In all this world, there is nothing more important than appreciating the preciousness of our human embodiment and doing all we can to increase health and happiness for ourselves and others - Tarthang Tulku

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Meditations on Kimbella: Musings on Smut

The way to see by Faith is to shut the Eye of Reason. - Benjamin Franklin

It is the eye of other people that ruin us. If I were blind I would want, neither fine clothes, fine houses or fine furniture. - Benjamin Franklin

It is the mind that makes the body. - Sojurner Truth


Today as I was walking home from teaching a yoga class and having a brain storm session about the WORLD Y.O.G.A. project, a boy handed me this postcard:



Such a vibrant invitation indeed to Kimbella's birthday bash, which is purportedly a celebration of "Love & Hip Hop". Now, I know these kinds of things go on in the world, and while I have been accused of being oblivious to the world around me, my friend Josh said to me tonight, " You seem like the kind of person who worries about everything but somehow looks like you're worried about nothing." That was the greatest compliment anyone has paid me in quite some and it couldn't be more true, by some freak of nature. I'm extremely worried about how we are going to uplift humanity as a human race. I am also worried that Kimbella has perhaps never seen The Birth of Venus or listened to The Faure Requiem or read Little Women. I'm also worried that Kimbella does not have any pants.

After the boy handed me this card, I continued my walk and came upon this gargantuan head of Benjamin Franklin, which made the intersection of past, present and future even more bewildering.

Something about this photo got under my skin and so I shot this first photo in what I call, the Meditations on Kimbella series: I don't have any explanation for the origin of this particular expression. It speaks vaguely of a snow leopard lost in the concrete jungle, but mostly I think it's the expression of a being who wishes to raise the wonder higher and is perplexed that a virtually naked well-oiled bottom found its way onto a Birthday invitation. What happened to ponies and rainbows? Birds and butterflies? Unicorns and cupcakes? Fairies and flowers? Balloons and sparkles? Cake and ice cream? Sigh. Kimbella, angel, your not leaving very much to the imagination, gorgeous. We must reignite curiosity and imagination in the hearts of mankind. Haven't you ever seen Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory, Kimbella, bella? I think someone needs to make an all black cast version of that movie, by the way. It's Time. Kimbella, you can play the brat who wants her golden ticket and she wants it now.

After that first photo, I sought solace in the company of some trees and tried to capture with my shoddy camera and my go-go gadget arms, some more of what I was feeling about Kimbella, Ben Franklin, The WORLD Y.O.G.A. Project, and William Penn's vision for the City of Brotherly Love as a "holy experiment." I reminded myself, gently, while people stared at me taking pictures of myself that Dr. Martin Luther King said, " Human salvation lies in the hands of the creatively maladjusted." This propensity I have to take photos of myself will some day translate nicely into film, though for now, this is where things are. We make the best with what we have at the Time. Anyway, I don't think a photographer would be able to capture these moments as I am able to, mostly because I feel them to be my one-on-one conversations with God and because I'm a strange girl, the kind Robert Smith sings about--- " I think you come from another world", he says, and I smile.

Here is Meditations on Kimbella, No. 2 In this photo, I was praying, "Dear God, please bring Kimbella some cute skirts or pants for her birthday. Also, please allow me to meet Kimbella some day, perhaps have tea and talk about love, hip hop, and birthday parties. Also, God, please speak to Kimbella's heart about how precious her booty is, that it is not for sale and that she is more, so much more, than her body. Amen."

Meditations on Kimbella, No. 3: While I surely appreciate being "invited" to the party, I don't think I'd know what to do with myself, really. I'd feel very overdressed, I'm sure, by virtue of wearing any clothes at all, it seems. Well, after your party, though, Kimbella, I really would like to chat. Have tea? Go for a walk in the park?

Meditations on Kimbella, No. 4: There will always be smut in this world but I wonder if we as women can collectively aim higher, raise the bar and inspire our sisters to do the same. I imagine Kimbella is good at a lot of things outside the bedroom that she'd like the folks at home to know about. I'd just like to meet her for the first time, under different circumstances. Right now, I've only met her rear end. There's something troubling about that to my heart, though I realize the menfolk find that perfectly convenient.If pigs could fly...

Meditations on Kimbella, No. 5.

“Modesty is the conscience of the body.” - Honore de Balzac





Thursday, October 20, 2011

Mr. Forbes, would you make it 108? It would be so great.



Success, recognition, and conformity are the bywords of the modern world where everyone seems to crave the anesthetizing security of being identified with the majority. - Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Where did your Christ come from? From God and a woman. Man had nothing to do with Him! - Sojurner Truth

In the sky, there is no distinction of east and west; people create distinctions out of their own minds and then believe them to be true. - Buddha

Better bend than break. - Scottish proverb

Forbes Magazine published the 100 Most Powerful Women in the World list not so long ago. I was sad to see Mother Earth didn't make the cut. Perhaps Gaia is too Earthy for the folks at Forbes-R-Us. I think most of us can agree by now that Mother Earth is taking back Sunday with a royal rise to stardom in this symphony of Life in the key of C: the note that corresponds to the vibrational healing of the Root Chakra. Perhaps so that we can all get on the same page around here Chakra Balancing should become part of Driver's Ed courses. Or maybe the good people of the Earth should be required to know what chakras are and how to balance them before voting. After all, the chakra system is simply a blueprint for healing with which we can learn to balance and manage our spiritual Power. At the very least, it's a fun way of thinking of yourself as a rainbow. And if that's too gay for you, well, that just goes to show you now doesn't it: everybody's gay! In the very English, jovial sense of the word, of course.

The root chakra, the Muladhara, is a red spinning ball of light located at the base of the spine and whether or not you believe in such things, oh ye of little Faith, it's there. Now, say it like Deepak for me now: Muladahara Chakra (Moo-la-dar-ha Chak-ra). This energy center governs our survival needs and instincts, our connection to Mother Earth and to our Tribe.It is the chakra that is, naturally, the most difficult to heal when one is recovering from trauma and abuse. For the menfolk especially these days, this chakra is an important one to activate and understand as it is a gateway to the Divine Feminine, something that most men seem to have a bit of trouble surrendering to. It's just societal conditioning, gentlemen. The rhythm is gonna getcha. "Seeing Red" should now, on this World's Stage, at this point in the evolution of our species, have another connotation for people far and wide: We are One.

The problems we're facing globally are spiritual in nature have only spiritual solutions. There is no problem that is too big for the Creator and miracles happen every day, we just rarely hear about the good news. And because we the people are so divided about who God is and would rather argue about whether or not God exists-- we continue to distance ourselves from the Divine instead of simply uniting and experiencing, viscerally, that we are all One and what this world needs now is love sweet love. Now this might sound too pie in the sky for the powers that Be, but I'm just reporting the facts. Don't shoot the messenger.

G.K. Chesterton said, “ If there were no God, there would be no atheists.”. I realize some people take issue with the word God, which I just find a waste of time at this point. Vell, if you don't like the word “God”, then make up a name for whoever it is you think makes the sun rise and set. Or whoever it is you think is flying this star ship enterprise. The healing this world needs is Divine healing and the prescription for restoring mind, body, and spirit already exists in our DNA. We have everything we need to heal ourselves if we just let go and let God, learn to open our minds and hearts to the suffering of others. Words like charity, pathos, mercy, grace, redemption, compassion, and forgiveness are words that we must all wake up to. It wouldn't hurt either if we could collectively work towards cultivating a daily practice of stillness, mediation, and concentration on breath.

So, Mr. Forbes, Gaia is gettin' after it. We met once, you and I did, Mr. Steve, back when the Gods dressed me up in suits and threw me to the wolves as Press Secretary for Mercer County Executive Bob Prunetti. We threw a fundraiser at Bob's house when you were running against Corzine for New Jersey Governor. These days you'd never catch me near one of those dog n' pony shows unless I had David Bowie in his Labyrinth costume there to protect me or my men in black.
Well, ho hum, here we are, Mr. Forbes. Funny how God turns tables, transforms minds, heals hearts, works miracles on the roller coaster of love- Ohio-players-style. Times they are a changin'.

Mr. Forbes, in the name of Love, light and rainbow brite, I would like to present to you with an Addendum to your 100 Most Powerful Women in the World list bringing this list to 108, which is a most auspicious number indeed. For starters, it's the number of beads on the mala prayer beads. In Ayurvedic medicine and philosophy, it's the number of pressure points on the body where consciousness and flesh intersect to give the life to the living being. It's also the number of suitors who were supposedly courting Penelope in Homer's Oddessy --- that little minx--- and well, if Stonehenge is more your speed, well, that there sculpture is 108 feet in diameter.

I present to you and your readers, eight women of power and influence, but much more importantly, of compassion, which I like to remind myself comes from the Latin, meaning “to suffer with”. These women are fiercely committed to restoring this world of walking wounded to balance, health, and harmony and ushering in a new world of light, love, unity and divine communion with the natural world.

We must stir it up a little, Mr. Forbes, for the people. Shake the Truth right out of them. That's what awakening the Divine within is all about and busting open the heart chakras on the upside down world on Fire. Bunch of liars, posers, and bona fide bullshit artists running this political circus, no? I've swam in those waters. It's almost not their fault -- we have simply forgotten who we are. I'd like to teach Wall Street how to walk on their hands-- maybe then we can empty their pockets. And Lord have mercy, I just found out Donald Trump won't shake people's hands because he's a germaphobe. Now, what's that all about? If I had my druthers, I'd assign him to some community service toilet scrubbing at an ashram in Rishikesh.

I am here, Mr. Forbes, to connect your world of movers and shakers to this network of women who work on the softer side of things--- the yogis, spiritual teachers, healers,tree people, hulahoopers, cosmic dancers, and peaceful warriors. We are a new wave of lovers, dreamers, visionaries, ushering in the heaven on Earth all beings are meant to inhabit. And so, you must not leave us out: we're a very important piece of the bye bye Miss American pie and of the prescription for the healing of this world on speed and in need. We thank you in advance for your interest in our labors of Love, our deep and abiding care for the people most in need in this wiggity wiggity wacked world of sports, Mr. Forbes.A new way of being here now, live on Earth has arrived and is here for the taking – and you can get hip to it or you can stick to the old tricks, kind Sir. But it's here and some fat cats are going to have to pony up around here. Mother Earth can't go on like this and neither can the people or the animals, or the Unicorns for that matter. Yes, the Unicorns. All creatures great and small, the Lord God loves them all. The number 108 is more better, Mr. Forbes.

Here's the lineup. Let me know if you'll consider a follow-up piece to your list. I do believe its Time you hear the Other side.

1)Amma – “The Hugging Saint.” Need I say more? She is a Saint who hugs people. Amma's world-wide charitable missions and humanitarian efforts are fueled by the wisdom in her words that, “ The one word solution to all the problems the world is facing is compassion.” In 2002, Amma was awarded the Gandhi-King award for non-violence. Amma says, “ My sole mission is to love and serve one and all.” Amma has inspired numerous humanitarian activities all over the world including free food and clothing programs, charitable hospitals, hospices, disaster relief programs, medical camps, schools, widows' pension, free legal advice, preservation of nature. The list is long and growing every day. People need to know about Amma.


2)Jean Shinoda Bolen, M. D, is a psychiatrist, Jungian analyst, and an internationally known author and speaker who draws from spiritual, feminist, Jungian, medical and personal wellsprings of experience. She is the author of The Tao of Psychology, Goddesses in Everywoman, Gods in Everyman, Ring of Power, Crossing to Avalon, Close to the Bone, The Millionth Circle, Goddesses in Older Women, Crones Don't Whine and Urgent Message from Mother. She is a Distinguished Life Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association and a former clinical professor of psychiatry at the University of California at San Francisco, a past board member of the Ms. Foundation for Women and the International Transpersonal Association. She was a recipient of the Institute for Health and Healing's "Pioneers in Art, Science, and the Soul of Healing Award", and is a Diplomat of the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology. She was in two acclaimed documentaries, the Academy-Award winning anti-nuclear proliferation film Women—For America, For the World, and the Canadian Film Board's Goddess Remembered. She is currently organizing the UN Sponsored 5th Conference on Women. Her most recent book Like A Tree: How Trees, Women, and Tree People Can Save the Planet is just brilliant. I dare Sarah Palin and Michele Bachman to read it and weep.

3)Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes, PhD is a writer, Jungian analyst, and trauma specialist. Her work in the 1960s at Edward Hines Jr. Veterans Hospital in Hines, Illinois. She worked with WWI, WWI, Korean and Vietnam war soldiers who were living with quadrapalegia, incapacitated by loss of, either/or, both arms and legs. She has worked at other facilities caring for severely injured 'cast-away' children, veterans with PTSD and their families. Her book Women Who Run With Wolves:Stories of the Wild Woman Archetype should be required reading for the menfolk at this point. Dr. Estes work and mission is becoming increasingly important in our healing crisis as she provides tools for healing and recovery for those who have been deeply wounded. I see her leadership as a trauma specialist as an essential piece of the healing equation.

4)
Carolyn Myss – an American medial intuitive and mystic as well as the author of number books including five New York Times Best Sellers: Anatomy of the Spirit, Why People Don't Heal and How They Can, Sacred Contracts, Invisible Acts of Power, and Entering the Castle Her Most Recent book “ Defy Gravity” was published in 2009.As far as I can see, her message and and vision is making some big waves in the medical community. What is most powerful about Ms. Myss' message is her interfaith approach to healing and courage to challenge the dominant patriarchal paradigm. Her work offers an examination of ancient systems of communion with God and practical approaches to self-healing that are accessible even to the most skeptical of skeptics.

5) Marianne Williamson – is a spiritual activist, author, lecturer and founder of The Peace Alliance, a grass roots campaign supporting legislation, currently before Congress to establish a United States Department of Peace. She is also the founder of Project Angel Food, a meals-on-wheels programs that serves home bound people with AIDS in the Los Angeles area. Her book A Return To Love should be required reading at this point for legislators. Ms. Williamson is a champion and leader of the recovery movement, the healing journey, and divine partnership.


6) Jill Satterfield is the founder of Vajra Yoga & Meditation, a synthesis of yoga and Buddhism that combines meditation, yoga asanas, visualization and contemplation practices. She is also the Founder and Director of the School for Compassionate Action for Communities in Need, a not-for-profit that trains teachers to offer yoga, meditation, and emotional support to at-risk youth, people suffering from chronic pain and illnesses, PTSD, and addictions. Jill is also on the Advisory Board of The Lineage Project, an effort to bring yoga and meditation practices to at-risk youth in New York City.


7) Robin Downs is certified Hatha Yoga instructor since 1996. She is also an Emmy(R) Award winner for "Outstanding Individual Achievement in News and Documentary" for ABC News magazine show 20/20 (1981). Her roots include East Indian, West Indian and Eurasian by way of the Boogie Down Bronx, New York and was an active participant in the Hip-Hop Generation. Robin’s professional journey from the media arts to the healing arts makes her the perfect guide into today’s rapidly expanding Yoga community. Robin has earned the distinction of being the first African-American female yoga instructor to have a internationally distributed Yoga DVD through Walmart, “Robin Downes’ Yoga Flava™ Volume 1: For Relaxation.” The release of the DVD in 2004 earned her the prestigious Yoga Trailblazer Award from the International Association of Black Yoga Teachers (IABYT) .

8) Holly Westergren – teacher, writer, yogi, artist, mystic, singer, performer, builder of spiritual bridges, dream weaver of the impossible dream. Holly has had a diverse professional background from barn hand to barista to Press Secretary, Editor for the NJ Office of Legislative Services, Public Relations Manager at Comcast, Literacy Instructor at the Center for Literacy in Philadelphia, Communications Consultant for Horizon House and Drexel School of Public Health. Holly attended Princeton High School and received a B.A. in English Literature and art history from Rutgers University. She received her 200-hr Yoga Teacher Training from Vibrant Living Yoga in Bali and additional training from Street Yoga.org, a non-profit working to bring yoga to homeless families and trauma survivors in undeserved communities. She is also working with the WORLD Y.O.G.A. Project to bring yoga to inner city schools in West Philadelphia. Holly's mission is to bring peace, hope, healing, and harmony into a world gone mad using as many mediums as possible. She is working on her book, Holly, Holy, Love about her spiritual journey, the discovery of her African roots in the City of Brotherly love as well as what its like, at the end of the day, to be named after a Neil Diamond song. H.WEST Productions, a creative playground/production company where all kinds of magic and maddness will happen will be up and running in January 2012.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Being Barely British in the City of Brotherly Love: A social experiment for the Ages



A difference in taste of jokes is a tremendous strain on the affections. - George Eliot

Do what you will, this world's a fiction and is made up of contradiction. - William Blake

Aim at heaven and you will get earth thrown in. Aim at earth and you get neither.- C. S. Lewis

I want the whole world. I want to lock it all up in my pocket. - Willy Wonka

We are not interested in the possibilities of defeat. They do not exist. - Queen Victoria


Today I was in a terribly English mood, the kind where nothing makes me feel better except drinking tea, listening to The Talking Heads, The Cure, and Herbert Howells, in that order. There are not too many Brits here in Philadelphia though I happened upon one the other night-- a yoga teacher from London. I mentioned to her that I too have English blood coursing through my veins, that my great grand father, Clare Collingwood, was from Sheffield, or so I've heard through the grapevine. I wanted to go on offering up my Sheffield trivia but she seemed bored in an " I'm from London" sort of way. In fact, I think she gave me that " You might possibly be completely out of your mind" face that some yoga teachers tend to give other yoga teachers when they're scoping each other out-- you know, the once over Yogasnobbery. Had she been a bit warmer I might have gone on to chat her up about Sheffield, nicknamed " the Steel city", also known as the greenest city in England with a reputed 2 million trees. I hear there are Peace Gardens in Sheffield, likewise Winter Gardens and Botanical Gardens. My heart pines for England more and more these days and so, perhaps this longing has manifested into channelling an English accent as some sort of armor in the fight of good over evil in this neck of the woods. Anyway didn't Madonna suddenly acquire an English accent a while back? I think its a survival instinct, really. And a lovely one, at that.

My frequent use of an English accent here in the City of Brotherly Love has been quite the fascinating social experiment, yielding the most interesting and hilarious results in my mission to raise the wonder higher, lift people's minds out of the gutter and to the hills, which are indeed still alive with the sound of music. As for London yogini, I think its best I kept my anecdotes about being barely British to myself. I do have a terrible habit these days of forgetting that cardinal rule of Public Relations: know your audience. Other times I think I just might as well say anything.



My instinct to use the English accent, which is a mix of Mary Poppins and Claire Bolderson from the BBC, was born out of my Old English soul's frustration with the comportment of young people today and peoples behavior in general, really. I feel my English blood gives me strength and comic relief in this kooky, spooky city. I didn't know my grandmother with the English blood too well but I know that she seems from her countenance in her pictures to be the kind of woman who had secrets and kept them well, a majestic and mysterious matriarch named Opal who knew that you always get more bees with honey and that the woman ultimately has the final say. Her nickname, in fact, was "Honey".


I do wonder how she would have handled herself in this scene I am about to describe.

One day when I was crossing a busy street called Broad Street, two teenage boys were walking beside me, cursing at each other, their pants sagging below their bums, their faces filled with anger and menacing looks to kill. I suddenly felt the perky and perfunctory Spirit of Mary Poppins come over me and asked myself, " What would Mary do?"

I felt my spine lengthen, I held my shoulders back and beamed a big smile in their direction with a nod of my head and simply said, " Good day". The one boy sort of smiled back and then shouted out to me, " Yo, Miss. Can I tell you something? I like your Teef. I wanna lick 'em". That's right, dear readers. He expressed to me that he wanted to lick my teeth.

" Good God, " I said, " You want to do what? Do you really say what I think you said? Is that what you tell the girls these days, that you want to lick their teeth? I do hope I'm hearing things."

At this point we had all reached the other side of the street and both young men stopped in their tracks with looks of bewilderment of their faces at my reply. They both started to stand up straighter, adjusting their clothes, pulling up their pants. Then, the one boy said to the other, " Yo, cuz. She's like a lady and shit. Wow. We're sorry Miss. I mean. Yo. We didn't know you was a lady, like. My bad. Where you from?"

" England. I'm from England. The United Kingdom. Across the pond. And where I'm from we don't often hear nice things about our teeth and so I thank you very much for the compliment. I wish you a pleasant day. Now, please do not go around saying such things to the ladies. It won't do you any amount of good, I assure you. "

They nodded politely." Yes, miss. Thank you. Have a good day."

I walked away amused by the absurdity of this strange inclination of mine, likewise at the magic and mystery of the power the English accent. It seems to act as a kind of wand to lift spirits and raise the level of interactions between human beings in this city, William Penn's "holy experiment". A Rasta man named Erwin once told me that the wood of the holly tree is what Merlin's wand was made of and I have often felt spiritually bolstered by that piece of lore. It should be noted that I do believe in elves and fairies and hobbits, for the record.

Today, I have England to thank yet again for protecting me from what could have been a rather compromising situation on the streets of Philadelphia. I was walking to take a look at an apartment in a neighborhood called Northern Liberties when two young men walked by me and one said, " Yo... you are so fucking HOT. Yo, lemmie get your number. Yo, sexy, got a boyfriend?" I ignored them, put my head down, repeated the Ganesha mantra in my head ( the happy Hindu elephant deity, remover of obstacles), continued walking as they continued barking obscenities at me in the distance. On my way back from seeing the apartment, I saw the same boys again who appeared to be lurking around the corner, waiting for me to reappear. They continued shouting at me at which point I became incensed and roared across the street in a voice, this time something like a cross between Angela Lansbury and Jennifer Saunders, " What IS the matter with you? Do you understand how obnoxious you are? It is heartbreaking and maddening and I don't understand what you think you're doing. Can we raise the wonder higher? For God's sake. Have you ANY decency whatsoever? "

The young lad froze in his tracks, his jaw dropped and he said, somewhat sheepishly, " I was just sayin', I like how you look."

I took a deep breath, " And I'm just saying that you are obnoxious and disrespectful and this is no way to speak to another human being."

He held his head down and then just looked at me with a look of wonder. I stared at him from across the street waiting for a response. He said, quite sincerely, as if he was surprising himself with the words, " I apologize. Really. I apologize."

I nodded impatiently, said thank you and continued on my way.

Now, if I had just used my regular speaking voice, I know it would have not had the same effect. I've been in this situation before and it does not command the same authority, for whatever reason. And if I had simply fired back like an angry Italian New Yorker, that would have probably increased my "hotness" factor for reasons I do not wish to understand or contemplate. I'm sick and tired of men objectifying women and women playing into that game in our ridiculous culture. I wish Maxim magazine would rot in hell, likewise all pornography. I wish people would look at real art instead and learn how to inspire themselves and cultivate imagination with their own bodies and spirits. I'm sick of men treating women like pieces of meat and vice versa. Mostly, I just have an aching in my heart for us to all, collectively return to our Divine nature and in that, realize that all of these detours away from Divinity are the source of our shared pain and suffering and insatiable hunger we refuse call a hunger for God. This sounds puritanical but it's not- its just a return to purity, to innocence, to wholeness, to love, to a rebirth of a global renaissance. Sort of like back to the Future, in real Time. Someone asked me to explain what I meant by that. I can't. I defer to Louis Armstrong who said, " There are some people that if they don't know, you can't tell 'em".

A return to innocence is real and possible even for the most wounded and twisted and temperamentally tortured among us. My friend, Interfaith Minister, Rev. Ken Metzner, feels differently. He thinks there is no such thing as spiritual innocence, really, but I am of a different mind and heart. Perhaps it's because I'm a woman or a Christian mystic that I have had this experience and a passion for sharing my circuitous route to discovering it with others. I believe we get do in fact get to start over again, that God gives us that chance to be his child again, to be reborn, redeemed, and experience ourselves as God's beloved again.


I was, however, born to believe in Faith, trust, and pixie dust, polka dots and moon beams and pockets full of miracles, so I do not expect everyone to pick up what I'm layin down. But I am, contrary to popular belief, also quite grounded to this Earth by the tracks of my tears, by my Mother, the ancestors, all of their pain, suffering, and sacrifices, and by my African soul which has led me to a deep river and an inner knowing that my Home is over Jordan. Balancing these polarities, a sacred English heart and a decidedly African soul has been part of the comedy of errors, the joy, sorrow and mystery of my spiritual climb, the agony and the ecstasy, as that goes. God has blessed me with a musical mind and a singing voice, I think to keep me company on the road and to remember that indeed it was from heavenly harmony that this Universal frame began. This Truth is all we need to remember, moving forward, rebuilding, healing, uplifting, and peacefully coexisting. We are One.

As for being barely British, well there's a club I've started -- so far there are three of us, me and my two barely British brothers, Mr. James Hillary and Mr. Michael Charles. Perhaps we should start a talk show: Barely British. We're all barely British enough to know that all we need is love, that a joke is a very serious thing and that alcohol, for better or worse, makes us much, much funnier and perhaps more pleasant to be around. This of course is why Saint Martin remains my patron Saint -- patron Saint of Alcoholics and generally a good one to have around if you've got the love of liquor in your gene pool.

Well, cheers then, dear readers. Hope you enjoyed these notes from the field. Perhaps me and my super friends will conduct some kind of sociology study and make a film about it. That would be somethin'.


Love serving Love.

There is no such thing as public opinion. There is only published opinion. - Winston Churchill

On the Radio This Mornin'


Hello beautiful people.
I'll be on G-town radio today 9-10 am EST with Ed Feldman. It should be a grand old time. Tune in, call in.

Love and light,
Holly

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

FYI: God owns everything.


God owns everything. Therefore, know at all times that as God's child you own everything that belongs to the Father. You must feel fully satisfied and contented, knowing that you have access to all your Father's possessions. Your native endowment is perfection and prosperity, but you choose to be imperfect and poor. The sense of possessing everything must be a mental habit with each individual. - Paramhansa Yogananda, How to Have Courage, Calmness and Confidence

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Your Yang Is Getting a Little Grey, eh?


A dear reader Robert Caldwell commented on my last post, " Your Yang is getting a little grey, eh?" after my announcement to move to a softer blog title called "Holly Holy Love". Perhaps he's right. I suppose I just started to feel like I don't want to be calling anyone a "bitch" anymore. Alas, maybe I have gone a bit too soft in this dog eat dog world. I just don't know. As Walt Whitman says, " I contradict myself, very well I contradict myself." Maybe this was yet another classic self-sabotage move, throwing out the baby with the bathwater. Maybe I'll just keep both blogs going, which is crazy, but we'll see what happens. I'm curious, readers, how do you feel about the word "bitches" and its place on the world's stage against the backdrop of our global healing crisis? Do tell.

Now, some very yang yogis sent me a new web site to share with you all called Yogastage.com. Now, I confess, I immediately took issue with the name, mostly because I tend to think that part of the trouble with the way yoga is taught in the West is that it has become a stage for personalities, but I suppose that's just the way it is, I should likely not take it so seriously. In any case, it is a beautiful site where teachers can advertise their workshops and post their bios.

I would make one recommendation to the folks at Yogastage.com to create a section on the site where we shine a light on Eastern deities to keep eye towards the art, dance, an poetry of the East while practicing the physical postures and booking yoga vacations. I would like to see The Vajra Yogini get first billing at the next yoga show on the yoga stage. She is, afterall, the Trauma Goddess and people are hurtin'. Vajra Yogini is often described as " the diamond maiden, the player of games". She describes herself here:

The Trauma Goddess is called for people in painful situations
Where anger and hatred block the path of the soul
I evaluate the benefits of revenge
And give better suggestions for spiritual growth.

I am not suited to polite society
To social striving, upward mobility, and making good impressions
I am radically honest, sensitive, brilliant, and blunt
I hold up a mirror to the best and worst facets of human life.


I find great comfort in these words. Especially the part about not being suited to polite society. That's my favorite of all.

It's true, Robert, I am in a decidedly Yin mode, mostly because I'm in transition, my mother is virtually homeless, penniless, can barely walk and is an angry, walking time bomb desperately in need of head to toe healing like much of the walking wounded world. Of course if you're a Trauma Goddess, you must move through the fire of other people's post traumatic stress in order to do your job well and I welcome the challenge and I do wish to some day to send her to one of those detox retreats where she can punch pillows and cry and do yoga with horses. Rome didn't crumble in a day. Naturally, the yin mode is a means of conserving energy, a survival instinct, really, and I do see it as a necessary rite of passage on the journey of a Christian mystic. There's a wonderful book called Mysticism: A Study in Nature and Development of Spiritual Consciousness by Evelyn Underhill in which she talks about this yin quality as part of the method to the mystic's madness:

It remains a paradox of the mystics that the passivity at which they appear to aim is really a state of the most intense activity: more, that where it is wholly absent no great creative action can take place. In it, the superficial self compels itself to be still, in order that it may liberate another more deep-seated power which is, in the ecstasy of the contemplative genius, raised to the highest pitch of efficiency.[36]

There is a beautiful Victorian illustration by Arthur Rackman that I love that to me exemplifies this yin feeling in the Fall --- it's called, "Feeling Very Undancy".

To trouble with all these healing modalities and all these posh yoga retreats and workshops is that they are expensive for folks who are sick, on disability, on welfare, just barely scraping by-- like my mother, for starters, who fell ill with fybromyalgia and chronic fatigue and has yet to bounce back. I hope to start a foundation where there are funds available for people to enjoy these healing retreats so they can go back into their communities and share their experience and renewed health. If my mother were kidnapped by a team of healers ( any takers?) and maybe spent a month at a retreat center somewhere, I know she would feel like a new person and would be inspired to help so many women who have been through what she has been through. This is where the disconnect in the Yoga.com world in the West exists. It seems there are more charitable outreach efforts directed overseas than right here in our own backyards.

Yogis need to Unite for humanity to bridge the cultural and economic divides that exisit between the people who shop and Whole Foods and read Yoga Journal, and the rest of the human race in this here U.S.A. in yer Chevrolet who cannot afford Kirpalu retreats or even yoga classes. If Seane Corn is serious about wanting to get together, I would happily take her on a field trip to West Philly where I teach 6th and 7th graders as part of the WORLD Y.O.G.A. project. There are pictures of Rhianna, Willow Smith, and Niki Manaj in the girl's room, Seane. I secretly wanted to post pictures of Mother Teresa and Sojurner Truth. What the world needs now is love, sweet, love. What we need to be doing is training a more diverse population of teachers to bring healing, leadership, love, and light to the inner cities.

On my way home to see my mother the other day, at the train station, a graphic on the back of this guy's sweatshirt caught my eye. It said, " Heavenly Sins", with an icon of glittery prayer hands. I couldn't help but ask him what he thought this meant, but as it turned out he didn't even know the writing was there. We ended up talking about how backwards things are in this world. He was reading a book called The One Thing Holding You Back and I asked him if he figured out what that was. " Emotions", he said. I second that emotion.

I asked him if I could take a picture of him, he was using the payphone, which I think is a good reminder to people, in case their cellular devices break, there are still payphones available and people still use them.


I'll sleep on this tussle I'm having with Namaste, Bitches. Robert's got me thinking that a voice of paradox that is both sweet and salty might cast a glare in the direction of some people who did not yet receieve the memo: we are One.

Meantime, beautiful yogis, I wish you love, peace, and perfect pumpkins of the Vata season.

Love and light,
Holly

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Changing horses in midstream: We're movin' on up.



Where did your Christ come from? From God and a woman. Man had nothing to do with him. - Sojurner Truth

Heal the world, make it a better place, for you and for me and the entire human race. - Michael Jackson

Someday we'll find it, the Rainbow connection, the lovers, the dreamers and me. - Kermit the Frog

Imagination decides everything. - Blase Pascal



My dear readers and denizens of the good Earth,

For some Time now, I have been on the fence about whether or not to keep this blog alive in the name of love, light, and comedy tonight. As Winston Churchill said, “ A joke is a very serious thing” and sure there is some existential tongue and cheek sardonic Truth to the paradoxical pairing of the words “ Namaste” and “Bitches”, but we are facing a healing crisis of epic proportions on this World's Stage, and my higher Self, that crown chakra situation simply does not resonate with the word “bitches” anymore-- unless you force me to watch The Desperate Housewives of New Jersey or if I happen to get some Ludacris in my ear, which happens from Time to Time in the City of Brotherly Love. But I'd rather raise the wonder higher, as Saint Ceclia, the patron Saint of Music, beckons us to do. Well, hark the herald angels sing and l'chaim. We've got a world to save-- to harmonize. Or to Marvinize, if that's more your speed. Mercy, mercy, me is right. Things ain't what they used to be.

I never did care for the word "bitch" really. The title for this blog was borne out of my own wrestling with the polarities of my personality, the veritable war of the worlds in this vessel, with Italian, English, German, Swedish blood coursing through my veins and a decidedly African soul. But, we evolve, don't we? Hopefully? I suppose I've always been intellectually interested in paradox and what it can teach us about our own Divinity and the absurdity of the paralysis by analysis we human beings seem to enjoy. I'm also intrigued by how uncomfortable paradox makes people and what role paradox plays in our search for Truth. But those "tussles with the wallpaper" as Nabokov wrote somewhere, are things for the brain, really. I'm sick of my brain. I've been head strong too long. Heart strong, more better.

The world is upside down and on Fire. We've got a world to uplift and it's going to take a miracle to get this thing moving in the right direction again and I dare say purity of speech is one very big part of the healing equation. Much of the world has gone insane in the membrane but in my heart, Hope truly does spring eternal, despite the fact that it does feel at times that this whole operation Earth might spontaneously combust at any moment.

The other week the New York Times reported another tragedy that some Tibetan monks set themselves on fire. Now, you know its bad when the monks are setting themselves on fire. Heavens to Murgatroid. I do not mean to make light, except that I do because I do believe it is the only thing we have left on this ship of holy fools: levity and the reminder that God wants us to be happy, that we are creatures built for Joy amid the suffering that heaven is a place on Earth, ooo baby do you know what it's worth? Just take it from Justin Beiber:“ You smile, I smile,” he sings, that angel. Such a pure, puppy-love a sentiment.

Now if we can just get the Beiberites to do the yoga, we'll be cookin with gas, as they say. I'll work on that as part of the World Y.O.G.A. project I've been teaming up with to bring yoga to schools across the world. Maybe we can get Justin Beiber to teach yoga some day. I had a 6th grader from KIPP Charter School in West Philly describe yoga as, " A connection to the spirit world and to the world of cats, because cats are a very big part of the spirit world." That, my friends, Romans, countrymen, is where its at. I thought I could organize freedom, how Scandanavian of me. - Bjork

I am writing to you, beautiful people, to remind you that we are on the precipice of great inner and outer transformation. A global Renaissance is upon us and the cosmic shift is underway-- away from the patriarchal paradigm and a conscious return to Mother Earth who is taking back Sunday with a vengeance. And to adjust to this shift, I need some more horse power. I am a Queen of the Stoneage, you can tell by this blog. If it were up to me, I'd have a horse and a typewriter. And so, I am changing horses in midstream, against Abe Lincoln's advice. I come from two generations of horse women –both my mother and grandmother rode English and Western

and both are not terribly inclined to listen to the advice of men, with the exception of poets, priests, Jesus, Louis Armstrong and Frank Sinatra. An admittedly strange combination. So, it's time for a new pony. Perhaps a white one with a rainbow colored mane.

I've received the call from on high, trumpets and all, to move on up in glory, to follow my bliss, to follow the dream I have been given to dream. The impossible one. The one where God whispered to me, “ You will build a bridge between worlds and it will be made of a rainbow and most people will not believe you when you tell them you are Queen of the Fairies or that you were a snow leopard in a past Life and a church mouse and a Lioness, but you just keep on keepin on, my angel in the outfield, my cosmic dancing Queen- Abba-style. You will bring the things of heaven down to Earth, you will remind the good people of the world that Heaven is a place on Earth and Paradise has not, in fact, been lost, contrary to popular belief. You will walk the path of the Raja yogi and teach the world to sing, in perfect harmony." Cat's outta the bag, kids in the hall.

Now suppose I told you I am writing to you at least in Spirit from the Center of the Universe or better yet, the Rooftop of the World. What Proof would you need? To that I say-- POOF! I do think my snow leopard spirit is in search of Imeon, the rooftop of the world in the Trans-Himalayas. It seems even if I have not yet seen that place, I've surely been there in my dreams and have been given a bird's eye view. I just so happen to be in Philadelphia, at the moment. Philadelphia was indeed William Penn's holy experiment and in many ways, my being planted here has been the same.

I think its funny that New Yorkers tend to think that New York is the center of the world. I've had friends remark about my living " off the grid", and I always think to myself, " Grid? What grid? There's a grid?" There are many ways to live, is my point. I think Americans forget this all too easily in this so-called United States. Are we United? I have no idea. Sure doesn't feel like it.

Part of the trouble with this world gone mad is that we worship the new and not the eternal. The spirit of the natural mystic blowin' through the air has been forgotten. What we need desperately in the West is a revival, really, of many times, places, faces, sounds, scents, dances, dreams, and rituals rooted in community honoring the earth and the heavens in as many ways as possible. We live in a wired wacked out world of greed, toxicity, violence, noise, nonsense, lust, delusion, decepton, depression, addiction, and unbelief, but there is also much of the good Earth left and where there is love there are always miracles. What we are collectively craving more than anything is a return to innocence, but the prospect of going back there is painful-- we've been separated from our Divinity for so long. As Meister Eckhart said, “ Though we are God's son's and daughters, we do not realize it yet.” Ever notice, those of you who teach yoga, how harrowing an experience “happy baby” pose is for folks? It's a downright traumatic affair.

Sigh. Imagine all the people, living life in Peace? Now, John really can't be too happy up on his cloud right now. The gap between the haves and the have nots keeps getting bigger by the day and it really makes no sense at all, Mr. Forbes. I'll have a word with you later, I imagine. I met Steve once, back when God dressed me up in suits as a Press Secretary and made me shake hands with a lot of Republicans. I'm sure that will come in handy again some day. If I could offer one message of Hope to our President it is this: the yogis are coming! The yogis are coming! And if you don't keep your wits about you, you may get trampled on by a herd of elephants. We're coming for you Palin, and your caribou too, who we will escort to a witness protection program.

All we really need to do is to open some more heart chakras, share the wealth and get back to the garden. I'm not sure how its all going to balance itself out again, that's God's finished work and Jesus' Victory at the cross and Buddhas promise of a pure, happy and shimmering Land of bliss. They were brothers, y'all. We just have to breathe and believe in the promise of a new tomorrow, the ushering in of a whole new world, a new way of relating to ourselves and each other. And if you don't believe in God, well then whoever you think makes the sun rise and set and whoever you think is flying this thing.

In the meantime, I hope you'll follow me to my new empire under the Sun called Holly Holy Love, which is the name of a Neil Diamond song I was named after. If you've never heard the song, it's a good one.I will tell you more about this dream that's been chasing me for some time now and my discovery of what feels like the Holy Grail for my generation, or as my soul mate from the desert, Samir calls it, The Holly Gale. I am indeed a child of the winds and have been blown about for some time now. I have relied on the kindness of strangers and I get by with a little help from my friends, you know who you are, you have given me my wings. At this point I can either land the plane or take flight. I do believe I can fly, R Kelly-style. Holly Holy Love is the story of Jersey girl named Holly Jean who became a do-it-yourself yoga Queen. Kind of like Eat, Pray, Love but different. Same, same, but different.

A dear South African chum who I met at yoga teacher training in Bali named Lindy said she had been reading this here blog and commented to another soul sister of mine, Miss Janet Kipling ( descendant of Rudyard, you don't say) that, “ her life seems to be pin balling and there seems to be so much of the world she'd like to see otherwise”. It's true, Lindy, and it makes me want to sing Moonriver to you or better yet, Pinball Wizard, by The Who.

He was a deaf, dumb, and blind kid, Lindy, love. Do not the yogis teach a withdrawal of the senses? Anyway, as Muhammad Ali said, “ A rooster crows only when it sees the light. Put him in the dark and he never crows. I have seen the light and I'm crowing”. Bakasana, baby. With cheese. Con queso, Lindy, darling.



We're movin on up.... to the East side... to a deluxe apartment in the sky......


Whose comin' with me???? I'll get you outta there Mama....

ShalOM in the home.

Keep calm and sparkle, dear ones.

The rhythm is gonna get you.

Yours Truly,
Holly Holy Love ( aka H.West)



Jerusalem by William Blake

And did those feet in ancient time.
Walk upon England's mountains green:
And was the holy Lamb of God,
On Englands pleasant pastures seen!

And did the Countenance Divine,
Shine forth upon our clouded hills?
And was Jerusalem builded here,
Among these dark Satanic Mills?

Bring me my Bow of burning gold;
Bring me my Arrows of desire:
Bring me my Spear: O clouds unfold!
Bring me my Chariot of fire!

I will not cease from Mental Fight,
Nor shall my Sword sleep in my hand:
Till we have built Jerusalem,
In Englands green & pleasant Land