Category Archives: clarity

Opinions and hot sauce

Julia and I sang at the Falcon Ridge Folk Festival this weekend. It is a three day affair with lots of stages, showcases, and a chance to see fellow musicians, friends and friends who are musicians. On Sunday morning Julia and I were singing in front of the Meier’s hot sauce tent.  Julia had caught a bug and a horse which was galloping in her throat.  Still, we pulled off a rousing heartening set and the people gathered round were cheered.  After we played we could hear Susan Werner and two other acts on the main stage.
For a moment or three, I felt the pang of not being on the main stage but instead playing in front of a hot sauce tent.
My opinion that things should have been different in that moment or wanting them to be different caused me some suffering and doubt.   Yet here was Susan Werner, one of the most prolific songwriters and accomplished instrumentalists, equally as talented as any pop star in the world today on the main stage at Falcon Ridge, when she could be at Madison Square Garden or doing a co-bill with Bonnie Raitt.  Many of you will not know who she is.  Of course, there were many deserving musicians at the festival who would have loved to have been asked to play the hot sauce tent. It’s always all relative (and Meier’s hot sauce is great on eggs.)  While I pictured Julia and I up on the main stage again, deciding to be grateful and bring what we bring, we brought lots of folks up at the next showcase. We also spotlighted and praised many musicians as well as hard working musical promoters who often don’t get the recognition they deserve.  That’s my opinion.
Last night, I read what Pema Chodron had to say about opinions:
“Opinions are opinions, nothing more or less. All ego is, is our opinions, which we take to be solid, real, and the absolute truth about how things are.  …how easy it is to get into a war in which we want our opinions to win and someone else’s to lose. …no matter how well noble our cause is, it won’t be helped by our feeling aggression … Nothing will ever change through aggression.
We have to do our best and at the same time give up all hope of fruition.  One piece of advice that Don Juan gave to Carlos Casteneda was to do every as if it were the only thing in the world that mattered, while all the time knowing that it doesn’t matter at all.
There is nobody on the planet, who doesn’t have what it takes to wake up.  We all need support and encouragement to be aware of what we think, what we say, and what we do.  Notice your opinions. … Cultivating a mind that does not grasp at right and wrong will find a fresh state of being.  The ultimate cessation of suffering comes from that.  Finally, never give up on yourself.  Then you will never give up on others. Wholeheartedly do what it takes to awaken your clear-seeing intelligence, but one day at a time, one moment at a time. If we live that way, we will benefit this earth.”
– Pema Chodron/When Things Fall Apart
So, here is to giving what we have to give, regardless of opinions. May we be motivated by a clarity that allows us to see our circumference and the rippling effect of our efforts.
“May I suggest this is the best time of your life.”- Susan Werner

Signal awareness

Become your own assistance, not the drowning victim but the rescuing vessel. In the acceleration of madness, we can be the islands of sanity that come together to form a new continent of hope that supports life and kindness.

My Uncle Jeff was a humorous and noble sage.  One day he warned me to put a protection around myself while listening to sad music. He said that music was one of the most powerful conduits of energy and while it had the ability to transport us into higher realms, connect us to our essential selves, it could also keep us trapped in a limited perspective.

This was a time when I was enjoying riding around in the car listening to Joni Mitchell and early Steely Dan, reveling in a lonely melancholia.  He wasn’t telling me not to listen but to put a protection around myself so I didn’t take on the emotions internally and be influenced by them without awareness.

This can be applied to movies as well. Yesterday was Monday, which is often the weekend for Julia and I after lots of gigs.  We made wonderful brunch and watched a beautiful movie that was incredibly depressing. We had to consciously pull ourselves out of the vortex.  The day before we saw Tomorrowland which has a similar take-away message.  We are taking in a stream of messages from entertainment and media and it is helpful to put a protection around us; to consciously remember and choose where we would like to be within and without.

Conscious Choices and heightened results!

Stream of Light 12-22-14

Where love imposes new ideas we cringe but in a more malleable state, concur.  
What is the essence of fear and dread?
Becoming inconsequential, as if we never were, insignificant.
Being separated, isolated, alone; 
Losing Love.
Bring what you have to the table.
Increase what is given to you by implementing the grace into something that is transferrable.
Listen to what comes through without needing to bully it into submission.
Contemplate what makes us recognizable to one another.
This voice, this smile.
Why are they different?
Who does the distinguishing?
Where our roots lie our potential for connection is deep but we vibrate at various frequencies. 
What catches us in fullness and allows for our greatest outpouring maybe outside of our heritage.  
(There is no outside within.)


Juggling The Matzo Ball Soup Theory

My friend Aldene Burton had what he called the Matzo ball Soup theory, which was if you are traveling along and desire matzo ball soup then you will start to see deli’s that you may have passed a thousand times before without noticing.  Albert Einstein said that “mass and energy are both but different manifestations of the same thing,” and Marianne Willamson said, “You can live your life out of a circumstance or your life out of a vision.”
Now juggling these three concepts it occurs to me that we can begin to trust the process of focusing on what we only hope to see in our day to day reality without having to give in to the ItWillNeverWork! doubts and old tapes that vy for our attention.  Awakening to a desire for peace or a success that includes bringing happiness to others, for example,  will open our eyes to ways to succeed despite any roadblocks we have previously and routinely put in our way such as age, time restrictions, insecurity, painful history, and the thousand excuses that keep us mired in the laundry reality.  In our society, there is a strong undertow that suggests we are not enough, that we need to be constantly knocking on other people’s doors in the hopes that they will open up and recognize our worth. Even when this happens, it doesn’t mean that we will acknowledge it ourselves.
Walt Whitman in his Leaves of Grass, reminds us of what we are inherent to and what  grandeur we embody:
“Any man or woman shall stand cool and supercilious before a million universes…
I hear and behold God in every object, yet I understand God not in the least, Nor do I understand who there can be more wonderful than myself.  Why should I wish to see God better than this day? I see something of God each hour of the twenty-four, and each moment then, In the faces of men and women I see God, and in my own face in the glass;  I find letters from God dropped in the street, and every one is signed by God’s name, And I leave them where they are, for I know that others will punctually come forever and ever.”
-Walt Whitman
Old Walt, singing the body electric, increased his desire to see God’s letters and finds them in the street, he sees the matzo ball soup within himself and knows that he is the hub of the wheeled universe!  or as my good friend Marc Rosenberg once said:
“I am the pizza I ordered!”


Drake-ness and broad wholeness of being

I have been thinking of my friend Drake like picking up on a strong radio signal recently so when he called last night I wasn’t surprised but delighted.  Drake has been a living bridge between my wildest bohemian stance and my potential spiritual actualization.  We have always bonded in the present and regardless of time, what we hold is the assurance of each other’s wholeness.
He had just been on a tour into the South with his mother and had seen his family and heritage, including slave shacks.  He was struck by how little time had passed since these things had taken place.  He also reflected that the poverty and despair that linger are a way of looking at the world.  It becomes a mind set to break out of.  When he thought of his own struggle, working too hard, barely getting by, he set himself on his entirety.  “I have matured to the point of being in my full Drake-ness,” he said.  I love this.  This persona is an opportunity in motion! He encouraged me to become so broad that I can embrace the wholeness of my being.  “Let’s really be who we are this year,” he said.
Today, we are going to see our friend Daniel Cainer  who is here from London with an extended run of his Jewish Chronicles at the Soho Playhouse in NYC.  Daniel is a poignant and poetic singing storyteller who relates his history in a way that upholds all of humanity through a Jewish lens.  He has a song about how he played in Germany where there were no Jews.  He was asked to be part of an world arts festival.  He was well received but was struck by how the people he met actively denied and distanced themselves from their grandparents and what they did while he actively embraced who his grandparents were.
There is much to be gleaned from history and if we can stave off the negative mind set, we can liberate ourselves and those around us by upholding our light.
“Let’s really be who we are this year.”
– Drake Powe

Happy “Who discovered America?” Day!

Happy “Who discovered America?” day!  
Since it is a federal holiday in America and Columbus’ actions are hardly worth honoring, we could join Seattle and Minneapolis as they officially celebrate Indigenous People’s Day. However, although this seems like a step in the right direction, it isn’t nearly enough to really celebrate Native Americans, who discovered America 1,400 years before the lost  explorer, who wasn’t a very polite guest, usurped that title. So, let us take today and appreciate the wisdom that greeted us as we strove to create a land of freedom and liberty. 
While we are at it,  let’s celebrate one another too!
Columbus Day Is Now Indigenous People’s Day in Seattle A…

Some cities seek to change the second Monday in October to a more politically correct, inclusive holiday
Preview by Yahoo

“I salute the light within your eyes where the whole Universe dwells. For when you are at that center within you and I am that place within me, we shall be one.”

-Crazy Horse, Oglala Lakota Sioux (circa 1840-1877)

“In our every deliberation, we must consider the impact of our decisions on the next seven generations.”

– Iroquois Maxim (circa 1700-1800)

“Humankind has not woven the web of life. We are but one thread within it. Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves. All things are bound together. All things connect.”

– Chief Seattle, Duwamish (1780-1866)


“Being Indian is an attitude, a state of mind, a way of being in harmony with all things and all beings. It is allowing the heart to be the distributor of energy on this planet; to allow feelings and sensitivities to determine where energy goes; bringing aliveness up from the Earth and from the Sky, putting it in and giving it out from the heart.”  

– Brooke Medicine Eagle

“We, the great mass of the people think only of the love we have for our land, we do love the land where we were brought up. We will never let our hold to this land go, to let it go it will be like throwing away (our) mother that gave (us) birth.”. – Letter from Aitooweyah to John Ross, Principal Chief of the Cherokee.

When you know who you are; when your mission is clear and you burn with the inner fire of unbreakable will; no cold can touch your heart; no deluge can dampen your purpose. You know that you are alive.

– Chief Seattle, Duwamish (1780-1866)

Stream of Light 8-13-14

 Smile.  In an instant we can shift out of so many thoughts that serve to damage our momentum, like pot holes in the road.  Sickness is something that results from being disconnected from our source on some level.  It may bring those around us closer or it may bring us a calmer or deeper perspective but it is not the intended state of being.  Being at peace with where we are sometimes means recognizing that we are not our sickness, it does not define us.Knowing that we are light years away from the image we hold of ourselves while we are sick is the same as the smallest particle of energy being animated as if by remote control.  We are here and we are also safe and whole within and without.  The seeming paradox is explained by knowing that all things are connected and that seperation is an illusion. Focus on your blood rushing through your veins and your cells dancing and your heart beating and fathom the intricate balence of everything that occurs within a single breath.  Be at peace and smile.  This is not a denial of what is but a means to return.

Joseph Campbell: Pez Dispenser of Myths

Joseph Campbell was perhaps the most celebrated and beloved cosmic Pez dispenser of the wisdom and meaning of myths in every culture, religion and philosophy on this little planet of ours. Not only was he the author of a myriad of liberating books such as The Power of Myth and The Hero with a Thousand Faces, he was George Lucas’s consultant for the original Star Wars Trilogy.  His talks with Bill Moyers on PBS are the stuff of legends, (literally).
In Reflections on The Art of Living he talks of leaving the university where he was studying Celtic Romance.  He had taken all the classes he needed for a PHD but before he wrote his dissertation, he began wandering through Europe where his real education began.  He discovered James Joyce, Picasso, the 1927 crew of writers and artists in Paris .  He realized that when getting a degree, you are not learning but doing what you are told to get the paper. He didn’t think he could go back into that bottle, so he walked away from getting his PHD and spent five years in the Depression up in Woodstock reading books.  Then he drove out to California and a friend of his drove with him to Carmel and introduced him to John Stienbeck, who got him a place to stay.  Joseph became involved with the characters in Steinbeck’s Cannery Row and he was the impetus for the big party in that book.  His wanderings led him to his understanding that, “as Schopenhauer says when you look back on your life, it looks as though it were a plot, but when you are into it, it’s a mess: just one surprise after another. Then, later, you see it was perfect. So, I have a theory that if you are on your own path things are going to come to you. Since it’s your own path, and not one has ever been on it before, there’s no precedent, so everything that happens is a surprise and is timely.”
Essentially he advises us to leave the wasteland of our own stagnation and fears, forget what other people think of us and follow our bliss to our true center where the treasure lies and amidst those jewels, peace itself.

Stream of Light 7-22-14

When out of shame or a painful memory someone unexpectedly shows you a courtesy, something simple, you are allowed to experience what has been intended for us all: Dignity and release from all cruelty.  Life is not meant to be controlled and manipulated into fear and separation. Take the laughter inherent in your heart and braid it into bread that you can feed those around you.

Endings and beginnings are subject to change, nothing is as tragic as we imagine it to be.  Life is more of a comedy than we realize.  Lighten up and proceed with the joy of your bliss.

Bon Apetit Jered Nelson! and “Put down your phone, pick up a poem!”

Last week I wrote about my friend Jered, who is expanding his pottery business and training and hiring local potters.
He didn’t make his kickstarter goal but because he and his family put it out into the universe that they needed a specific amount of money and were open to receiving it, it came through in a different form.  Happily, this week a couple of investors loaned them exactly what they needed and Bon Apetit magazine is going to do something about Jered!
“Funny how that happens,” his wife Sarah Kobrinsky said.
This is an amazing example of how when we come to a place of knowing what we want to manifest and decide it is going to happen and are not shaken by appearances, but remain fully engaged, we can recognize our good when it comes to us and take it up with discernment and gratitude.  Julia often reminds me to ask for the best thing to happen for everyone involved.
Sarah also has a project as the Poet Laureate of Emeryville which is Poems on the Emery Go-Round, (the free shuttle bus service in Emeryville.)  Their tagline is:
“Put down your phone, pick up a poem!”
The city just approved her Call for Submissions and here is the link:

If you are a poet or know a poet in the SF Bay Area, please pass this on!