Monday, December 15, 2014

Cat House

There's a house in my neighborhood famous for its many cats: feral, rescued, kitten and Tom. 12, 20, 24; lounging on pillows strewn across the extended drive where I can peek between California oaks and an ivy-covered fence. This morning I watched the Lady of the house leave. Snow White hair, a navy woolen coat. She got into a fancy car and drove off in a stately fashion. I waved, but she either ignored me or didn't see as she kept looking straight ahead. I imagine that to her, Henry and I are just two more cats seeking the communion of our feline fellows.... Henry is especially curious, being a dog and all. Who are these creatures, his size and sense of aloofness, feigned disinterest with eyes in the back if their heads? Such mystery permeates the air where I see my exhalations whisk in ghostly tails.

Friday, November 28, 2014

GAMERGATE, CATCALLS, DANGER, AND REAL LOVE- An Exploration

 
GAMERGATE, CATCALLS, DANGER, AND REAL LOVE
An Exploration


            It was 10 am on a Saturday morning in “the valley,” a broad expanse of suburban Los Angeles where I live. My neighborhood is interesting because while there are many middle and working class families along the major thoroughfares, behind those busy streets are downright mansions and elite private schools, and yet gang encroachment is on the rise, at least, in the form of street tags and from the little bits I pick up talking to my local police. And yes, I do talk a lot with my local patrol officers. I’m only on a first name basis with a few, but that’s true for all the folks my entire neighborhood. For the most part, I talk with everyone, greeting everyone with a friendly smile and a “Have a great day!”

            Late at night, of course, when I take my dog out into the front yard, I keep my phone handy and my mace handier. I am a little less friendly with the folks walking down the street and I barely leave the front yard, just in case. I honestly don’t know if any of this is helpful or even necessary, but I’m a slight single gal who appreciates seeing another neighbor out with his or her dog at 11 pm, which I rarely do.

            Sometimes, late at night, men walk by who seem to sense my anxiety. I don’t chat, but if a fellow says hi, I say, “have a good night,” and then say, “Good boy, Henry!” to remind them I have a dog. Once a man walked by smoking a cigarette. He looked at me and said, “You need a bigger friend.” Henry is 15 lbs, or 6.8 kilos. The man wasn’t being threatening or even jovial. I think he was offering his honest advice.

            I’m a risk-taking sort, generally. I face my fears as a way of life and as a practice. I’ve dived off cliffs and rappelled down waterfalls. I’ve booked my own tours as a musician and traveled the world. I’ve volunteered with lepers and never once had to dip seven times into the sea.

            On the other hand, I’ve also been mugged at gunpoint, a young man (or boy) with a gun at my left temple and another one to my right. Two masked boys tried to empty my bank account at an ATM. They didn’t really believe me when I told them there WAS no money and I was depositing the hondo to keep from bouncing a check. They took the crisp, clean $100 dollar bill and told me to get of there. I counted my lucky stars they weren’t kidnapping me for purposes worse than a Benjamin.

            I give a lot of context because I would like to point out that I’m not na├»ve (…mostly), and I’m not unaware. I learned lessons the hard way, but not the TOO hard way, and I choose to believe that “love of the deepest sort” is still the antidote to all these interpersonal wars of survival and greed and fear and power struggles.

            I’ve seen miracles. I’ve watched homeless folks with apparent personality disorders or psychotic splits become lucid for a few moments to sing folk tunes or to answer a question about the weather. I met an angry man on the street with a bottle of whiskey in his hand yelling about the state of the world until I told him we were all scared and hurt. He told me a bit about HIS life and now when I pass him by in the street, we smile and sometimes hug.

            I walk my dog every day, three times a day, sometimes four. In the daylight, when the streets are full of people, my neighborhood is safe but for the rogue angry driver, honking his or her dismay.

            So imagine my surprise that Saturday morning when, on the sage and lavender scented pathways that travel along the bus routes, I was followed by a young guy, maybe early 20s, just the two of us and Henry for the entire 3 city block stretch of walled off pathway.

            You see, my neighborhood is NOT free of cat calling. I get honked at and hollered at and cat called and I ignore it. I just ignore it.

            And usually, on this beautiful path, especially late morning on the weekends, there are plenty of families and bike riders and dog walkers and ladies with baby carriages.

            But that day I was oddly alone. We passed one lady with her dog at one end of the pathway, but she did not continue along the path. This walk- and bike-way is separated from the Metrobus lanes where only buses and cop cars are allowed by a 12 foot wire fence. There is a wall on the other side of the pathway, another good 12 feet, separating the houses from the pathway as well as the sound of the buses, I imagine. Same thing on the other side of the buses- on the south side of the pathways, another great wall separates THOSE houses from the thoroughfare.

            Henry and I walked along. I had headphones on as I was listening to, well, nothing. I was searching for the podcast I wanted to listen to and couldn’t find it. That young man I mentioned before? I had seen him standing at the lights when we entered the pathways. Now he was jogging up alongside us.

            “Hi,” he said.

            I ignored him, pretending I was listening to the world’s quietest podcast.

            “Hi,” he said again. Henry just kept trotting along, which I figured was a pretty good sign, because sometimes he can get a little aggressive.

            “What, no hi?” the kid said.

            Now this was annoying to me and also mystifying. After all, I am the QUEEN of talking to everyone in my neighborhood. In fact I briefly wondered if I had talked to this kid before, but then decided that I hadn’t, because I usually remember everyone.

            He ran ahead. We were about 1/3 of the way in and I thought about doubling back. Then my inner rebel overrode my inner sensible self and said F*** THAT! I don’t have to amend my walking route just because some boy is trying to hit on a woman old enough to be his… older cousin.

            As Henry and I approached, Henry stopped right there to do his “Duty.” Not number 1.

            ‘Henry,’ I thought, ‘your timing couldn’t be worse.’

            The fellow came up to me then. “Hi, hi, hi” he said. “What, no hi?”

            Henry and I walked quickly now as he followed us. “What, no hi? No hi?”

            I decided not to run, but to walk with purpose, with Henry’s leash pulled taut. It was no longer an annoyance. It was starting to feel threatening.

            I rebuked myself. Had I been watching too many online videos about street harassment?

            Then I thought about the girl who had been the “anonymous” subject of one video, who was later receiving death and rape threats merely for taping all her interactions in a day.

            Who says I have to say hi? It’s my prerogative. This is the US and my fellows fought sorely for my freedom, and my foremothers who fought (and were beaten and jailed and sometimes worse) for my right to vote let alone many other things were owed a better homily than this.

            Of course, I was also completely alone with a kid about 5-6 inches taller, probably about the same weight, but with all the force of youth and violence and god knows what else. Maybe he just wanted to say hi, but now it was a serious potential that he wanted so much more. I would give him NONE of it.

            If he just wanted to meet me, or say hi, then he could have offered a simple, “Just wanted to say hi,” or, “you’re a pretty lady,” or, “do you have a dollar?” So many others have done or said such things to me and I’ve smiled, or said hi, or said, “sorry,” or offered up some change. No, this was different.

            I called my partner, a former law enforcement man himself, and told him I was being followed by a young guy and gave him my exact location. I said very loudly on the phone that I was calling him and telling him to make sure that I was in no danger.

            My little plan worked, as the young man dropped back and followed at a very far distance. Carlo talked me through the last of the pathway, until I reached the street on the other side. I have never been so happy to see two bikers and a homeless man in my life!

            Of course, my dear partner then offered up that he sometimes is followed and harassed as well. It’s true, of course. He’s a beautiful man. I asked him if it was women doing that. He said, “no! That would be almost welcome! Well, I mean, if it weren’t for you.” I reminded him then that he also didn’t have the thousands of years of sexual violence and oppression borne against his gender in quite the same numbers as I did. He said, “of course. But I’m just pointing out it’s not just women.”

            Hm.

            Eventually, the follower dropped back and Henry and I finished our walk. I have kept my eyes open since, just in case, and haven’t taken that path any longer as well. It’s a real bummer because I so enjoy those pathways, but I guess at this point in my life I will simply take another, more populated route. At least I can.

            See, now, literally as I write this RIGHT NOW, #gamergate is happening, yet another violent anti-woman movement in a new arena, the internet. Rape, whether it be in the modern definition of the word, or even in an archaic definition, has been around since, probably, the dawn of humanity, or at least a generation or two in. I don’t know, of course, but I do wonder if Gunther Grass’ novel “The Flounder” (“Der Butt”) has a few details right about female dominance in earlier times. Of course the novel does not take feminism very seriously and the idea that matriarchy was superseded by patriarchy isn’t originally Grass’ himself. He also goes on to create a section in the novel in which women gang rape men, indicating that violence and oppression are not gender specific.

            Interestingly, I’m not so sure. I think it’s worth giving us ladies a chance at world domination just to see if in fact things might become more peaceful and egalitarian? Perhaps? Just as an experiment.

            I am not being glib, but I suppose I am just a bit.

            Anyway, I started digging around and did a little research into the history of cat calling and street harassment, just to see if there were recorded examples of such behavior. Surely it must appear in Shakespeare now and then? Everything seems to appear in ONE of Shakespeare’s plays…              
           
            I discovered a fascinating section of American history, beginning in the 1880s when women began taking to the streets and the marketplace on their own much more often. http://www.scribd.com/doc/96759302/Smashing-the-Masher-the-early-women-s-movement-against-street-harassment-in-America … Industry was replacing agriculture and women were out running errands and shopping more- and working in those shops! One fascinating turn of events from this wave of crime and harassment against women was the hiring of 300 female police officers to help fend off the “mashers.”

            While in the 1880s- through 1919 (when woman achieved the right to vote) the public outcry was largely a moral one, still it is notable that the harassment occurred while more and more women were entering spheres that were more traditionally male. Again, in the 1960s and 70s, street harassment seemed to rise at another time in American history when women were entering into male spheres.

            Look. The thing is, I wonder WHY street harassment happens? I mean, really. Not just harassment but rape as well. I think about recent incidents in India, in Egypt, all around the world. Why? What is to be gained by this? Aren’t our lives improved by women? Yes, in fact, they are! Women doctors save lives, and mothers give life, and women code and design and study and move just like men. This all seems so strange to me that in a world where we are curing diseases and creating friendships all around the world, still this behavior not only exists but thrives.

            One of my dear friends, a woman, says that the onus will have to be placed on the young women. She says things often like, “We just have to teach our young women how to fight back and make a stand, because that will be the only thing that deters the men.” She is specifically advocating physical response- i.e. violence. I pointed out that perhaps part of the problem is not that women and girls aren’t defending themselves- why should I be responsible for someone else’s bad manners, let alone aggressive behavior? Is it my fault if I get robbed? Is it my fault if I get hit by a car?

            Plus, possible punishment is not as great a deterrent as a cultural paradigm shift.

            I have any other friends who say that this is all part of our soul contracts and that while it may not be my “fault,” I somehow manifested this. Perhaps I was harassed so I could write about it and open up other people’s hearts to create more safety and healing as opposed to anger and retaliation. Or maybe it’s just… the culture in which I live.

            I imagine that street harassment occurs largely because, yes, our culture DOES allow it. But then again, why do I know so many boys and men who DON’T street harass?

            So while my friend who thinks we need to train the girls to “fight back” may have one part of the solution sort of kind of, I think that encouraging more anger and aggression may not be the deeper solution to the problem.

            See, I keep coming back to this idea I have about love. Love conquers all. Love. Love of the deepest sort. I have tried it again and again. I blessed those muggers and while they did take my $100, they were scared to death as I blessed them and I imagine their long term fate, should they continue down that path, is a dark and frightening one. Maybe me choosing love had nothing to do with the outcome of their crime, maybe they were never going to do anything worse than take my money in the first place. But it has everything to do with my sense of well-being and purpose and clarity in life. I do not fear that ATM and keep going back to it to prove I am aware and safe and protected… Just not after dark….

            Why not face street harassment with love- but what does that even mean? Perhaps it was a mother’s love that came through me, one that is strong and full of boundaries, one that does not enable bad behavior. In my thinking, a righteous mother does not reward her child for stealing candy from the store. She punishes or rebukes in accordance with that child’s age and awareness. She does not let the child have its own way simply because that child insists. She holds space for something more loving, which may be discipline, or may be a new learning of proper boundaries.

            But then again, that young man was not a child. And who am I to think that those who commit random acts of control and aggression, let alone violence and oppression, are children deserving of a gentle rebuke? These are adults we are talking about, for the most part.
                       
            I am really fascinated by this topic, not just street harassment, but #gamergate and the online harassment and threatening of women who speak out against this “bad behavior.” But it is MORE than bad behavior in the form of words and online memes. Remember Eliot Rodger, the boy who killed people in Santa Barbara in May 2014 while on a mission to kill sorority girls as revenge for his perceived rejection by other women? He spent a lot of time in chat rooms dedicated to Seducing Women. This was a young man who, mentally unstable, yes, took his online vitriol and relative youth into a world of violence and destruction.

            The thing is, I’ve spent a bit of time lurking in some of those seduction chat rooms. I used to be, er, let’s say, an acquaintance of one of the GURUS of seduction. This is a serious blog post and that man’s attempt to seduce me was downright pathetic. I will someday write THAT blog but don’t want to take away from the seriousness of this one- still- I would love for young men who are legitimately using those tactics (because I hope that most of them just need tricks to learn how to talk to the women) to see that in fact, the mindset of many of those websites and paradigms is actually really, embarrassingly, pathetically setting them up for more failure. So next blog, or in the future, I’ll share that story

How many random comments and letters and notes I’ve received in my time!? MANY! And I’m not even famous. I’ve had people write notes and comments with insults on my comedy, my voice, my appearance. I don’t now what those folks are after, because I tend not to believe a word of what they say because none of them are named Steve Martin nor Barbra Streisand nor Heidi Klum. I tend to write back with diffusive comments either about God or Divine Mother or blessing them, or I ignore all together. Of course I’m not talking about thoughtful criticism or constructive notes. I’m talking about the trolling I’ve received as a human on this world wide web.

            The reason I am connecting all these dots is because there is some deep hatred going on, and I don’t think it’s justified and I think it is all stemming from fear. I get angry and upset, too. But I want for us to heal. I want for people to strive to make the world safer and more loving.

            So, I decided that I wanted to invite men along side women to join this conversation. For my radio show Monday, I have invited a very grounded, spiritual, growth oriented, manly guy friend of mine to enter a discussion with me. We will likely not solve any problems, but my hope is that between the two of us, we can have a conversation of yin and yang, exploring different spiritual possibilities about why this anger and violence against women, even online, is coming to prominence now. Adam Schomer, filmmaker, author, actor, director, producer, and yogi will be my esteemed guest, on 12radio.com, Monday December 1st, at 9 am PST.

            Until then,

            Erin     

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Murmuring

It's Thanksgiving here in the U.S. and I am full of all sorts of feelings, none of which are exactly gratitude, but all of which point me toward it...

Last night I watched... well, actually, I sat in the other room doing a crossword puzzle, because I'm a wimp, but I poked my head in now and then, as my partner watched "The Purge 2." A bit over the top with its message about rich versus poor and the corporate use of money to control politics and therefore control the poor and middle classes, still, in the wake of Ferguson, it felt a bit too close to reality for my taste.

Caveat: I am in a "mood."

Next, today, we watched "This is The End," the hilarious post-apocalyptic romp from all the Freaks and Geeks crew.

I wanted so desperately to laugh. This movie is so funny! I saw it in the theater when it came out and loved it.

But I feel so full of yearning, instead...

And not of the "Birdsong" variety. I've been reading the book and although I am sure it's great, and something I would love in a lighter mood.... well, actually, maybe I AM in yearning of the "Birdsong" variety, since that is a book about the world before and during and after WW1. I am not in the same romantic place as the characters, but I am in the state of painful awakening and the choosing of hope anyway.

The world of humanity seems so full of sorrow and anger that it makes me open my heart up more to the world of nature. I seek that communion with possibility. I am experiencing the kind of deep yearning and desire I used to feel all the time as a teenager, when I wanted to write the most beautiful love songs and make beautifully romantic movies and write jokes and make people laugh. I want to feel excited about things and hopeful and I feel that it isn't really *my* thought process making me so blue.

I think it is very important to know what is happening in the world and to do everything in my power to be of some help.

And I think most important is to have some kind of faith in goodness.

I don't really feel any targeted sorrow or pain. I do not blame any individual person or circumstance. The uprising in Ferguson is not against an individual police officer but against a system of oppression and violence that is clearly ready for some change. I don't feel any worse about Ferguson than I do about Isis than I did about Sandy Hook- remember Sandy Hook? I do...

But...

I am seeking hope.

I think the answer is probably spiritual. I know many people who will suggest the bible, or meditation, or a renewed commitment to my ever steady spiritual practice. Perhaps I need to dig deeper into my art, my career, or maybe I just need a vacation. Maybe the world needs a vacation. I don't think I need a pill, nor do I think the world needs a pill.

I feel at such a loss that I am entering a deep surrender and, at least in my previous experience of deep surrender, through the looking glass there is a love deeper than all roses, a love of the deepest sort, a love with an awful understanding and a sense of purpose. That purpose is to love, and to be love, and to sing love, and to act love, and to shout love. And sometimes that purpose is to sleep love, and to cry love, and to sigh love, and to exhaust love until more love is all there is. For if love IS all there is then all of this is just some other bizarre expression of love far greater than my puny human understanding of it and the sky opens up before me and my heart becomes the sky and my eyes, the stars and my voice, the sound of a million sonic explosions of that which encompasses all emotions.

This is a very esoteric blog. I wanted to write something funny and witty. I wanted to talk about my new stand up act or my short film idea. I wanted to play you this song I wrote. I wanted to do something of purpose and meaning.

Instead I wrote this, and it's just fine.

Now I shall just look at you and smile, Mona Lisa style. No more words are necessary.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

I ponder such mysteries

On a walk in the valley, still wet from the rain,
I discovered the following clues:

One solitary key, made of silver,
Ensconced in mud between a ginkgo leaf and the curb.

A sea gull soaring far from the sea.

Seeds and berries of a sumac tree
ripened til death and falling upon my head when I passed beneath.

A puzzle piece. No picture.

Where a pool of rain water gathered in the deep crevice of embattled road,
Teardrops from the leaves of the oak
Singing
Pit pit pat
Pit pit pat...

The slow Saturday slumber
Awakening sweetly to birdsong,
Where jets in the distance roar.

The crows,
And steam rising off tees,
And vines of flowers reaching out
From beyond iron legs
Into air wrought with salt,

And a cigarette,
Bent double, cracked and wounded and
Tipping over onto the tar.

I ponder such mysteries.



Thursday, October 30, 2014

poem 10/30/2014

*I haven't written a poem in a long while as I haven't been sleeping well. Finally, a good night's rest, and I awaken with a few lines in dancing around that cavernous head of mine. I present it here. :)



Beautiful life, this, to be a poet,
     or a plumber, or a tree.

Marvelous thing, this, breath.

Who said you wanting to be here
was of any matter to your own delicate glory?

Hush all your whimperings
     expressed as rage and shouting.

This crescent moon.

This blade of grass.

This song in the distance.

This is your life.

xx


Erin

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

A Return to Vertigo



Roll your eyes! Or not.  But I am fairly certain that all the vertigo I have been experiencing lately is related to my third life crisis. See, I can’t quite say it’s a mid life crisis, because I am not quite that old, but here I am having some such crisis... maybe... anyway... 

I went to the Medical Doctor today. (‘Gasp,’ you emote, “The MEDICAL doctor? Who is writing this blog and what have you done with Erin?”) I was so worried that the series of vertigo might be, you know, cochlear tumors or something. And I have a LOVELY Doctor that I work with, one of the most delightful men in the mid-Wilshire area, a fashionable music lover dedicated to helping his patients, and who does special outreach to patients suffering with AIDS. He’s wonderful. So although I do not like taking steroids or antibiotics, and I don’t like spending hours (or money) away from my LIFE life, I have now had OVERWHELMING acute Vertigo twice and little mini vertigo sessions about half a dozen times in the last few weeks. The world is spinning just a little as I type this, but I’m handling it.

(photo by Rick Canter.) (This is Varanasi, where I had my first bout of vertigo 7 years ago, shortly after handing my life over to divine mother consciousness.)



Dr. Lim checked me out, and explained that in his opinion, it stems from my allergy to dust and dairy creating extreme congestion, blocking my Eustachian tubes and creating pressure in my inner ears, leading to vertigo. Allergies? All this pain for allergies?

Oh, I believe it. I am hoping the anti allergy medication, Chinese herbs for clear lungs and clear breathing, meditation for clear passageway, and general avoidance of dairy, gluten and sugar (hahahahaha, that I will start tomorrow) will help me overcome vertigo.

So, if you’ve read me for a while, you may be surprised that I am having such a complaint heavy blog, and you may be wondering why the connection between allergies and life crises? But see, if my life as an artist and as a mystic is connected with my authentic self, then I want to not always be just a Pollyanna but be honest about when stuff ISN’T going well, too…

My vertigo is a combination of vertigo, dizziness, tinnitus, and nausea. Louise Hay says that these things are about an inability- or refusal- to hear and listen. A refusal to see. And while at first, when I read these things, I thought, ‘ah hell no! I am constantly working on myself!’ I decided that a better use of this malady is as an opportunity. IS there something I am refusing to see? Are there things I cannot or will not hear?

Hence the life crisis. I have been transitioning my “day job” out of massage, a profession that has paid my rent most of my adult life, and into more life coaching and psychic work. It’s scary, leaving something I never really liked but was good at. I am now throwing myself more than ever before into music, into acting, into writing, into coaching. And I’m not 21, and even though I act like age doesn’t matter, I’m still scared. And yet, this is my life. I am here to LIVE it, full out, passionately. I’m not one for being safe. I want to explore every single avenue, and of course, that can sometimes be my detriment. I take on too much and disperse my creative energy instead of focusing…

Focus… ah! Vertigo… cannot focus…

Pilots sometimes experience vertigo while flying. They sometimes develop a feeling where they cannot tell if they are flying up or down. It often happens if the pilot takes his or her eyes off the instruments and starts piloting by feeling.

Hold up. I’m all one for feeling, aren’t I?

Not exactly.

See, while I am definitely one for FEELING the feelings, I also know they, like thoughts, shall pass. And so those many years ago in India I handed my life over to the DIVINE and said I would know what to do because it was in FRONT of me.

Well, in recent months, I have sort of- not STOPPED doing what was in front of me, per se- but I have started adding a lot of activities coming from my ideas of what I "think I want" front of me. I have been focusing on mistakes I have made and how to never make them again- important information, to be sure, but that is NOT what is in front of me!

And by the way, YES. I follow my dreams. I follow my heart in that I am in touch with it as a center of love from whence all artistic and healing and FUN outpourings emerge.

But here is what has been happening. I'll just be honest.

HEART: "Sing!"

OBSERVER OF SELF IN MEDITATION: "Ma...."

GOD/ MUSE: "Here's a song!"

MUSICIAN SELF: "Write that $%^& down before it disappears!"

SINGER SELF: "Can't wait to sing this beautiful song!"

CULTURAL MIND INFECTED WITH MEMES: "You're getting a little old to record a pop tune. Who do you think you are, Taylor Swift?"

INNER OLD SCHOOL POWERFUL FEMALE ICON: "Maybe more like Carole Lombard meets Annie Lennox, but okay."

INNER DIVA: "I think I am ERIN, biatches." 

OVERWHELMED NERVOUS SYSTEM: "Oh my God. Vertigo."

..... Ieeeeeeeeeee!

In the book of Psalms, God says, “Be still, and know that I am God.”

When I experience vertigo, there is nothing to do but sit, and be still and breathe. And through that breathe comes the relief, sometimes awful, that I am supported by the divine. And then in those moments of quiet listening, I hear the small, still voice of inspiration. And then I as myself:

What is in front of me?

See, the cycle could continue. But I think maybe this time I will cut right to the beauty of the song without all this need to define and justify myself. I am a songwriter and an author and a performer. I channel love in an artistic equation of storytelling in various mediums. That love heals, or inspires, or or creates laughter. 

And life crisis stuff- well- when one is an artist living and working in a culture that values art as a commercial commodity, but fewer artists are able to "make a living," it is easy to get caught up in that swell of thinking rather than "take arms against a sea of troubles and by opposing end them." Only in this case, the arms would be my artistic endeavors and the sea of troubles would be the negative thinking of the culture surrounding art, value, age, and etc., and to oppose them and end them would be to continue my own work because I LOVE it.

Heck, what else am I supposed to do, anyway?

As the Course In Miracles says: “God, what would you have me do? Where would you have me go? What would you have me say and to whom?”

This is the same promise I made to the Divine Mother that day 7 years ago in India. I would no longer try to run my own life. I would do what the Divine wanted me to do and I would know what it was because it would be IN FRONT of me.

And so, again and again, like the sea on the tide, I turn it over to divine.

So what is in front of me?

Certainly not all this worry about “my life,” and whether I made or am making the right decisions. Bah. I have experienced better, love better, know better, practice better. My life is already full of love and for that I am grateful…. And it is full of love because I choose that, every day, despite the fears, despite the messages and memes of a heartsick culture. It’s a practice and a joy.

Well, we’re about to find out. And with gusto.

And on that, I shall fix my eyes. Like pilots fixing their eyes on the instruments so that they may fly the plane to its destination, I won’t be fixed on the destination, but I won’t be fixed on distractions, either. I shall be fixed upon the joy of the task in front of me. There is no destination. I am here. There ARE distractions, but they are NOT the bringers of the joy that is here. And so, with love, I just stop thinking about the mistakes I made in my life and get back to the beautiful work in front of me. The work of art, the work of healing, the work of loving, the work of joy.



Love,

Erin

Friday, October 24, 2014

Vertigo

 
VERTIGO

Have you ever had vertigo?

The first time I ever experienced vertigo, I was in Varanasi with a teacher, Anand, just after visiting the burning ghats, where the Indian burn the bodies of their dead. I had been sick the entire trip, as I had been sick in the US before I even got on the airplane. The whole story is so crazy I don’t know how far back to start!

I had been visiting a lover who loved in San Francisco. Collective gasp- I had a lover? LOL. Please see my one woman show. Anyway, he was a great romancer. I had arrived at his place and he had scattered rose petals on the stairway up to the bathtub, where bubbles were in both the pearly white basin and in the glass of champagne chilling on ice. It was a beautiful weekend of reading poetry, listening to music, and enjoying a fellow romantic… until Sunday… during the day I had felt the tell-tale flush in my cheeks, but had chosen to ignore it. That evening we sat on the sofa, a champagne cocktail in hand, listening to Anne Sofie Von Otter and Elvis Costello’s heartbreakingly beautiful rendition of “For No One.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AxsDkB7tjnA He looked down at me, I looked up at him, he leaned in to kiss me, and…

“You’re burning up,” he said, and I very suddenly was dying. I told him I had to lie down.

That night my fever was so high I sweated through the sheets.

I woke up a few days later, my gentleman friend looking over me with worry in his eyes.

He said, “I was just about to bring you to the hospital.”

I sat straight up.

“What day is it?” I asked, bursting from the bed sheets, feeling perfectly fine and dandy.

“Wednesday,” he said.

“Oh my God! I have to get on a plane to India on Friday!”

“I don’t know about that,” he said doubtfully.

“What happened? How did three days go by?” I asked.

“Well,” he said, “You’ve been sleeping and sweating through the sheets, and then at one point you awoke and took a shower, and then accused me of trying to poison you on behalf of your ex-boyfriend.”

I stared in disbelief, apologized, and rushed out the door.

A few weeks later, still feverish, staying at the Taj Mahal in Varanasi, the room was spinning. I hadn’t eaten much in a few days, and I was vomiting a slimy green projectile. It was Ghostbusters all over the place. I was frightened, but Anand said, “You are burning off lifetimes of karma. Your body and mind now are spinning, because your worlds are shifting so fast, they have to spin to catch up to the greatness of your soul.”

Or something like that.

That was 2007. It lasted a few hours and then I could stand, and walk, and brush my teeth, and breathe. Much more occurred on that trip, but this is a blog about vertigo, because…

Two weeks ago, I had vertigo once again.

I woke up feeling a little funny- clumsy- stumbling as I walked down the stairs to get breakfast for my fur baby, Henry and me. I thought, Geez! I am light headed! I just kept thinking that if I ate something I could ground myself. But as soon as I had finished half my eggs (from my friend’s grain fed, free range chickens!) and gluten free toast, I found I couldn’t lift my head without suffering turbulent waves of nausea.

Historically I’ve always had a little trouble with clumsiness. I have also had migraines, and motion sickness when flying on small airplanes. This morning, the house was spinning. I couldn’t stand, I couldn’t walk, I couldn’t even lift my head. I had to crawl back upstairs to the bathroom and wait for the spinning to abate.

Nothing was happening, so I texted my roommate. Still early morning, I wrote, “Hey, when you wake up, can you please come into my room and help me? J I am having vertigo and nausea. J

Yes. I smiley faced my polite texts. I can just imagine some day, on my dying bed. “Dear Nurse. Dying. Couldn’t empty bed pan this time. Sorry. Anyway, see you next lifetime; this one has been a delight. Thanks for the memories. J

My roommate burst forth from her room. “What’s going on?” she asked. Her timing was unfortunately excellent. At that exact moment I reached for my trash bin and surrendered to the Gods of Vomit.

Oh.

Vertigo.

I remembered Anand’s words in that moment: my body and mind were spinning to catch up to my soul…

$150 later, the Urgent Care doctor said “It’s probably a virus” and gave me some anti-vertigo medication. Basically, the same thing that I take on the little planes, of which I had an ample supply in my medicine cabinet. And then, after being cared for and nurtured by my roommate, my boyfriend, my dog, my sister, and my mother… And after about 20 hours of rest, I woke up the next morning feeling like a MILLION BUCKS.

Until:

Monday afternoon I started having that funny feeling again… gee, my head is spacey. I started feeling nauseous and then? By the time I was meeting with my scene partner from acting class? The world would not stop spinning.

When I closed my eyes, I knew I would throw up, so instead, I stared at the off white ceiling, waiting, waiting, waiting. It was almost a pleasant experience, the waiting, because I had no choice but to completely surrender and it brought a calming experience of patience and faith. I knew this, too, would pass.

I awaited my boyfriend who was coming to pick me up. Certainly, I could not drive myself. I cannot say I was smiling. The life force was drained from my existence just then. But I knew that I was not alone, and I knew that there were reasons beyond my fathoming for this vertigo.

Now it has passed, and now Thursday evening, I am wondering what it’s all about?

I made an appointment with my Primary Care Physician. I will have him investigate all the medical reasons for vertigo. I read that Louise Hay said it was about a “refusal to see,” but that really doesn’t resonate with me. I mean, look. I’m open! I am asking God to show me what it is I am refusing to see, as I am open to that being the spiritual cause… but really… I don’t know if that’s it. I am not certain it’s what Anand told me it was years ago, but then again, why not? And yet…

Here’s some of what I did ponder during the time of waiting for the world to stop spinning:

How can I better reach my audience as a writer, singer, life coach, love guru, psychic, and actress? How can I be more responsible to the works of art I love? How can I create music and novels and films of value and artistic integrity that are also entertaining? Once I create those projects, how do I get them out there to the world so that people can find them? Why am I having vertigo? Am I the Accidental Whirling Dervish of Valley Glen? These and other mysteries have I examined in the infinite hills and valleys of my stucco ceiling.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

From Boy Bands to Love Dogs


From Boy Bands to Love Dogs


Hello, everyone!

So, the last few days I was a little MIA. I still cannot reveal complete details, but, basically, I was hired as an actress on a music video for a very famous boy band… perhaps the most famous boy band of the moment, and maybe ever.

This is not really a fair thing to say or assess, because more people have more ways to access technology than back in the Beatles’ day, and, there are more people running around this little blue planet in general! Still, they are MIGHTY popular and really cute.

Those of you among my friends know I’m way more into dark and crafty songwriters in general, but I like a good top 40 venture now and again!

I was hired without being told who the band was. I wasn’t given the location or any details until the night before, and although I actually did have a hunch, I wasn’t sure until I got there and saw the handsome lads in the flesh… Then I knew I was, in fact, working on a video being shot out in the middle of nowhere in Agua Dulce for THE boy band of the moment.

When I arrived, the production crew had me sign a Non Disclosure Agreement and even taped my phone with a special seal as I promised not to take any pictures, nor disclose the name of the band, nor tweet nor instagram… nor… NADA! NOTHING! ZIP! ZILCH! ZERO!

Until… Um, well I don’t have a copy of the NDA so I don’t really know when! But I assume once the video comes out I can tell you who it is. Aw, who’m I kidding! I’m giving plenty of innuendo as it is!

Still... No pictures with me and the darling Harry Styles, I’m sad to say!

Why the secrecy? I really didn’t understand at first except that I know so many television shows, films and videos really need to bank on the SURPRISE of the audience.  Not only that, but they want to TEASE the audience. Hello, burlesque! It’s all about the TEASE far more than the strip! I mean, I know a lot of current pop stars are living in a time and place where the value has been placed on the strip way more than the tease, but really? We gotta tease and entice somehow!

There was another reason, I realized, as the shoot went from day one to day two.

On set there were not only LA Country Sheriffs but also a whole security team monitoring the premises. I talked a lot with everyone on set, and a lot of the security people had special training with the FBI for all kinds of things! (One fellow was telling me all about his “hostage negotiations” training.)

I thought to myself, Geez… are these guys really under that much threat from anti-boy band types? Then I realized… Oh! Actually they are really just making sure the shoot can actually happen!

See, on day two, despite this incredible ban on social media and swearing an oath of secrecy, SOMEHOW, some information was leaked and a bevy of teen and preteen girls showed up at the entrance to the desert park where we were shooting. They waited ALL DAY for a chance to meet these boys!

If the production staff hadn’t taken those precautions, the shoot may not have happened at all! The set would have been swarming with fans.

I have never been the kind of fan that gets so rabid I would wait around all day for the chance to see a glimpse of a band I liked. I don’t even like waiting in line at the grocery store! But I do understand that to those girls, and they were all girls in this instance, these boys represent something about love, and something about glamour, and something about…

Well, I think, something about what Rumi wrote when he wrote in LOVE DOGS that the LONGING IN YOUR HEART (I’m paraphrasing here) is the ANSWER ITSELF…

Say what? Little girls AREN’T wasting their time tearing up at the thought of meeting a beloved boy band member?

No. This is a sacred and divine act, in my book!

Rumi wrote:

"This longing

you express is the return message."



The grief you cry out from

draws you toward union.



Your pure sadness

that wants help

is the secret cup.



Listen to the moan of a dog for its master.

That whining is the connection.



There are love dogs

no one knows the names of.



Give your life

to be one of them.”


In the context of modern society, we have to be so careful not to use this unrequited love against ourselves. Many of you know that I spent YEARS in love with love- really- in love with UNREQUITED love. Did it lead to healthy relationships? Oh, hell no! But what DID it lead to, when opened up in the right context of surrender to a higher power? It led to that higher power. And that led me to my heart.

I am therefore grateful to all those relationships that journeyed so foul, for they broke my heart OPEN, until I really did hand everything over to the divine and found my source of health in that surrender.

I got to practice my own longing on the video shoot as well!

See, I was originally hired to play a VERY FEATURED PART in the video, but when I arrived on set, I learned that in fact they wanted me to play a different part that was going to be hardly featured at all. I was so disappointed! I wanted my face being seen in that video with 500 bazillion hits on youtube, damnit!

I really thought long and hard about what to do. If I had known, when being offered the LESSER part that I was actually granted once I arrived on set, that I would be “less featured,” I probably would have said no to the video. But I had said YES, and I keep my commitments. Actors and entertainers are workhorses, really, at the end of the day. Move us here, put us there, we do this, we do that, and then we go rest and eat some hay. Or something.

I don’t like to complain.

And yet, I also want to have boundaries and advance my career.

I was wondering what to do when the main figurehead of the band walked up and introduced himself to me. He shook my hand and said, “thanks so much for helping out! It’s so nice to meet you. Are you okay? Do you need anything?” I smiled and chatted with him for a moment and watched as he continued to shake absolutely every single person’s hand. He hung out with the cast and crew, he brought everyone waters, he was incredibly kind and incredibly generous and all the lads in the band were so thoughtful and grateful to have us there. I thought to myself, this guy, he has incredible humility, and I am blown away. He didn’t have to go out of his way to be so gracious, and it wasn’t an act. He was just… cool. So then I thought to myself, come on, girl. Get over your bad self. Just have fun.

And guess what? I had a blast. I met such wonderful people. I talked with everyone and stopped thinking about myself and my little temper stewing in the land of ego. I danced atop desert rocks, I sang along with the chorus, I smiled at everyone I encountered. And it was fun!

So, the next time you watch a famous boy band’s video on youtube, look for the nutty blonde in the Zebra patterned outfit… if she has a big grin on her face, that’s me, finding God, dancing into the surrender.


Monday, September 1, 2014

A Seven Day Thought Detox…



Hey there! Don’t go running away from this blog thinking I am writing about some Orwellian dystopic concept in which my THOUGHTS ARE BEING PURIFIED!

…Or, go ahead and run, because Orwellian or not, I am taking up a 7 day challenge: For seven days, I do not speak negatively about another person, I do not indulge in gossip, no negative self talk, and to check in on general negativity.

Now, I am not talking about pretending certain things aren’t going on for the sake of false “positivity” or some Pollyannistic Presentation of Life, nor am I talking about living in denial. I AM interested in the idea that if I engage in this 7 day challenge, I may not complete it perfectly, but I may discover some new ways I have been limiting my experience of love through negative attitudes, beliefs or thoughts, whether they be about myself or others.



Truth be told, this is my general policy, actually, to live according to this 7 day challenge. I work very hard to NEVER gossip and to replace any negative thought about my “self” (usually it shows up in the form of judgment about my legs) ASAP with a positive and true thought (My legs are so strong and powerful!) (I am love.) (etc.)

Before I accepted this challenge, I had for a few weeks and still now am doing some personal growth work in which I am listing EVERY THING, PERSON and SITUATION over which I have resentments, for the purpose of consciously asking my higher power to take my thoughts and feelings about those situations and change me into a person who learns, has boundaries, and then moves on in love and peace.

HA! Of course! This is just so like the cosmos, producer of such wonders as the stars and the blossoms and Shakespeare and the sonnets…

Why do I say it is SO like the cosmos?

Because for me, it would be easy to be doing my “letting go of resentment work” and just hide certain ones away for future negative rumination just when I least need and expect it. ;-p I like to think I’m soooo enlightened but I’m still in this human body full of secret memory cards tucked away in various cells and systems and let me tell you: those unwanted visitors pop up whether I want them to or not, reminding me of my resentments! They may show up in the form of unawareness and mistakes and accidents, or disease, or unconscious communication in the heat of the moment.

This is such an exciting prospect for me. One thing I have learned about myself is that I LOVE handing my life over to the divine, because it always works out better than I could have imagined and, quite honestly, is incredibly liberating. All I have to do is what is in front of me, with love/ compassion/ boundaries and as much awareness as I am capable of rising up to experience. Yup! That’s it. That’s my whole way of life. And so far, since consciously and consistently practicing that way of life, I have had some amazing growth, moments of grace in times of tribulation, and of course, as an added bonus, I met my hot Italian partner that way as well.

There are some areas of my life where I am aware that I hold myself back, where I am a bit dissatisfied and maybe even dismayed at my actions, and where I want to challenge myself to be more loving. One of these areas is surrounding friendships. I am so very lucky to have some wonderful longtime friends that I feel are like soulmates, and yet I honestly feel that I could be more loving toward the friends I DO have, and more understanding and compassionate about certain friends with whom I have what I will call “strange feelings.”

I know my persona in the world is one that is VERY friendly, and I LOVE people, lots! But I also am, honestly, pretty darn guarded about the inner circle of friends. This isn’t always a bad thing, because I certainly don’t need to be taken advantage of… that wouldn’t be true love, at least not in my book, because true love doesn’t ENABLE others. And yet…

As much as I am loath to admit it, sometimes, when it comes to friendships, I know I put up a lot of barriers. Again, part of this may just be- I mean- I need a lot of alone time. I really rejuvenate by being alone in nature, and I am not a super social animal but have cultivated the social butterfly wings very consciously as part of my desire to experience more life! I have to gear up to go to a party! Not because I don’t love the people there but because it takes a lot of energy for me to be around a whole lot of people at once! Performing is totally different. I am in my milieu on stage, and the audience gives me energy. But being one of the many such as at a party or out in public takes a lot of energy for me! And as an extension of that introversion, it takes a long time for me to create long lasting friendships.

So back to this 7 day thought detox. First day, right out of the gate, I wake up dreaming of an estranged friend from my history and a also another friend from more recent years with whom I have… strange feelings.

LOL I just realized strange feelings could sound so sexual. NOPE not what I meant. Just clarifying that for the purpose of this blog!

STRANGE FEELINGS, meaning, there is not yet a total bridge of complete and utter trust. One or both of us has an agenda that is either not revealed or not of service to us/ the relationship. The person may simply remind me of past hurts, or, in the instance of the dream, both friendships were hurtful to me through means of betrayal IN MY MIND. I could tell you the whole story and convince you that I was betrayed but that’s a waste of time whether or not it is true. I don’t want to sit and convince myself that I am right about terrible things happening to me! I would rather look at the ways that I and/ or we (my friends and I) allowed enough unawareness and miscommunication to get in the way of love.

In this dream, these two friends of mine were living together (something that could never happen in real life if only for the drastic distance between all of us!) and trying to get me to be their third roommate. I was driving everyone crazy because I couldn’t decide if I wanted to live there or not. I worried they would take advantage of me and yet I really wanted to just be in a sorority with them and share in the love. They were rolling their eyes and didn’t understand why I thought they would ever take advantage of me, ever!

And that’s why this detox commitment is so beautiful. I have consciously agreed that I will not say negative things about others (or self) and for me, because I almost NEVER SSSSAAAAAAYYYYY anything- out loud!!!- lol- it is also about feelings of ill will or negative thoughts. That includes, “that b!@#$ screwed me over!”

So here’s what I did instead of thinking “that b!@#$ screwed me over” or the passive aggressive or hidden version of that. I have done PLENTY of journaling about these folks, and of course the sting of what happened has come up a few times (meaning fresh incidents with each of them) since the initial struggle. So rather than continuing to write about my feelings being hurt- because I have acknowledged that- I asked myself:

What am I gaining holding on to my hurt feelings and resentments?

I must be gaining something, right? Or else I wouldn’t hold on so tight any longer.

Like, I try to remind myself about one former boyfriend who WAS abusive- not to perpetuate the anger- but so that if and when he ever calls again I feel confident ignoring his phone calls. He may have changed or grown and that will be great for him, but I don’t need that energy in my life! I set that free, with love and hope for a healthy future!

Why can’t I do the same with these friends? Is this conscious grieving a lost relationship or hurts within that relationship? Or is this a hobby and a habit at this point?

I went for a jog during which I thought, “God, change me. Change me into the woman who no longer harbors these resentments. Change me into a woman who is loving and free, who doesn’t need to prove anything to them or have anything proven to me. Free us all of these shackles and let unconditional love be the only energy present between us.”

Let’s see if it works! I figure, at the end, at least I can let go of a grudge. Some people in my life have told me they think grudges are important or justifiable and I am of an opposing viewpoint: they do nothing for you, the grudge holder. A grudge is a prison of your mind and your heart. You are subject to that prison as long as you hold on to that grudge. I want to walk free, and I want you to walk free, too!

Tonight, in my dreams, maybe we will all just go to Disneyland together, and part ways at the end of the day with smiles.

In the meantime, Have a great day, and good luck!


This video is presented as an affirmation that I love my legs. :) 

Thursday, July 17, 2014

The Mabel Way

I have written a lot about my lovely grandmother, Mabel, who manages to seep into my daily life and thoughts despite having passed 20 years ago! She's the gal who taught me to collect 4-leaf clovers and would give me a "penny for your thoughts," so that every time I see a penny, I feel her participating in my life and remember how she would very actively engage me as a young girl. Through that simple act of asking and exchanging, she encouraged me to communicate my ideas to other people and so, these days, I don't let those pennies remain on the ground. I like to pick them up and spread them around, because to me, a penny isn't just a cent. It's a thought, a feeling, an idea, an experience.

So, I have been thinking a lot lately about what she taught my mother and therefore what my mother taught me, which is that you don't have to LIKE every person, but you do get to be KIND to every person. True love doesn't enable bad behavior, but it does love them.

During my last trip home to see my parents, my mother recounted a conversation she had with Grandma during Grandma's last days. Mom said something along the lines of... oh, I don't know exactly of course, but something like, thanks for being such a wonderful grandmother to all the little ones. And Grandma said, "I worked at it."

That was a big surprise to my mother when she heard it, and me when I heard it, because we all thought Grandma was just, well, Grandma!

Now, maybe it was her clever and blithe spirit teaching all of us (me and my mother) a little lesson or maybe it was true, but I see that the more I practice- work at it- the more fun it is to love everyone. Yes! Fun! Even the tough ones.

I remember a story about Grandma and a heavy breathing phone caller back when my mom and her sisters and brother were little kids. My mom and her siblings were kids in the 60s, and so the house had one phone and no caller ID back then, of course. Someone would call.... SOMEONE..... but who? This person would call on the reg, and start breathing heavily into the phone. Of course, this person only did that if one of the girls answered- it was a house of four daughters! They would never do that when it was my grandfather answering the phone. In those moments, the caller simply hung up.

Now, since we don't know, and never did find out, who knows if the caller was a pimply neighbor kid down the street pranking them (I did tons of that as a kid!) or some creepy pervert or somewhere in between or worse. But I do know, those phone calls TERRORIZED my aunts and mom! They would freak out when the call would come.

Finally, one day, the call came, one of the girls answered, the breathing started, her eyes got big and she pointed the phone. "It's him! It's him!" she whispered loud enough for the house to hear.

My grandmother got on the phone.

"Hello?" she answered?

(I can just imagine her sweet voice, instantly engaging the person across those lines....)

Heavy breathing.

"Hello?" she answered again. She paused, then said, "You know, you must be a very sad and lonely person. I feel so bad for you, having to call people this way and behave this way just for some attention. If you're bored, there are libraries just full of books. I really hope you find some way to make some real friends, and not have to bother other people like...."

Click.

I can just see her beaming smile as she replaced the receiver...

So, we've all had some version of the phone prank, or the heavy breather. And it isn't always as relatively... dare I say innocent? At least... NOT dangerous... as this situation.

But what I love about this example is that my grandmother not only refused to be intimidated, she responded lovingly and somewhat passively and sarcastically but without losing her temper and without getting upset. In other words, she owned the phone, baby! She took the power back, and was lovingly forgiving while still letting that heavy breather know he (presumably) was pathetic and should find a better hobby.

That heavy breather never called back.

I think about that because of life in Los Angeles in 2014.

I watch people losing their $%^& (I can't say temper, as my wonderfully couth Grandmother would approve, because here, it is $%^& they are losing!) on the roads simply because someone else doesn't drive as fast as they prefer, or because someone lingers two seconds at a stop light. I watch myself engage in that activity and catch myself. Not only does me getting mad in my car do NOTHING to improve traffic, it worsens my mood (not to mention my blood pressure levels.) It is one of the LAST arenas in which I catch myself being a brat, even if only I notice.

But traffic is an easy example. I think about how temperamental people get in public places, with their spouses, with themselves!

And the temper tantrum occurs and the rage feels justified and it seems like it gets it all out but really, doesn't it just more deeply justify the next instance of unhealthy behavior in your pattern?

And then I think of the Mabel Way. She just owned that heavy breather. She didn't have a temper tantrum on the phone even though she was angry at the caller for terrorizing her children and wasting her time. She didn't give HIM that power, nor HER that level of stress. She just said, "I feel bad for you."

Lovely, loving, and strong.

Maybe worth trying on a grand scale!?

........
      Penny for your thoughts?





XOXOXOOXOX

Erin

Friday, June 27, 2014

Singing, and Writing about Singing

I know only that I felt the impulse this morning. I awoke early with the buzz in my ear. I know that buzz. It's somewhere between an angel's sigh and a low hum. It's quiet, until I remove my attention from any other thought (traffic. the phone is ringing. rent is due soon. Oh, $%^& rent is due soon.). It is so easy NOT to listen to the hum (Oh, rapturous!) and instead let the LOUD hum of the collective human thought take over... but I choose the call of creation because I believe that by tuning into nature, or somewhere out there beyond right and wrong, or, wherever this hum will lead me today... I can at least change MY life for the better and more beautiful, if not someone else's.

Also, because I have, for most of my life, found that if I choose the hum of disconnected, random human thoughts that aren't called forth from my heart, I am very unhappy. So. Heart it is.

I am not one to believe that my thoughts are real. Oh, I can sometimes buy into them but as quickly as I can I pull out. Why? Well, I ask you, why not? Believing that your thoughts are real is dangerous because then when your thoughts change- and they will- just by dint of being alive you will learn something new. Trust me. Even the most religiously faithful to living according to "old ways" canNOT truly live that way because of the mere existence of cell phones and airplanes. Anyway back to this- when your thoughts change- or, rather, the world changes ITS thought but you only partially change YOUR thought, well then, you may just build up anger, resentment, and fear like plaque on your soul.

I don't really believe in plaque on your soul, either, but it's a fun metaphor to loosen up patterns that no longer work for me.

So talking about this and living this are two different things and for me, that is where writing, singing, and songwriting come together. Because through the act of listening, and then writing down what I hear, I get to practice dipping into the {collective} or "source" or UNIVERSE or the muses or whatever we want to call it- and then channel it into "individuality" if only for a moment. i.e. THROUGH this body and all its patterns and habits and growth.

Last night I sang at a beautiful little space off Sunset Boulevard. Charlie Chaplin's old house, in fact. It's now a light-filled wine bar literally three feet from one of the most famous streets in the world. Across the street from the Chateau Marmont and steeped in Hollywood lore. I love Hollywood, similarly to how I love literature. It thrills me, pains me, takes me on journeys and I wanna be a part of it. AND I know that it is not so much "REAL" as much as it shows me who I am at this moment by response to it.

See, this is, I think, the thing about thoughts, and life, and people, and art, and sports and politics and all the rest of it. Really, all any of it/ us is/are ever doing is showing us who we are. I am NOT conservative, I AM a bohemian, I am NOT a bohemian that doesn't use deoderant, Or blah blah blah whatever. That would be the outer personality of an Er-Bear, well, this Er-Bear anyway! I happen to know through the miracle of Google there are lots of other Erin Muirs out there and lots who identify with the nickname Er-Bear. And I know one Erin Muir at least is pretty conservative and definitely NOT a bohemian (she's military- and a very cool chick I might add!) And guess what. I look at her and I see me, parts of me. And I lose a little judgment and enter more understanding and then,

I write a song.

And then I sing that song.

Like last night.

Last night I had the most beautiful band. Great musicians. Great souls. The people who came to hear me sing are among my favorite people in the land- true friends among them- new friends. And there were moments when I just felt we were flying. I have this thing where, when it's good, I have no idea what I will sing next (and the song could be Happy Birthday!) I have no idea what I am writing next- I just let these words tumble out- and it is electrifying and terrifying and beautiful.

So something about last night- the way the late afternoon sun filtered through white curtains and white walls- the way the traffic outside would speed and then slow and people would poke their heads in to hear what was going on- the way I could look at everyone in their beautiful eyes and feel a shared moment- whether or not that was love I - well it was, really. It was all love. It was all love.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Imagine Graduation

There are so many beauties I want to share with the world, with you... I feel so full of love and creation that you might think I was pregnant. (I am not.) Well, one could say I am always pregnant with artistic ideas, songs and poems, and wishes of love for this old world. Today I am especially in love, that orange slice moon low-hanging in the sky, the Angeleno skies crippled for stars but rich with choppers. How can I be so moved in a place so unpoetic as a trash lined Victory Boulevard two blocks from three 7-11s? I don't know, but I can be, and I am, and the world is brilliant with possibility even in the urban quickening of foggy night.

Tonight was a beautiful evening. I had the privilege of performing as a guest singer at the high school graduation party of a young man who has cerebral palsy. While that may be the first thing anyone notices about him, it is certainly one of the least of his defining aspects of life. Throughout the evening, everyone shared in toasts and in conversation about this young man's joy and zest for life. He gave a speech himself (through the use of a computer tablet that he types into and which then "speaks" his words) that was so wonderful. He shared with us all how important he thinks education is, how important it is to read and communicate and share music. He told us never to give up, that you can do anything you want if you put your mind to it, and that to remember that no matter what, "Life is beautiful."

There is another reason that this moment held SO much meaning for me:

Most of you who know me, or have read my blog at all, know that in my teens I struggled with eating disorders, depression, thoughts of suicide and even went through various therapies and rehabilitation to overcome those issues. It was a long road, but I succeeded. I am today a very happy, healthy, positive woman who knows how to live life fully. I want always to be giving back and to help others in need.

And by the way, when I say it was a long road, well, the time may be relative, but it was a lot of work on myself and my attitudes toward life. It wasn't an intellectual decision to "get better" that did the trick, although that was part of it.... it wasn't something that I just one day decided to "get over." It took a lot of work, meditation, spiritual transformation, prayer and miracle (in my case, at least.) But I get it, I do, and I am living proof that, as Shakespeare said through Hamlet, "use can almost change the stamp of nature." Meaning: change your thoughts, change your life. (Thanks, Wayne Dyer!)

So, when I was at my worst point in life, when I thought it was not worth living anymore (but I didn't want to hurt my mother that deeply,) and I had just left college and being a music major and was stuck going to shrinks and group therapy and living at home and trying to come up with any reason why I should go on living, there was a TV show that I watched with my sister. This show made me laugh and laugh and laugh. In fact, it was one of the only things in life that I looked forward to at that time. It sustained me for quite some time, until I could get up enough on my own inner sense of courage to get back to my life. I can't say that it saved my life, because what saved my life is part mystery, part family support, and partly my own inner need to fulfill my life as a singer/ performer/ writer. But I can tell you that this show was one of the ONLY things that made me happy.

So, flash forward to years later. It was around 2012, or 2013, when I met this boy with cerebral palsy. I met him because he was a fan and then friend of a dear musician friend of mine, and soon, he would also listen to my music as well. It was months before I learned that his mother was the star of that TV show I loved.

One day, at a concert my friend was hosting, I ran into her. She said to me, "Just so you know, my son listens to your music on YouTube every time. Sometimes five, six, seven times a day." I didn't have the courage to tell her then- and I still haven't had the courage, but maybe an opportunity will arise and I will be able to say to her- how amazing it is that SHE HERSELF gave ME so much joy at a time when very little made me happy, and now it is an honor that I get to give back to her child. The fact remains that I almost didn't make it in life, I almost didn't go on living, (the stories of how and when I neared death will be saved for another time, or perhaps never, because they are not heroic nor to be glorified, but shared only with the intention of healing other hurt hearts...) and this is perhaps one of the most amazing gifts from the divine; a connect-the-dot from her heart to my heart to her child's heart through time and space... how could I have known while living in Minnesota all those years ago that I would someday be able to give back in 2014 in California? How amazing is this life? How wondrous these unseen events, this blue orb in the heavens spinning with so many delights! Oh, if only we can stay a little bit longer than we think we should, just to see the light dazzle in another's eyes, the song linger in all our ears. For if I had done the deed and had not lived, I would never receive this moment, this "proof" that it was all for some very important reason that each of us was put here on earth.

The young man said it himself. Life is beautiful.

As some of you know, I am currently singing as Cynthia Lennon in a new musical about John Lennon and Yoko Ono. Sometimes I think about John Lennon and all the good that I know and all the less than great (I am loath to say "bad") that I have learned and I think, we are all just trying! We are all so human. And then a moment of purity comes along and I feel that hope I discovered as a young girl, sitting down to play my mother's favorite song at the piano when I was about ten years old; the song with which we closed the evening tonight, that everyone joined in and sang along with, whether they were 6 or 60, in a wheelchair or walking, man or woman, parent or child....

Imagine there's no heaven
It's easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people
Living for today...

Imagine there's no countries
It isn't hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace...

You may say I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will be as one


I hope you are so inspired to bloom where you grow. Make your music, bang your drums, cook and sing and write and paint and run and jump for joy. I love you.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DVg2EJvvlF8

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Everyday Miracles

As the ubiquitous "they" say, AH! THE HUMANITY!

Of course, I mean my own humanity. It's been an interesting few weeks- most recently I have been transforming as a person in a quiet way. After last year's bout with walking pneumonia and the resulting exhaustion, I have consciously changed my life to eat cleaner and purer, breathe slower, and not take on so much. It's not that I love stress. I love my artistic passions! And therefore I love to do a lot and get carried away- but- more than that....

Last night in my acting class, my teacher pointed out something about the "way I learn" that, in a circle of thought, I realized was holding me back from not only "career success" but further enjoying my personal life. She pointed out that I don't celebrate my wins, that I don't study regularly, and that I therefore don't have consistency.

I don't. Ever since I was a kid, I just got stuff in school really fast and ended up skipping out on stuff that at first was too easy for me, but later, it became a problem. If I wasn't instantly the best at something it wasn't worth my time. Therefore I ended up rebelling against anything that was either a) too easy or b) I couldn't do right off the bat. And THEREFORE I missed out on a lot of normal life stuff. Like normal high school dating. Never did it. Normal studying and a normal college experience? Oh, no, mine was fraught with brilliant papers and rehabs.

Look. It's hard to talk about yourself objectively, but I am so excited about last night's revelation. I was doing everything in my power just to receive the critique. It was in response to a scene gone WAY OFF THE RAILS and an evaluation of the fact that I'm either HIT or MISS in class. I don't have grey zone. I didn't beat myself up, as I consciously do not do that. But I noticed the next rung on the ladder of emotional and psychological practices that do nothing for me:

Ye Olde Pity Party.

Ah, that old game.

But instead of it being the usual rigamarole, (I'm misunderstood, I never got to fulfill my dreams and go to the college I wanted, blah blah blah) it was: I have worked against myself all those years, not allowing myself to go through the pain of learning day by day, of doing normal things. In a way my life has been magical because of my strange stubborn attitude that everything must be magical and beyond amazing in my life... a life of literary proportions... but... now I see that so much of that was running and hiding and rebelling from a fear of being.... usual... normal... boring.

Oh, how wrong I was, though! First of all, I'm nor sure anyone is actually any of those things.

Second of all, by whose standards?

And thirdly, in my attempt to have an amazing life, I seemed to have forgotten that my life is based on my humanity.

Ah. Oh.

So, in my effort to "change my script," which is what I am doing every time I catch myself being negative, being a disbeliever and misanthrope, being upset by the world... I rewrote my life story thusly:

I am so excited to get to practice love in every moment, whether I am on stage singing or washing the floors or at my day job or having an ice cream. Each moment is precious, I see that now, and I am willing to be of service to Divine Love in whatever form NATURE so brings it. My intention is to use the best of my gifts as an artist to be of service to the Love, and I will simply flow with my passion an allow the river to carry me where I must go. I will ask humbly to remove any blinders that get in my way and I am grateful for the opportunity to have fun doing all of this.

That was last night.

This morning, as usual, my dog Henry and I went for our long walk through the secret passageways of the Valley, a long pathway full of sage and lavender and flowers and sunlight and trees and shadows, butterflies and birds and the occasional passerby. 

As I walked, I realized that my pity party had been hiding another poison, and that was, I was tallying up all these resentments and angers in my head... all the ways people had acted against me... I was building an entire case- not even consciously! Just ruminating on all of it. I stopped short as the smell of Jasmine from last night's bloom wafted mysteriously in the air. And then I asked if please, all of my anger and resentment would please just be taken from me. Please. I didn't want it any more. None of it. I didn't care if I was right or wrong, I just didn't want that anymore. I wanted to be of peace and love, of service to music and acting and writing, a poet of joy and service. I didn't, and don't, want those old stories to have meaning for me. I wanted to let it all go.

I exhaled and

at that exact moment, on my iPod, of thousands and thousands of songs,

what should pop up but Stuart Sharp's Angeli Symphony...

Those of you who don't know the story, please, visit www.angeli.tv and learn of this amazing tale... a man with no musical ability whatsoever dreamed of a symphony written by the angels upon the death of one of his children, and he struggled for years and overcame many obstacles in order to have the London Philharmonic record his beautiful symphont.

Of all songs, that one!

Not just a song, but 30 minutes of divine music, of proof positive of the ability of humans to transform and triumph in love with the help of spirit and, one another....

I smiled all the way home, and as soon as I got here, I sat down to write this. I just couldn't wait to share it with anyone who wanted to read or hear.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H6Oy7EQnNAk