mind and repeated itself. On to the other page it went, pink this time, because that was what was on my brush. Since I had written in 4 inch tall letters the first time, the page was already close to ‘full’ but some turquoise words went on too. Around now Stephanie came back to see how things were going and I was feeling less stuck on my painting and quite happy with my other page. She offered another page to write and I declined, not ready for that just yet.

What happened over the next hour or so was very powerful. As I continued to paint, words and phrases that went along with the theme of my ‘picture’ painting emerged and I  integrated them into the painting. At the same time, all sorts of unkind/angry/mean phrases were coming to mind, and if they stuck around for a repeat I slapped them up on the words page. Whatever color I happened to be working with at that moment, that was what went up there. I didn’t run out of space because I kept writing over whatever was there. For a while you probably could have sorted out what some of the phrases were, but soon it looked like a page of crazy lines and graffiti.

and IT FELT SO GOOD!!!!!!!!!!!!!

There is so much that we don’t say. Sometimes it’s because it’s not what ‘nice’ folks say. Sometimes we edit because it wouldn’t be very helpful. I’m not against this, I am for always moving towards a peaceful kind world. Knowing what is helpful or not to say in a situation is a wonderful skill to practice. Sometimes, in day to day situations the thing we could have said flits away shortly after the situation is over. Other times, when we feel more enmeshed in it, with the words and feelings having a dance party in your mind, it’s gotta come out. There’s lots of ways to do this, I have done many of them and at least for today, this was the most clean. There was a growing freedom as the process went on, in part because I was really getting into it, but the messiness of the page, the un-readableness of it was also freeing. No censorship of language or of what anyone is gonna think, or if someone overhears. Just letting it fly.

And my other painting, well, it had transitioned too, it got detail, connection, words that sometimes contradicted but in a poetic way.

In short, it was great.

Something I’m gonna try, next time there is a crazy dance party in my head, is going at a piece of paper with markers. Pretty soon it too will be a mis-mash of colors and my mind will have more clarity.

Walkin the path,


PS, I’ve blogged about Jenny’s work before, in Deeper into Oz.

PPS in case you noticed I didn’t refer to the title of this blog, verbal vomit is what I call the spew of gut reactions that is ‘icky’ (in NVC language, ‘jackal’) that is sometimes needed before a more ‘enlightened’ response is possible. What I painted on my words page today was a big ol’ pile of it.

Breathing and Balance

9 Jan

This weekend I went on a grand adventure to Colorado. (which is why my previous post is about my bear in the airport)

We were at a lovely camp at the base of Horn peak in the Sangre de Cristo range. I was there to provide logistical support for the Uniteen and YOU events.

The tricky thing about this grand and glorious view is that it’s about 8000 feet above sea level. I spend most of my time around 1000 feet above sea level. There is a lot less oxygen up there in the mountains, and I could feel it.

There has also been warm weather (for CO)  and the snow had melted and re-froze, so there was plenty of ice-slicks. In my first 6 hours at the camp I fell seriously twice and not so severely a couple more times. (yes, my body still hurts, and I’ll survive)

The theme for the weekend quickly became breathing and balance. While this has an obvious  physical element, it was about so much more than that.

When I arrived at the camp, I certainly needed some time to get acclimated to ice walking, but I wasn’t feeling very balanced in general. That night as I lay in bed feeling the aches I had accumulated, I affirmed my balance and released anything that was pulling me away from balance. I visualized myself walking carefully and safely and released any fear related to getting hurt. In short, I invoked a state of mindfulness.

Anyone who has seen me at an event I’m running knows I move at a rapid pace. This time though, I found myself breathing heavily after just going up one flight of stairs and down a long hall. I am not used to functioning at a slower pace and even knowing it was the altitude and there was nothing ‘wrong’ with me, I found myself bumping against my own expectations. Physically, I adjusted by bringing myself into the practice of mindfully deep breathing when going up stairs or hills. Mentally I reminded myself that everything would be done that needed to be done and that it was OK to be slower than I expect. When it’s just me, I don’t mind so much, but I don’t want to let anyone down with something as important to me as these teen events. Not that anyone was wanting me to be faster than was physically wise except me. Which meant it was time for a mental breath.

A few months ago I was helping out with the same event in the Plains community and I led the group in an intention ceremony where everyone wrote on an acorn the thing to remember from the event.

I chose the word breathe. The week before my awesome teens had facilitated the Sunday service at church and I had been the soloist. One of the songs had been pretty fast and I had to be mindful about breath support to make it through. When coaching one of my teens in reading the meditation for the service I told her to simply take a breath at each period and more than one breath between the paragraphs. It was a beautifully paced meditation… why? Because of the breath.

This weekend we did the intention ceremony again (not with acorns this time, the only natural thing we could have collected would have been snow, and that doesn’t pack well). As I breathed into the ceremony there was no question to me that once again my word would be breathe.

While I am not a fan of this experience of thin air, I am grateful for the reminder of such basic mindfulness. When I mindfully breathe I am automatically coming back to balance, physically, spiritually, and emotionally, enabling me to respond more effectively to whatever situation is before me.

Breathe well my friends


Bears in airports

5 Jan


Who is that girl walking thru the airport with a teddy bear? Yea, it’s me. Frosty and I have gone through lots if airports together. It would be weird to me to be at a YOU/uniteen event without her.

What had been interesting to note about this time to me is my non-interest in whether anyone cares/notices.

In my conversations with other folks, I have learned I’m not the only one who still likes to sleep with their stuffed animal of choice.

So, rock it y’all, if it works, work it. Don’t worry about what anyone else thinks.

Frosty and I are sending hugs