Saturday, May 29, 2010

Portrait of the Artist at 69: The Happy Hobbler's Story

Yes, I am now hobbling without a wheelchair or walker. This is the 8th day. Someday I will be able to take a real walk or even a hike egads, but for now the marvel of being able to carry a cup of coffee upstairs or to carry a bag of groceries to the car is my celebration.

I had an appointment with Gary Einhorn, my business consultant at the Small Business Development Center yesterday. I've been acquainted with Gary for over 20 years. I started consulting with him in January when I realized I needed more support and business expertise in order to womanifest my dreams. Our 1-hour appointments are great fun. He reads the minutes from our last meeting and then I recite the litany of my current efforts, usually with many addendums and diversions. We have spirited conversations about art, people and growing a business venture.

I report that I'm getting ready to do an evening of characters, songs and scenes from my musical play on aging A New Wrinkle at Peggy Rubin's. (That's tonight!) My collaborator Laura Rich will present with me. She's bringing a drum and a guitar. We've never performed or presented material from the play together before.

Do I know who is coming? Well, the attendees from the
Center for Sacred Theatre workshop will be there for sure, and I hope playwright Dori Appel comes, and poet Robert McDowell, and dancer Robin Bryant who is supposed to be arriving with Julie McDiarmid, board president of the Arts Council of Southern Oregon. Angie Thusias, my old friend who invented Kentro Body Balance, has said she's coming. Otherwise, I have no clue. Gary says he thinks he will attend. That will be wonderful, I tell him.

No, I'm not nervous. It will be great.

Aside from that venture of this evening, there's the two choral pieces from the play. I want to get one of the local choir directors interested in supporting the rehearsal, recording and performance of those two gorgeous choral pieces.

Also, I am inventing fliers for 3 more performance gatherings I've scheduled so far in June and July. One will be at Melanie's at the end of June. It will include Ancient Voice, a form of wordless improvisational singing and sung poetry, transformational real-life stories, and a couple of songs or excerpts from my play. The other two events, in July, will be like the one I am doing with Laura tonight at Peggy's --They will focus on A New Wrinkle--one evening at Tangren's, the other Rob and Rochelle's. There's work to do to prepare guest lists for each of them.

No, I haven't heard from theater producer Peter A. yet with his feedback on the script. No I haven't heard back from Jim G. or Tammy M. yet. Gary tells me I need to find people to intercede and act as a bridge at times. He relates how he did that in his own natural foods business when people did not return his calls. Someone told me I had a hard sell/soft sell approach, he says. Just keep at it, he urges me.

There's a lot more to keep at. Raising $5,000-$8,000 to produce the play for instance. Finding other venues for performance gatherings in other cities. Doing a virgin voyage of a new workshop on creative aging. Checking out how to connect with and regarding raising money and finding a nonprofit status specially devoted to supporting artists.

The list-- like the beat-- goes on. Gary as usual looks at me with a smile and tells me "Well there is a lot going on!" He summarizes from his perspective the high points and main characters and sets out some action items he suggests I follow up on.
I'm glad to have this relationship as a support as I develop my work.

Metamorphosis. The progression from one stage or form into another. Change. Growth. Transformation. Emerging. Flying. Communicating. Sharing.

I'm looking at my little vision book, which is not yet half-filled. It contains images and words that encourage me. I've turned to the page where dear Carolyn Myers has written on a birthday card from 2009:

"Ride high! Write on! May all your pigs fly! May the ageist populace flee or convert!" On the opposite page is a rubbing of a hag who could be Baba Yaga riding a wolf.

Another person, Jane from my Artist Conference Network group has written:

"Gusto, humor. Sink your teeth into this potent, unarticulated subject and make us look."

These love notes inspire my momentum, especially when I feel a bit weary. This morning, I am not weary. I am quite happy, even though hobbling. I am looking forward to this evening.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

The Sea of Life

It's impossible to go through a day without returning several times to thoughts of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Whenever I think of it, I return to my childish superheroine fantasies.

Because everything that happens is part of us. The devastating earthquakes in Haiti and Tibet, the suicide bombers, the child brides. What news. I am sure it was no better in the past, but people did not know as much as we do today. We are given so much news of the suffering of the world. Even if we have anesthetized ourselves, we each carry a bundle of grief over the condition of the earth and of humanity. What to do with that grief?

Yesterday I wished I was Superwoman. I could fly down there and without any heavy pondering, wondering or littering of the ocean floor with various unworkable equipment, I could just remedy the catastrophe. And while I was there, I would clear the water of the oil that already gushed out into the ocean, and magically clean the living beings under and above the sea. If only I could do that.

So far, these heroic notions have not worked. I meditate and pray. Not heroic, not like Superwoman's exploits. I do the practice of Tonglen, breathing in all the poison, darkness, greed, sorrow and struggle and breathing out radiant light. I pray for happiness and ease for all living beings and of the earth itself. I pray for the harmony of the outer and inner elements.

To be alive at this time is to be keenly aware of how utterly and deeply foolish human beings can be, and what immense repercussions spill out over us all. Deep breath in and out. Remembering the essence.

Meanwhile, personal life goes on of course. I moved from the wheelchair to a walker as days of rain turned to warm spring sun. Ahhh...

I'm still working on a song "Are You Going to Take It with You to the Grave?" and visualizing how to bring my play A New Wrinkle forward to production. I will share excerpts from the play at the end of May at Peg Rubin's house in Ashland. Peg is the director of Center for Sacred Theatre. She also has collaborated for many years with Jean Houston in seminars that Jean presents. I've always thought Peg is an exceptional human being and am really looking forward to sharing the play with others at her place.

I have realized how much I want to share via solo performance gatherings and soon I will start to present solo performances titled "The Wisdom of Lived Experience." My first two performance gatherings take place in Ashland in June and July. I'll write more about them soon.

Just finished reading My Master's Robe by Thich Nhat Han, a beautiful book about his first months and years as a monk during the Vietnam war. Just re-read The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying by Sogyal Rinpoche, which is one of my favorite books-- so juicy, inspirational and full of practical guidance. I'm also re-reading Myriad Worlds, a wonderful book about Buddhist cosmology. World systems and the cycles of time have fascinated me since I was a teen. Some things don't change much.

I hope that some things do change, and for the better. May a rain of blessings pour down on this earth. Breathing in and breathing out, I send you a smile.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Monday Mysteries of the Here and Now

"Developing tenderness towards yourself allows you to see both your problems and your potential accurately. You don't feel that you have to ignore your problems or exaggerate your potential. That kind of gentleness towards yourself and appreciation of yourself is very necessary. It provides the ground for helping yourself and others."--Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche

Tenderness towards myself is my motif this morning. A cloudy morning after a night that found me thinking of my various artistic projects and my spiritual life. I was thinking of how much dedication and persistence it takes to develop and create things.

Carolyn Myers, one of my dearest friends, visited me yesterday. She's in the midst of developing with her friend Terry Baum a new venture, Theatre of the Crackpot Crones. "Two pioneer funny feminists in a theatrical revue of sketch comedy and improvisation," their pr material states. Carolyn has written award-winning plays and is a hilariously funny improvisational comedian. Incredibly talented. She deserves wide recognition and beaucoup bucks. I hope that happens for her.

She gave me a tarot reading with a new transparent deck. It was very positive regarding my creative work. But that didn't stop me from getting a bit grouchy a few hours after she left. Maybe I should blame it on spring fever and being a bit stir-crazy from my housebound life while my foot heals. I am out of the wheelchair and now using a walker. But I still found myself thinking about what it would be like to put things on hold and live in another country for a few months.

During our visit, Carolyn and I talked about our mutual friend Julie who just spent several months in Parphing, Nepal. I was thinking about how great it would be to spend time living in a culture where religious practice is a well-accepted way of life. I'd like to be able to walk around with my mala (rosary) and not have people give me dirty looks as if praying in public is some kind of affront. Which does happen here. There is a kind of religious oppression here, an insistence on the secular ethic. Which is quite odd for a country which was founded on religious freedom. Another friend spent months working in the clinic associated with a monastery an hour outside of Khatmandu. She talked about the mountains, the stillness, the monastic community and how peaceful it was to be there and be of service in the clinic, with plenty of time to do spiritual practice. In Nepal, people my age have the freedom to rest and turn within, focusing on their spiritual practice. It's built into the culture. Older people are not trying to engage in outer accomplishments the way we do here. I could go there and do that, too. Those were my thoughts last night.

"Tomorrow is another day," as my mother used to say when things got a big ragged. And so it is. I just had my weekly mutual coaching session with my friend Mouna, which is part of our Artist Conference Network work. In the session, I took a new stand. "I am real from the heights to the depths." It's good when being real includes tenderness towards myself, especially when things get stirred up, as they do at times. Being real could include a journey to Nepal to experience that way of life. Meanwhile, whether or not I take that outer journey, I continue to take the time to meditate, pray and drop into places of deep relaxation and healing right here and now.

I was inspired to discover Tao Porchon Lynch, a 91-year old who teaches yoga at her center in Westchester, New York. Her gentle way of being and joie de vivre are quite delightful. She provides a vivid example of health, balance and gladness.