Category Archives: celebration

The One Word that Makes America Really America

A Contemplation for Our 241st Birthday

I read a book in which an Aboriginal tribe asks why we celebrate birthdays. They point out that we get older regardless. That, in itself, is not a reason to celebrate.

“We celebrate if we are a better, wiser person this year than last. Only you would know, so it is you who tells the others when it is time to have the party.”- Mutant Message Down Under/ Marlo Morgan

Today is America’s birthday. It is up to each of us, individually, to decide if the collective spirit within our land has become better and wiser.

There is a part of me that wants to rail out against the plans to defund our public libraries, the first of which was founded by Benjamin Franklin. The current efforts to privatize our public museums, parks, and schools, for me, diminishes the flame that fires our collective imagination and soul.

Emma Lazarus was the Jewish poet who gave our Statue of Liberty these words to proclaim:

“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses, yearning to breathe free.”

I feel the pilgrims, the founding fathers and Emma would all be ashamed at our current lack of hospitality.

Still, there is a part of me that appreciates that we were the first nation to not be ruled by a king. Our ideal is that America can be ruled by the people, for the people.  A nation that recognizes its inhabitants are…

“created equal…endowed…with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.”- Thomas Jefferson

To me, America is all of humanity living peacefully, boldly, as weird as we want to be.

There is an image conjured up in the TV show, This is US, of an abstract painting. While the painting is a metaphor for life, it can also apply to us here in the US.

“We all get to come along and we add our own color to the painting…

And these colors that we keep adding, what if they keep getting added on top of one another, until, eventually, we’re not even different colors anymore? Just one thing, one painting?

Not you, me or them, it’s just us. And this sloppy, wild, magical thing that has no beginning and no end is right here. I think it’s US.”- This Is Us – Kevin’s Painting of Life

I am celebrating today because I am grateful that, at this point, we still have the one word that really makes America truly beautiful.

We still have a free press and can share the ideas of those we admire. So, I would like to allow the American author Tom Robbins the chance to reveal this one word to you:

“The word that allows yes, the word that makes no possible.
The word that puts the free in freedom and takes the obligation out of love.
The word that throws a window open after the final door is closed.
The word upon which all adventure, all exhilaration, all meaning, all honor depends.
The word that fires evolution’s motor of mud.
The word that the cocoon whispers to the caterpillar.
The word that molecules recite before bonding.
The word that separates that which is dead from that which is living.
The word no mirror can turn around.
In the beginning was the word and that word was,,,


 ~ Tom Robbins/ Still Life With Woodpecker

From the far right, to the far left, from the Jimi Hendrix museum in Seattle to the Pride-filled sunsets of Key West, from the nude beaches in San Diego, to the bilingual English and French speaking residents at the tip of Maine, and everyone in between, the CHOICE is still yours!

Happy 4th of July!


The Floating Dock- a week’s reflection

“Climb back singing. Climb praising as you return to connection. Here among the disappearing, in the realm of the transient, be a ringing glass that shatters as it rings. Be. And know as well the need to not be: let that ground of all that changes bring you to completion now.” – Rilke-Sonnets to Orpheus,( II, 13 h)/ A Year with Rilke /Translated and Edited by Joanna Macy and Anita Barrows
“Push will wear you out. When you’re pushing to do something, you only got so much willpower. But when you’re pulled, when there’s something larger than yourself that you’re here to serve and that you believe you’re made for, that brings energy.”- Tony Robbins
 FullSizeRender (4)– photo: Julia Bordenaro Levin
Last night Julia and I were driving out to a nearby lake and I pondered what I would write about today for the stream.  I felt I had nothing to offer today and it bothered me. We started our walk around the lake and Julia immediately started taking pictures. The poetry of her surroundings is always calling out to her. As we were in motion, the week started coming back to me. We had a marathon of gigs last weekend, including two commemorative healing concerts for 9/11 with our friend Judy Kass. There is a group of folks from a marvelous collective called Peace through Play who came to one of our shows and danced and danced.  Getting to play music that inspires and provokes dancing or seeming stillness is an honor that completes and generates concentric joy.  We got home from this eighth concert in four days and instead of turning on the tube and tuning out, we picked up on a suggestion we got from our beloved clowns, Coventry and Kaluza, and watched a documentary about Tony Robbins called,  I Am Not Your Guru.  Watching the first part of it, energized us and cut through our mental and emotional fatigue.  Here is someone who has been gathering people from around the world for over twenty years to reach them where they are to raise them up to their own potential.  Authenticity, Joy and Honesty are the pillars that Tony stands on like a giant tiger and he is not afraid to face down anything.
Watching this show ramped us up for the week.  We got to jam with an amazing rhythm section as we prepare to begin our next recording.  We have continued a 30-day cleansing where we are eating only whole and natural foods. So instead of keeping ourselves awake with popcorn, snacks or something easy to grab while coming back from Long Island late at night, we stopped at a grocery store and felt like we were riding together with Coventry- Kaluza as we laughingly binged on bananas, raisins, sunflower seeds and almonds.  The nutritional shift has restored a clarity of thought.
One of my mom’s friends from the theater passed away this week. She had been a major force for getting my mom into the theater.  She was a tremendous inspiration and motivation for me as well.  I was practically a member of her family. In fact, her son and I were tremendous friends.  I called him and although we haven’t talked in a while it stoked the fire between us.  His mom had dementia, so he recognized the blessing of her passing.  We all remember her for the firebrand she was and is within us.  I realized that with the intensity of our schedules, it would have been easy to allow myself to think that his mom’s passing was sad without taking the time to reach out, touch base, reflect and rejoice in what her life offered us and so many people. 
Walking last night brought the turning back to me.  I could feel the curve of the year pulling me towards the change rising, blossoming within me.  What we are capable of is intertwined with the delight we take in connection.  As Rilke said, “All becoming has needed me. My looking ripens things and they come toward me, to meet and be met.”*
So much happens in a week, we take so much in but the simple act of walking around a lake can not only bring it all back but remind us to allow what we have gathered to germinate so that what we have to offer is something we were born to give.
*The Book of Hours I, I/ A Year with Rilke/ Translated and Edited by Joanna Macy and Anita Barrows
 The photo on top is a picture Julia took along the lake yesterday of the “floating dock”.

Celebrate Everything

Throughout my life, I have been one to celebrate and go wild in appropriate and inappropriate moments.  Sometimes, despite everything going on around me, I am barely contained with an unreasonable joy.

There are other times when I have bullied myself into misery because I feel that my short comings, or lack of accomplishment on a social scale doesn’t measure up or that various aspects of my personality are, “Just not right”.

I have beaten myself up saying, “With all that you have read and for as long as you have practiced, you should know better, you should be better.”

I once heard something that explained the difference between should and could. Should is shaming, could opens the door to possibility.

Matt KhanMatt Khan has a long talk on celebration and listening to it opened a door for me this week.  He said that we usually wait to celebrate until we have accomplished something, or until things look different.

He suggested that by celebrating every aspect of ourselves, especially the parts we detest in our behavior, as a part of something divine, we can accept who we are on a deeper level with humor and lighten up.

What usually happens as I know so well is that we beat ourselves up for not being this or that and then we take a break to console ourselves by eating a carton of ice-cream, or drinking a bottle, or something equivalent and then feel shame and go back to the beatings (until morale improves ; )

Matt said that when you are eating the ice-cream, drinking, smoking, whatever it is, consciously celebrate it, enjoy the crap out of it because that pulls the plug on the shame which loves to point out that this makes us less than divine because we are indulging ourselves.

He suggested you sing out all of your bad thoughts and behaviors, “Here I am being passive aggressive!”  or “The person in front of me in line is wearing perfume…when will they die?”

Matt: “Celebrate with embellished honesty. Admit what is totally true about your worst qualities and crank up the enthusiasm until you laugh.”

Even doing simple things throughout the day, like opening the refrigerator door you can, “Anchor gratitude to increase your self-worth to bring forth higher energy for all.”

I know I am leaning heavily on this one video talk today but it really addresses something I have been struggling with for a long time. I compartmentalize myself.  I recognize where my inconsistencies are and disqualify myself from allowing this moment to be triumphant.

Matt: “Arrogance is thinking you are better than other people, confidence is celebrating the uniqueness of yourself.  Arrogance is a comparison.  The one thing we are looking for is confidence.

Confidence to accept everything as divinity whether you understand it or not and to celebrate yourself in all your imperfect perfection.

When you celebrate, life stops devastating you.

If you take the time to celebrate what you have a problem with, you will change the energy.

We are not denying people’s pain, we are certainly not laughing at people’s pain, we are liberating them from pain by cranking up the celebration in our own lives so that something different can arise within them.”

So my friends, let’s rock!  Let the wildly honest rumpus begin!

Amyrose: Compassionate portraits

Our knowledge and wisdom is never a possession as much as a circuit completed. Where we know how act on impulse and allow sweetness through to increase awareness, we all bask in that warmth.


Julia and I are in Iowa this week. We got to stay with our friend Amy.  Julia and Amy went to college together and we have all remained close.  After being  in the car for nine hours, Julia got out and hugged Amy.  Standing there watching them, I was struck by how powerful the love of friendship is.  It was as if whatever internal grime each had stored up was released as they stood there crying.

Amy has a very successful photography business, (Amyrose Photography) and not only works with weddings, high school seniors and children but she has started taking portraits of women over fifty.  Some women come to her saying they haven’t been photographed for over thirty years.  We were treated to a photo session ourselves and Amy not only puts you at your ease but gives you tips on how to position yourself to maximize your beauty.  She has a fun wardrobe and knows how to apply makeup to your best advantage.  Certainly she makes a good living but the service she provides is invaluable.  I became aware of how it felt to have someone pulling for you, earnestly working for your benefit.  To be seen by someone who cares is a moment that cuts through so many moments when you have been beaten down.  To then have a record of that good feeling, so that not only do you see yourself as you can be but to have those in your life be able to see as well, opens a door that promotes change.  Amy said many of the women start taking care of themselves, where by their own admission they had stopped trying.

“Art is not what you see, but what you make others see.” –   Edgar Degas

“The common eye sees only the outside of things, and judges by that, but the seeing eye pierces through and reads the heart and the soul, finding there capacities which the outside didn’t indicate or promise, and which the other kind couldn’t detect.”  –   Mark Twain

“It is only with the heart that one can see rightly.  What is essential is invisible to the eye.” –   Antoine de Saint Exupery

…And as if she was a beloved reoccurring guest, like Paula Poundstone on NPR’s Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me, here is Pema Chodron:

“… the challenge is how to develop compassion right along with clear seeing, how to train in lightening up and cheering up rather than becoming more guilt-ridden and miserable. … From the very beginning to the very end, pointing to our own hearts to discover what is true isn’t just a matter of honesty but also of compassion and respect for what we see.”

May we all be seen and see one another with a clear heart.

“One act of kindness can overcome fate.” – Hafiz/ Ladinsky

Eulogy for a bold force of kindness

This week a woman Julia and I knew from a handful of gatherings, through a family that we are very close to, passed away. We were both moved by her passing as if we had known her our whole lives.  This was a woman who embodied the maternal. She did not apologize for being here.  She parted the waves of complacent ignorance.  Her laugh emptied you of fear and filled you with a support that encouraged your being to come forward.  She created an arena around her, a forum for whatever truth was present to be nourished. She was real in every sense of the word.  Her candor was so refreshing, not only did it put you at your ease but lightened you up so that you could laugh at your own pretense.
We went to her service and learned that when her children were being bullied in school she brought the bully to tears of contrition in the principal’s office by asking “What is hurting you so much inside that you have to make my children sad?” She was not only larger than life, she was larger than death.  When she had learned she had cancer, she refused to let it stop her from embracing the things and the people she loved.  She raised money for cancer treatment and continued to be a brash force of kindness.
The couple who introduced us to this wonderful woman, led her service.  They were strong in the way that everyone needed them to be, but not only did they put us at ease, they lifted us up to her level.  We would all be rich beyond compare to have someone lift us up after we have gone, with such good humor and earnest praise.  Certainly, she lifted herself up enough to be remembered in the best way but it takes a true friend to present us to those who didn’t know who we were and expand us to those who did.
It makes me feel very fortunate to have such amazing people in the fabric of my time here.
One of the last people to speak said that if she was there she would have said, “What were you thinking having these people get up at this hour of the morning?”
This was worth getting up early for.  It wasn’t a funeral, it was reminder to love fully, regardless of the rules; to live life on our own terms. To remember that we are all part of one delicious Self and then to be Self-ish and wrap our arms around life and not let go, even when we loose form.
For all of those who have shown us the secret value of being here, no hug is strong or long enough.

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
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“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)

Love’s Labor is never Lost!

Happy Labor Day!  Here’s to taking time to recognize that this holiday, started in 1894,
marks the courageous efforts of labor unions and leaders to decrease the average work week from 7 days to 5 days, the average workday from 12 hours to 8 hours,  to improving conditions in the workplace, and liberating children from having to work in factories.
Being grateful for what we have, allows us to focus on the peace and productivity we wish for ourselves and those around us. Being thankful for the efforts others have made on our behalf increases our internal fortitude and allows for the perspective that increases true wealth all around.
We got to hang out with a friend this weekend who told us of a tragic event in her past in which she narrowly escaped death and was severely shaken to the core.  A therapist told her she could shift her perspective from being a victim to being a survivor.
She said that one word changed her life.  Instead of being powerless and continuing to suffer on many levels, she realized she was a warrior and that seemingly daunting tasks and scenarios now seemed like nothing in comparison with what she had already endured.  She recognized, that even in the moments of the event, that she had instinctually done what she needed to and had come out of it alive.
She is now a font of creative expression and has known great success. She continues to remain open to life and infuses a thoughtful aesthetic into everything she does.
Last night, we finished Marianne Williamsons’ book “The Law of Divine Compensation” and she stated that when we are grateful for what we have, clean out what needs to be cleaned out and allow ourselves to want what we want (which when we are in touch with our true being will not hurt anyone, including ourselves.) we become a magnet for our greatest good and abundance will flow to us.
She also used a great metaphor using Cinderella as our soul, the evil stepmother as our ego thoughts (keeping us in subjugation with menial tasks while projecting an inferior status onto us.) and our fairy godmother as our Source, that transforms base materials into what we can utilize to bring about our greatest good.
How does this all tie into Labor Day?  If we can take this day to realize what we have been though, and how our egos have kept us in check, afraid to allow us to identify with our true Source, we can realize we are capable of turning our lives around and being the grand refreshment to our concentric circles.
Here’s to prosperity on every level!

Dream Unspoken

The Levins take their IndieGoGo campaign to Iowa!
New Video preview clip of Dream Unspoken from the Upcoming CD: Trust.

Dream Unspoken © 2014 – The Levins

Driving in my car today, I’m trying to find some color in a world gone gray.

Heard an old song, made me leap inside,  I thought of you and I laughed, and then I cried.

I remember, I remember, the twinkle in your eye… the fire in my heart.

A bond of under-standing that can’t be torn a-part.

Remember a time when your lungs filled with song,

it was a new sensation- you knew that you be-longed!

Chorus: I remember, I remember, a dream unspoken by us all, a love that broke down

every wall, and  I  remember…         I remember  it all.

Seems it’s so easy to    forget, the splendor of a single sunset,

the im-portance and the beauty of friendship,

it keeps us alive, we can never let    it  slip.

I remember, I remember, photographs and phone calls,

visits and the letters, help repaint the picture which over time has weathered.

I sing to you know of who we were then, all  that we are and what we’ll be when we meet again.

I remember, I remember, a dream unspoken by us all, a love that broke down

every wall, and  I  remember…         I remember  it all.




Happy Birthday America

It is the birthday of America, an idea of a nation not ruled by a king, where we are not confined to a caste system, locked into a station in life but free to move up and down the ladder, to align ourselves with whatever our moral compass points to. 
America stands for freedom that allows for choice; choice of religion, philosophy, expression, the gambit of experience.  We are a mirror pool of manifestation reflecting back every possibility and our manifest destiny is to move into the new frontier where we can hear and see ourselves as we truly are beyond centuries of prejudice, fear and doubt.  
We are our own forefathers and mothers declaring our independence from the tyranny of prideful ignorance.  A new nation reaching out beyond the borders of limited thought to embrace liberty as she bestows dignity to all who reach out for her.
Happy Birthday, blow out your candles and may your year be sweet.

Celebrating Love formally – a weekend’s reflection

Over the weekend, we celebrated magnetic points of attraction.  On Saturday our friend’s parents celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary under a tent in their backyard with their family and friends.  His parent’s are Catholic and while organized faith can stifle a good party, the blessings that were said were so heartfelt and liberating, they only augmented the singing, dancing and drinking.  It struck me that my friend’s parents were among the few that actually embody their faith, not as a political or judgmental mantle but as an open tent that allowed us all in affectionately. At one point we formed a rough ring around them and with this ring of loved ones, they renewed their vows. My friend’s dad told him that it really was all about unconditional love and knowing how wild my friend is, his dad was being sincere.
On Sunday, we went to a Jewish wedding of the daughter of two more dear friends.  Our friends lost their first born son unexpectedly a few years back and yet they continue to be not only pillars but the beating heart of their community.  This wedding was, professionally speaking, top of the mark.  The rabbi and cantor were among the best of their field, the temple was stellar, the catering choice, the band remarkable but what made it so beautiful was the realization that everyone there was a true extension of the love this family has for one another.  To be granted a day of such immense happiness without the shadow of grief coloring it was a sincere healing that everyone got to take home with them.
These bright moments punctuate our reality, not just as the social obligations we get to indulge in but as a privilege we get to imbibe in to make us sing in tipsy chorus: “Life is a choice and we choose to be here with love in our hearts that spills over onto the sidewalk so that paper boats of poetry can sail sweetly along.”
May you command the crow’s nest of one of these boats as your week commences.