The aim is not to bravely withstand the spring torrents of the river,
Nor to bask under a lazy summer sun while floating down its siphoned stream.

The aim is not to ferry ourselves out with the debris of a decaying fall suddenly upon us, Nor to hide in the chilling calm beneath its crystalline shroud.

No, the aim is not to master or ride with the river.

Be the river.

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As within, so without

spiral roseStructure. Schedule. Routine.

Things we alternately chafe at and crave. I recently had a huge shift in perspective on structure. Juggling my business, kids, husband, singing, energy work, physical care, and life in general is… well… busy at best, and often just overwhelming. I knew August would be hectic, punctuated with three trips, spotty child care, out-of-town visitors, and a lot of client work. I kept saying to myself (and anyone who would listen), “Just wait for September when school starts. It will get easier and my time will free up… it’s all good.”

Life threw me not one, but several curve balls in my direction at the end of August and, honestly, I was reeling. I found pouring over my calendar and to-do lists, desperately trying to reconcile the demands on my time with the lack of time each day seemed to scream at me. I thought about what I could cancel and push off. It felt awful.

During this experience, I was suddenly touched by grace and awareness, and something moved inside of me on all levels — heart, head and physical body. Structure, schedule, routine? Bah. They are not real, they are illusion. The only structure there could possibly be can only arise from within the core of my being. I AM THE STRUCTURE. If I don’t create it from the inside, it does not exist at all.

I invite you to sit with this concept. Feel into “structure on the outside”… how does that feel? And then, feel into the “structure on the inside.” How does that feel? What are the differences? If you feel moved, I’d love to hear from you.

From the music in my soul to yours.

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Primordial Silence

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For ten years, I have been journeying back in to Saint Regis Pond in the Adirondack Mountains in New York. Because of “busy-ness,” my husband and I did not get there last year at all. This past weekend, with seven-year-old son with us, we trekked our way back into the pond once again.

It is grueling. One packs all their gear into a non-motorized boat (canoe or kayak) and then paddles across Little Lake Clear. After unpacking on the far shore, all that gear (and the boat) have to be carried on foot about one mile until you reach the bog that opens up into Saint Regis Pond. After avoiding tumbling gear, person and boat into the black-ish, oozing-with-life-waters off of a narrow foot dock tilting at a solid 20-degree pitch, you then launch through a winding marsh into Saint Regis Pond.

Two years’ absence is too long. I cannot describe what it is like adequately, all I can do is provide snapshots, feelings, and observations.

This is a place of silence. Deep silence. A silence so powerful, it is a visceral pressure you can feel in your eardrums. The silence is deafening.

This is a place of life, uninterrupted. Uninterrupted by Man, specifically. Very few have been there (relatively speaking) and almost all hold it with reverence and tread lightly, adhering to the “carry in-carry out” mantra. Nothing is disturbed by humans. There is an energetic permeation of life doing its living and we are there merely to witness life rolling on.

Loons occasionally dot the water, and, if you are lucky, they frolick and play before they dive. In the deepest part of the night, you can hear loons and owls (and small critters, nothing large for me ever, thankfully) calling out. The calls echo across lake to lake to lake and seem to go on forever.

The land is buzzing. It is so alive in every aspect. The forest vegetation feels so ancient. It all just goes on and on…moss and lichen carpet the forest floor. Sparkly spider webs dance on every tree in the morning sunlight. Eons of layers of leaves have made the ground spongy to the step. Fish jump. Turtles and snakes sun themselves. Duck families hug the shorelines. Geese honk and flap across the mirror-like waters in early morning, splashing and playing as they lift into eventual flight.

Here, one can tap into the power and purity of Mother Earth. One can commune with life as it unfolds in its natural rhythms. There is no interference, no disturbance. You observe, then you become part of it.

Here, one can feel how this ecosystem rolls on and on and on… white, frozen winters… fragant, bursting springs… breezy, vibrant summers… lilting, dying falls… untouched, uncaring about Man and our world. Man’s cultures, politics and religions; man’s problems, challenges and victories; mans’ wars and innovations; man’s dis-ease and heaviness on this Earth.

Here, one feels purity and understands what pristine really means. There is no compromise with intruding concrete, no sawed off limbs to make way for power lines, no soil that has been tilled until it can produce no more; no water sullied by man’s chemicals and waste… Here, the trees breathe differently. Freely, completely.

Here, this time, I found an energy I had unknowlingly left a few years ago. An energy of balance and joy with my spouse. I was so surprised, but there it was, waiting for me. Unblemished, unhurried, vibrating on and on. I consciously brought it back into me (into us) and surrendered to the Universe to transmute the mutated energies that have been building over two years. The energies of resentment, fear, confusion… sneaking in and infringing on the flow of the relationship.

I am so blessed to be part of Saint Regis Pond and always leave it with gratitude and a grounding I can find nowhere else. It is gratitude that arises from my soul, and a nourishing that sustains me like nothing else. Although it is punishing on the body, I always return replenished and rejuvenated. I get my mojo back.

Friends wonder (and understandably so) why we go through so much work to get to Saint Regis Pond, punishing our bodies and sacrificing comfort. After all, it’s a pond (lake really) with dotted islands, hills, trees… the same stuff you can find by much easier means. But, you can’t. It is life living true to itself and nothing else, uninterrupted, wildly exquisite, and it holds you in its embrace while you rest there a very short while. And if you’re really lucky, I might even tell you how to get there.

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Full Circle

There was a time when I felt my blog was too raw… and I stopped. There is a time (now) when I feel drawn toward expressing once again. Welcome back.

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All This

This gallery contains 2 photos.

Part One My heart was shattered upon the wave of death that crested without intention, ensconced in innocence, yet crashing nevertheless on thousands of beating hearts, and hopeful lives. Stilled. Stuck and strewn, I became helpless against the tide of … Continue reading

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Storm Ground

Snow gently falls, but all I can see is the haze it forms in the pre-dawn light across the street and beyond. Bundled up on my porch and safely planted on an Adirondack chair in the corner, I take it all in with peace flowing through me. I sink into the quiet, the weight, the deep holding all around me. And, I realize in one moment, how important this is to my well-being.

I hear a snow plow blade strike the ground in the distance and I am instantly taken back to December 11, 2008 and the huge ice storm that left over 250,000 upstate New Yorkers in the bone-chilling dark, tossing my life into a whirlwind for the next week as I was the front-line person leading the communication and fundraising efforts for our local Red Cross. On that night a few years ago, my husband shook me awake around 3:00 a.m. “Come with me,” he said briskly. I felt a little scared, but got dressed and obliged without a word.

I stepped out to our front porch and into a world of surreal wonder. Tinkling and crackling sounds were everywhere. Tree branches hit and rubbed and shuddered against each other. I heard the tell-tale, pit-pat spit of ice striking every surface it could land on as it fell unrelenting from the gray sky. The light was eery, the sounds eerier. I heard pops and buzzing as powerlines went down, crashing into trees and then heard the great groan of the splitting tree trunks that had been standing for decades give way to the massive crush. I saw bursts of light in the sky as power transformers breathed their last gasp in a big display of firepower, then went out, silent and still.

I walked into several days of 4-6 hours of sleep a night, handling endless media coordination and interviews, managing staff and volunteers and looking for money. I drove myself hard and was filled with purpose and excitement and gave great thanks that I could make a difference in such meaningful ways. But, what I needed most at that time was to do exactly what I am doing now because I always drove myself hard. I needed to hunker down into the holding of the storm, nestling myself in Mother Nature’s arms and flowing with her rhythms and not fighting them.

I love weather, always have. My husband fondly jokes that I should have been a meteorologist. The default station on our TV is the Weather Channel. The one and only nationally televised interview I did for the Red Cross was for the Weather Channel. The first app I downloaded onto my iPhone was enhanced weather. My fascination with the drama of weather made my job at the Red Cross that much more fun and exhilarating. And it made me better.

But, there was a dark side I am only now seeing. Innocent, no intent, but I realize now clearly that I gain significant grounding and replenishment from the storms that slow our lives down and turn our everyday lives off for a brief respite. The snow that means spontaneous days home with the kids, perhaps cooking a rich pasta sauce, shoveling and sledding, brewing hot cocoa, movies and toasty fires. Rain that means big books and cups of tea nestled under blankets for the day. Thunderstorms that drive the cats under the furniture and the rest of us to the porch to grab our favorite chairs to watch it blow by. Wind storms that breathe life throughout the house and swooshes curtains all night long in a chorus of “ah”.

I worked at an intense job in an intense environment and was constantly challenged to be “on” and when the weather poured in, we poured it on even more. Ironically, it was those times of weather that moved me into serious action, yet I most needed to be out of action and recharging — rocking on my front porch, or burrowing deeper under the covers, or walking in the warm summer rain, or shoveling winter white.  I never seemed to rest and I stripped away from myself, unwittingly, the best rest I could get by the very nature of the job at hand. I had the best job ever at the Red Cross, I loved it beyond measure, but it was killing me. And now I know another reason why.

The light is increasing, and the clock tells me dawn is upon us. I’ll ponder this a bit more while I shuffle into the kitchen from the porch to brew a pot of coffee and place more logs on the fire. If I’m lucky, I’ll be in pajamas all day.

Chestnut Hill during a snowfall.

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Gift of Soul Song

While it seems quiet on the outside, my world has been transforming so fast on the inside that I can hardly stand to keep up and I am amazed at the erupting earthquakes, running rivulets, sudden volcanoes, warm sunshine, soft breezes, and stormy weather that has dappled my inner world for some time now.

My ability to sing has been my greatest gift and curse. My ego and heart got all intertwined with my voice early in my life and a over the years a thorny rose bush grew around it. I enjoyed public success as a youngster and skated on natural talent for years. And, perhaps more importantly, my singing garnered love and approval from my parents, something I did not receive enough of for just being me.

Somewhere in college, performing and stage became big, real and too scary for me. Singing as a singer is so vulnerable. Your heart is literally splayed open for all to see. I could still sing while acting in a part in a musical, or as a choral group with perhaps a solo or two. But, my calling is not to be a chorus girl so this just did not quite work out. Through a series of sad twists and turns, I turned my back on singing and shut my mouth and heart to song for almost 10 years.

Part of my awakening happened at 30 — I was in a dying marriage, depressed, a work-a-holic and would fantasize my eulogy because the only way out was the breast cancer I was going to get. Fortunately, I had enough energy and sight to see the signals the Universe kept giving me and my Spiritual Guide and Voice Teacher was plopped in front of my path. I woke up.

I began to sing again, untangle my heart, and started the long task of weeding around that rose bush, unraveling years of damage and chaos, rage and sorrow and heaping piles of still-moist fear. And the last 12 years have been a glorious journey of awakening and stripping away to uncover the real me, the shining rose.

About a year ago, I was triggered doubly — by reading Deborah King’s book “Truth Heals” and by going back to my singing. . . . AGAIN after another hiatus, this time three years after a successful concert tour with my group in Poland. . . I got my spade all the way to the roots and dug even deeper, doing searing inner work supported by my Sufi Spiritual Guide and Deborah King’s healing gifts. I named the ultimate fear strangling my blossom and reached a place black, velvety holding for my singing. Since this work, I’ve dabbled in a few things —  singing at a fundraiser, a wedding, a funeral —  each time, testing to see if my new-found serenity and safety would hold. They did.

About a month ago, an opportunity came wafting along in a casual conversation. Two prominent musicians and fellow alumni from my alma mater, the University of Notre Dame – ironically, the time and place where so much of my pain around my singing occurred – are producing two albums of alumni musicians and vocalists. Alumni and students are invited to submit their music for inclusion via an audition process. I felt inspired and moved. I kicked up my lessons, began the search for a venue, a pianist and a recording engineer, and a way to financially afford a professionally recorded demo, something I have never done. 

Until last night. After a month of hard work, but a lifetime of preparation, I walked into a cavernous, cold Church, was supported by a talented pianist and an engineer with an impeccable ear. . . and I sang out filling the space and warming the night. I sang freely with joy. As part of the balancing and tweaking process, I listened to several takes of the first piece (Samuel Barber’s “Sure on this Shining Night”) so I could hear what I needed to shift to achieve better balance, tone, color. . .  I’ve always been able to make adjustments on the fly.

During the fourth take of this magnificent art song, I was flooded with the presence of St. Cecilia, the Christian patron saint of singers, and St. Germain, the Ascended Master with the purifying violet flame of transmutation. You see, I had meditated and sent them on ahead of me earlier that evening, asking them to clear and prepare the space and to hold me while I sang. Then, promptly forgot all about them. As I was singing, all of a sudden, there they were. I finished the song as if on angels’ wings. . . and all was quiet. I hung my head in awe, the pianist and producer had nothing to say. An energy hung in the air that was not to be disturbed, but absorbed. That was it, that was the one. I bounced over to listen on the headset and played it all back. A few lines into the song, I started weeping, and soon, crumpled to the floor, overcome with the beauty of the sound coming back at me in stereo. I simply wept. I did not care that a huge lump was forming in my throat or that mascara was running or that snots were gathering dangerously at the tickling point of my nose. Perhaps for the first time, I was experiencing myself clearly and truly – and there was present a mystical, alchemical mix of tight technique, fine voice and full heart. A gift from the heavens, and recorded to share.

I stepped into myself and the Universe stepped me up higher. I walked through a portal last night. I noticed and am still noticing that my third and fourth chakras are activated in a way never before. I feel them spinning, running on energy and shimmering. I hear the thrum of their exquisite vibrational song. The energy field around me has shifted. . . I am experiencing a shift in visual perception and I fill the space like never before. I feel tall in the space where I am, literally. This is power without ego, joy without worry, freedom without fear. Authentically me, blossoming and stretching toward my sun.

Because I took this step in self-healing and empowerment with courage, trust and full giving of my heart and gifts, I know the Universe will be right there to meet me. Whether I get into this CD project or not does not matter (although I think I will be on the CD, it feels suspiciously “right” and just ironic enough to satisfy the sense of humor I always seem to experience with Universal lessons). Doors will open, opportunities will come, my gift is to be shared, and at 42, I’m finally ready.

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