*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.
Tuesday, October 28, 2014
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.
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?
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.
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."
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.
Friday, October 24, 2014
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.
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.
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
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!
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.