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Archive for April, 2015

Slow down so happiness can catch up

Movement makes richest sense when set within a frame of stillness.  Pico Ayer

I love a big meal, a meal created with fresh local ingredients and set before me when I’m really hungry.  I want to feast on such a meal.  I want to eat with gusto, all of it, the food, the atmosphere, the deep sense of appreciation.  I love a big meal and I love the big meal of my life that contains such a meal.  And how do I take it in — this meal with its wide variety of tantalizing flavors, its many courses?!?  How do I take it in, this life that is full to the brim with possibility and spilling over?!?

How do I take it in, a Joy Center that offers taste after taste worth sampling, night after night, yoga and poetry and chocolate workshops and presentations on beekeeping and meditation and dancing and drumming and art and book release parties and potluck movie evenings?!?  How do I savor all of those flavors, and balance them with the other flavors, those trips that call me to the west and the ones that call me to the east?!?  How do I take it in, the bounty of family in Idaho, two sons and their families in the same charming town and grandchildren that bring the desert to any meal, a grandson who is my best friend, because, of course, a grandson would be a best friend and then there’s the granddaughter who will be born in August, a cousin to my almost-three-year-old best friend grandson, and of course, she is my best friend, too.  And how does a person eat that much desert?!?  And then there’s Maine with its sea breezes and its salt-filled air and the cousins and siblings and an aunt and an uncle and friendships that run deep and the roots that I stand on.  It is a course worth devouring, this eastward pull.  And I want it all, this big brimming meal of a life.  I want it all  — and I want to enjoy every delicious morsel.

It was on a plane this past month, carrying me home from one of those westward trips to Idaho, that I read in Delta’s Sky magazine a quote that I copied in my daily journal: “Slow down so happiness can catch up!”    Of course, that’s it!  That’s the key to savoring any meal.  Who wants to rush through this moment’s course when it can offer so much pleasure?  Who wants to gobble when it’s so much more fun to taste what is in your mouth?  It’s the meals that stretch on and on that I relish the most, the ones where a candle sits in the middle of the table and the flowers are freshly-cut and the company is loving and there is a presence that is palpable and the food has been prepared with a mindfulness that can be tasted.  I love such a meal.  I love the pause between courses, the lingering over desert, the deep breath that commits the experience to body-mind-soul memory.  And that’s what I want to do, to pause, to appreciate the feast at my table, to take it in, the bigness of it, to digest it fully in every cell of my body, every fiber of my being.

Because it is all so good — this meal, this living.   Two weeks ago, the sun broke through the clouds at dusk and glistened on the river’s rocks and the water rushed with the force of spring and an eagle flew right into that light and we watched from our restaurant table, my friend Muriel and I, as its tail lit up, as it circled in front of us, as we savored our food.  It is all so good, these weekends in Maine with friends like Muriel, and these times out west, too.  Easter Sunday, I placed my hand on my daughter-in-law’s belly, leaned in close and said hello to Baby Girl.  And later, I climbed in the Grandma bed, even though it was mid-day and no one was ready for a nap, climbed right under the covers, because my best friend grandson insisted we do so, that we take off  shoes and socks and snuggle and read our books on road work and dictionary words.  I love this boy with heart and soul!  And why would I want to rush through any of this?!?  And why would I want to push a course away either?  The poetry readings at Joy Center these past few months have set my senses flying and have nourished me deeply.  Truly, all of the offerings at Joy Center are deeply nourishing and my home life is hearty healthy food.

So here’s to the feast!  Here’s to the feast that is present for us all, in the foods that we eat, and in the lives that we live.  And it’s here in the pause too, in the slowing down like I’m doing right now — slowing down enough to remember how good it all tastes.  Happy spring!

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The Voice: Joshua Davis

If you ask me what I came into this life to do, I will tell you: I came to live out loud.  Emile Zola

An act of kindness is uplifting to the soul.  Lailah Gifty Akita

If you are always trying to be normal you will never know how amazing you can be.  Maya Angelou

I’m swept right up in a popular culture current these days and I have to say that I’m enjoying the ride.  It is the network television hit the Voice that has me flying high on the rapids of excitement and whooping with glee.  And if you ask me about the show, I’ll go on and on.  And if you don’t ask me, I’ll probably bring it up.  For years, I was the one listening politely and nodding my head as a friend of mine shared with me just how positive this reality show is that places a multitude of musical hopefuls in front of a quartet of coaches from the music business and eventually sifts through and finds a winner.  Sure, I thought.  How can it be positive when, week after week, contestants who are singing and performing their hearts out on live television are weeded through and booted off?  That’s what I used to think.  But now I’ve changed my tune.  I’m in agreement with my friend.  I’ve climbed on board this popular culture rubber-raft-of-a-show on a downstream high vibe voyage.  And I have Joshua Davis to thank for my participation.

I’ve known Josh’s father and his stepmom for twenty years.  They are friends my husband and I hold dear to our hearts.  And their son Josh, we hear news of him through these friends.  When he formed the band, Steppin’ In It, while in college, we became fans as did our sons, attending the band’s lively upbeat concerts when they performed in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and buying their CD’s.  And my respect for him deepened when he chose to follow his dream and make a go of songwriting and music-making not only as vocation but also as career.   After a trip to the Middle East in February of 2012 where Josh acted as a cultural emissary during the Run Across Palestine, he wrote and produced a personal and poignant album, and my husband and I attended a performance where he shared the stories and songs that rose up from this experience.  As he performed, I felt my inner walls tumbling down.  The situation in the Middle East is complex for sure — solutions don’t come easily when we struggle to figure it all out in our heads.  But, oh my, when we soak in the stories and when we listen to the music and when we realize that people are people and music is a universal language that creates bridges that are concrete and tangible, our hearts are lifted up and we feel hope.  That’s what I felt that evening.  And I loved Josh for bringing me to that place.

And now he has brought me to the Voice.  In comparison to a world where the Palestinians and the Jewish people of the West Bank are singing together, it seems like a frivolous place to find myself, but here I am, watching Live when I can and On Demand when I am committed to other activities.  And you know what, this place that might seem glitzy or superficial or Hollywood polished is as expansive and heart-opening and tender as a concert filled with Middle East peace-building.  I can’t believe I’m saying it, but it’s true for me.  There is the utter pleasure and delight of supporting beloved friends who are the proud parents of a participant who has now made it into the Top Ten in the country.  And there is Josh who brings a sense of wonder and joy, of deep groundedness  and peace to the show with his soul-filled voice and guitar playing.  I am his fan and I vote for him with gusto.  And then there are the other participants, the ones who now find themselves in the Top Ten, and the ones who have been eliminated.  The talent is amazing and I find myself cheering for them all, in awe of their willingness to be vulnerable on live television, their willingness to stretch the boundaries of what they think are their capabilities.  They inspire me.  And they fill me with their music.  And the cast of positive characters continues.  There are the four coaches, all super stars, super performers with their own super careers, and they bring to this stage a sense of generosity and kindness and honest critique that I didn’t expect from super stars or from a reality show.  They see the best in the performers.  They want the best for the performers.  They uplift, and they believe, and they share of themselves and their connections.  I could go on and on.  The host of the show brings his best self to what he is doing, as does the audience.

And isn’t that what we all want?!?  To be seen, uplifted, for others to witness and draw out of us our best selves?!?  And to do the same for others?!?  Always and in all places.  This show is a reminder for me — that I am more expansive than I think I am, that, I, too, can muster up the courage on the stage of my life to stretch my boundaries, and that I can encourage others to do the same.  It is a reminder for me to ride the current of positivity, of upliftment where we all are winners and where the ride itself is the reward.

Thank you, Josh!

 

Joshua Davis: The Voice 2015

Joshua Davis: The Voice 2015

 

Joshua Davis: The Voice 2015

Joshua Davis: The Voice 2015

 

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