Category Archives: empowerment

Drawing power from thin air

Staying connected during times of social upheaval

“Every once in a while, a salesman will enter your midst who knows how to influence you towards something that is important to him and inspire you to see him as the solution. It makes no difference who thinks they are in control of you, they aren’t.  Tap into the leverage of being connected to your own power.”- Ester Hicks

Listening to a  recent talk by author Ester Hicks, a pioneer of spiritual thought,  I was reminded how marvelous our internal resources are.  The stream that flows through us constantly offers us solutions to the problems that crop up in our midst. My wife, Julia, often reminds me not to take on the energy of injustice but to use my love to bring about the results I desire .

“When you connect to your own power you cannot feel fear at the same time. The only bad thing that can happen to you is that you temporarily use some bogus thing as your reason for not knowing your power. When you don’t know your power than you give it to someone else. There are plenty of others that will say, “I will take your power from you. I will let you believe that I am the most important thing in the world to you.” It doesn’t matter which group is in power, they are not ever the vortex through which your good comes but they are often the subject by which you deny your own vortex. You have a vibrational cache that you have access to at all times. The only disempowerment that can come to you is to use anything as an excuse not to tap into that.”- Ester Hicks

In the midst of social upheaval, there are always examples of those who are tapping into their stream, their ‘vortex’, or the energy that observes and is us.

Max Loughan, at thirteen, created a generator that pulls and converts electricity from the air for less than fifteen dollars.

When interviewed, he said:

“I just want to invent a better future, I don’t care if I get money or credit, all I’m looking at is to make the world a better place, to advance it.”

This is a boy who knows that energy is not confined to his ego.

Connecting to what is ours to claim may seem selfish to some but our true power takes us beyond the tyranny of our ego’s need for validation and into a poetic state where…

“Everything that was broken has

Forgotten its brokenness…How can this be, but

it is. Every day has something in

it whose name is Forever.”

-Mary Oliver/ Everything that was broken

Going beyond the need for names to define our connection to what connects us, may your alignment give rise to the actions that bestow freedom.











Speeches of Acceptance – worth the gold

After a successful weekend in Kansas City at the Folk Alliance International with amazing musicians from around the world, Julia and I got to watch the Academy Awards.  What struck us were some of the acceptance speeches. JK Simmons started by telling children to call their parents.  Then, without anger or histrionics, an actor, a writer and musicians stood up, not for themselves alone but for their particular portion of humanity.  Beyond the nit-picking of behavior and evaluating performances and dresses, people from around the globe were treated to earnest concern and bravery.  With the overlapping of these speeches alone, the bridge towards our collective humanity gets a boost in production.
That was worth the price of watching.
 “To every woman who gave birth, to every taxpayer and citizen of this nation, we have fought for everybody else’s equal rights. It’s time to have wage equality once and for all. And equal rights for women in the United States of America.” – P.A.
We stand in solidarity with Commons, John Legend, MLK and all of those who long to see this truly be the land of the free and the home of the brave.
“…the same bridge that Dr. King and the people of the Civil Rights movement marched on, 50 years ago. This bridge was once a landmark of a divided nation, but now it’s a symbol for change. The spirit of this bridge transcends race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, and social status. The spirit of this bridge connects a kid from the South Side of Chicago dreaming of a better life to those in France standing up for their freedom of expression to the people in Hong Kong protesting for democracy. This bridge was built on hope, welded with compassion, and elevated by love for all human beings.
Thank you. Nina Simone said it’s an artist’s duty to reflect the times in which we live. We wrote this song for a film that was based on events that were 50 years ago, but we say Selma is now, because the struggle for justice is right now. We know that the voting rights, the act that they fought for 50 years ago is being compromised right now in this country today. We know that right now the struggle for freedom and justice is real. We live in the most incarcerated country in the world. There are more black men under correctional control today than were under slavery in 1850. When people are marching with our song, we want to tell you that we are with you, we see you, we love you, and march on.
from Commons and John Legend’s acceptance speech at the Oscar’s.
“I tried to commit suicide at 16 and now I’m standing here,” he said. “I would like for this moment to be for that kid out there who feels like she doesn’t fit in anywhere. You do. Stay weird. Stay different, and then when it’s your turn and you are standing on this stage please pass the same message along.” – Graham Moore
 “Call your mom. Call your dad. If you are lucky enough to have a parent or two alive on this planet, call them. Don’t text, don’t email, call them on the phone. Tell them you love them and thank them and listen to them as long as they want to talk to you.”- JK Simmons

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.)


Take up your post and beam out hope!

Sometimes it seems that we are placed within various mediums and appointed posts throughout the spectrum of humanities’ belief system to remind us that the stream flows through everything.
Cat Stevens seemed to disappear into Islam only to remerge as Yusef.  The Peace Train is still in motion with a voice that helps us understand the sweet breadth and depth of Muslims in our midst, while laying down tracks to the universal depot.
My good friend Jordan Anderson seemed to disappear into Hip-Hop only to reemerge as Zwill. His latest video “Don’t Trip” is a call out to those struggling with sadness and isolation; a rope of hope on the waters of despair.
“Hold on just when your loosing your grip.”
“I can hear your voice I can hear your distant yell and I’m sending love to your every little cell.”
“Whatever shit your facing, never get to hating. There’s no such thing as problems, only situations. So face them, embrace them, even when your aching. Stay moving. Be patient. Keep waiting.  Whose advice have you been taking? ‘Cause first it fits great and then it starts chaffing. So take it off. Let your mind get naked.  Skinny dip, the water’s amazing.
Don’t you think our little blue dot is worth saving? That’s what I’m saying.
Whatever continent you stay in, I’m praying that we can join up on occasion and purify the water when the clouds start raining.
Life is heavy but as much as it’s weighing, there’s strength you haven’t even touched yet, I see it there. And when it hurts, at least your still breathing air.
I send you love, may you always be aware.” – Zwill
” Self-scrutiny, relentless observance of one’s thoughts, is a stark and shattering experience.  It pulverizes the stoutest ego. But true self-analysis mathematically operates to produce seers. … Man can understand no eternal verity until he has freed himself from pretensions. The human mind, bared to a centered slime, is teeming with the repulsive life of countless world-delusions. Struggles of the battlefield pale into insignificance here, when man first contends with inner enemies! … The one who practices a scalpel self-dissection will know an expansion of universal pity. Release is given him from the deafening demands of his ego.”
– Tall wandering sadhu talking to the young Yogananda from
Autobiography of a Yogi
Those that have wrestled with their angels and seen the intertwined suffering of the chain we have unwittingly wrapped around one another, can believe that it is merely depression they struggle with. As artists in our various mediums, from carpenters to teachers, therapists, musicians, actors, illustrators, instructors, mothers, fathers… we are vulnerable to what we perceive and what we hope to see for those we love and want to share our love with.
Here are
We can see within their ranks those who have provided us with strong tools to mine some laughing sanity in the shuffling madness*.
Douglas Adams- Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy…
Woody Allen- Midnight in Paris…
Agatha Christie- Poirot and Miss Marple…
Charles Dickens-  The Pickwick Papers…
T.S. Elliot- Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.
Vincent Van Gough- Starry Night…
Michalangelo- David…
Abraham Lincoln-  Emancipation Proclamation…
(*- reference to Locomotive Breath/ Jethro Tull)
Let’s take up our posts and beam out a message of hope for those who think they are in the void alone.


Awake to Awake- Yogananda holds up (more than time)

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

Empowerment on the road and in the ‘field’.

Julia and I went down to Baltimore for a couple of shows and had a showcase Monday night. Annalise Emerick was also featured.  She is a full time musician from Nashville and with the first word she sang, I knew she was great but felt comforted.  It made me feel we could open with something that had more depth rather than feeling we had to come out just ‘entertaining.’  Afterwards, we all had a great discussion with Jim Patton and Sherry Brokus who performed after us.  Annalise said (essentially) that she was tired of the paradigm where everyone elbowed each other out of the way to get closer to the top. She has decided that helping each other is healthier and provides more sanity and a richer experience on the road.  We agreed, we are out here making music as a way to uplift those around us and encourage more connection.  This lesson was accentuated by Jim and Sherry who offered us a showcase in the convention we are going to in February.  This may have been the reason why we went down to Baltimore and without this positive bonding interaction, we would have missed it.
The next morning over breakfast, one of our gracious hosts, Eric Reisman, talked about his desire to encourage empowerment over cynicism and overcome our social instinct to show we are strong by cutting each other down.  I told him our housemate George experienced this as a stand-up comedian going from an open mic where everyone was performing and no one was supporting anyone else to being in an improve troupe where there was empowerment and validation for succeeding.  This helped him go back to the open mic with a new open confidence that had the others coming up to him to validate that he had been successful that night and was improving. He in turn supported them and the isolation was dissipated.
On the way home yesterday, we listened to Daniel Ingram, who talked about enlightenment and how that entailed opening your mind beyond the thought that there is a central observer; that we are the point of causality but in fact are a part of a field of awareness that can become aware of itself. In Buddhism they call the first stage of enlightenment, “Stream entry” which I didn’t know before my friend Jenny Jennings Foerst turned me onto it a few days ago.  Daniel said once you have entered it is like you are a freshman in college;  yes, you are in college but you still have more to learn and see.  What I found fascinating was there are fetters to escape like greed and hate but there are goals that have no end point such as “How much kindness can you bestow?” “How much can you help to heal the world?” There is always room for improvement and refinement.
Overall, the weekend lifted us out of ourselves enough to cheer us on to the next chapter together.
May your week be enhanced by empowering those around you!
Love you, Ira