A Lost Art

date on cellphone

“With life as short as a half-taken breath, don’t plant anything but love”.  Rumi

A gift we often overlook in life is the gift of presence.  Being fully present with our own soul, our body, and our thoughts is hard to achieve in a society of abundant distractions. With skyrocketing technology, we scatter our life moments like seeds on un-fertile ground, never staying with any one moment to cultivate, nourish and add to the soil of our lives, enhance our relationships or till the rich ground of our hearts. Without being fully present in our lives, nothing we do fully grows and flourishes.  Without love and without great attention, true intimacy is not possible.

Enter the cell phone, the iPad, texting, and instant accessibility.

What has happened to us?  Why are we so seduced by the incessant buzz of cyberspace, the interruptive three sentence texts that take us out of one conversation into another disembodied one?  Could it be that the availability and desirability of every kind of impersonal communication from email, cell phone, text, chat and dating online really in the end serves to protect us….from intimacy?

And more truthfully can these endless illusions of connection be a new addiction? What is it about having several conversations at once that even suggests anything of substance?  Once drugs and alcohol were the favorite barriers to being fully present but now…. it is far more powerful to have the best iPhone and the newest way to say very little and never have to look a single soul in the eyes.

Dis-embodied relationship is simply easier, less risky, less exposing, safer, and far more superficial. And it is delusional.  We imagine what others look like, are feeling, the intonation of their words…we just imagine it.

I wonder sometimes if I am the only one who finds my heart sink or my blood boil when someone asks me how I am and I venture out into an answer, weighing how honest or vulnerable to be and then leap, say something, only to look up from my courage to see the person who asked the question in the first place, staring down at their lap, clicking away a text to some unknown and uninvited person, as they smile over a private moment?  In that instant I feel thrown overboard and floating in an ocean of relationship entirely alone. Unvalued, disrespected.  The person then looks up and scrambles to remember what we were talking about and I sink back into my chair, accepting defeat and making small talk.

Am I the only one who wants to walk out of a restaurant when my children answer the phone in the middle of an intense conversation, or interrupts my train of thought to text a friend.  Has anyone noticed that conversations are now far more short bursts of thinking than long lingering conversations that lead to creative and passionate connection?   Am I the only one who in that instant feels a twinge of being utterly unimportant an that I am loosing out on something precious?   I doubt I am the only one.  But our culture is making this not only acceptable, but the norm.

The newest generation if adolescents who have grown up with a phone at their ear and a computer to spell check their term papers thinks that they know what relationship is but in reality they are totally unable to be fully present and intimate with other human beings. Because they are never really fully present with their own thoughts and feelings for more than an instant.  We are growing a culture of separation and alienation with all of our connectivity of technology.  We are forgetting about basic human interaction on a physical plane and we are getting used to it.

Today I had a business meeting with a colleague.  I took time to schedule it in my busy day, to put important time into making sure we covered the necessary agenda and looked forward to being productive and creative with someone who is very important to me.  First my colleague was 15 min late, and then there were six unrelated beeps and texts that stalled out our conversation each time.  I slowly became angry and finally got the courage and said something about how unacceptable the interruptions were.  I was met with anger and sarcasm.  In the end my desire to have my colleague be fully present with me was met with criticism.  I went home feeling very sad.

What was I sad about?  I was sad that to want full presence and attention from my colleague and require respect and presence when I am speaking with him was met with disapproval, anger and belittlement.  How did I come to be the one who is in the wrong?  When did being fully present become a “problem” for so many people and why does my wanting it make me the odd person out?

I confess.  My kids might say it is my age.  But, I think maybe not.  Old fashioned is not always un-evolved.  There are some basic tenants that follow through life as true generation after generation.  They are the tenants of being human, and in the end technology is making us forget how to be human with ourselves first and with others by way of not being present with self.

Tenant #1      Our five senses are required for true intimacy and connection.  Eyes meeting eyes, the tone of ones voice, the touch of a hand, body language, the smell of someone, appearance and the all-important smile.  These are the bedrock of intimacy, of truly knowing someone and they are necessary ingredients for the chemistry of love that cements a bond to even have a chance to exist.  Without the sensory connection to another, we cannot thrive but only live a relationship of the mind.

Tenant #2      Dis-embodied words have little impact without tenant #1

Tenant #3      The language of love and connection must be physical.  The physical is the soil that relationship roots itself. To be physical one must be fully present with tenant numbers one and two:  Fully present in our bodies and our mind as well as fully present with our words.

The incredible movie “Her” took the theme of intimacy and relationship and posed the question: “what is essential to have a vibrant and loving, fulfilling relationship.”  Was a relationship with a computer operating system somehow better than the ups and downs of living with someone and being fully present?  This movie explored some of the most basic themes of being human and being in love.  Of being vulnerable and having meaningful connection.  Yet, our culture is creating every opportunity to make sure that we never cultivate true connection and that we loose the art of being present fully with another person.

So, I left my experience today remembering what is truly important to me:  I want eyes meeting eyes, I want full attention so trust is created, I want the body language, the engagement, the energy mounting and creativity spiraling into new ideas and smiles being abundant without the beeps and clicks and eyes darting to the phone in anticipation of…what…what will be missed?  What is missed is the moment. What is missed is being fully engaged with self and at least one other human being who is sitting right there.  I don’t want to look at my watch ever again wondering when my friend, my colleague, a date or my children will take the time to be fully present with me and will turn off their phone and scoot the chair in and simply be there.

Today I didn’t even bring my phone with me.

In the end, I am probably going to piss a whole lot of friends off.  So be it.

 “Life is available only in the present moment.  If you abandon the present moment you cannot live the moments of your daily life deeply”.  Thich Nhat Hanh

Failure to Thrive

Power of Human Heart

 

“When all your desires are distilled

You will cast just two votes:

To love more

And be happy”

Hafiz

 

When I was studying Developmental Psychology at Harvard I was fascinated with research that was being done about a babies inability to thrive emotionally and physically when they were not touched or picked up.  Some children simply die.  Others developed physical complications and later emotional issues.  So, in the world of psychology, that seemed perfectly understandable to me.

But, later in life the question that has great relevance for me is “what about the spiritual implication of a failure to thrive?”  I had noticed over the years that animal behavior was centered on the pack, the flock, the herd and the school of fish.  Animals rarely choose to be alone.  Those who were not part of the community were either picked off by predators, developed deviant behavior, became malnourished or simply died.

What if the fabric of all human existence is exactly the same?  A core of like beings who move like a flock of Starlings, who work together like Dolphins, protect each other like Elephants and who in fact truly cannot thrive without one another?  So then, what is to be said about the American Dream of the Nuclear Family as the ideal? Who came up with this idea in the first place?

Who decided that families partitioned off by fencing and personal property, who don’t interface on any regular basis is healthy?  People each in their own rooms behind closed doors, and now rarely eating at the same table or divided even further by the TV, the cell phone, computer or X-Box 360?  What if in fact the emergence of this kind of growing alienation was designed to do just that:  Create isolation and a failure to thrive for human beings?

I read the book about Anne Frank.  I was astonished that more than a dozen people could exist in one tiny space for years and survive the fear and unknowing that was part of the Nazi regime.  Then I thought:  Maybe they survived because they were together.

How many people do you know who are truly thriving?  What does that really mean anyway?  To thrive means to grow vigorously, be strong, do well and prosper. This is not about money and things, status and position.  At a deeper level to thrive means living a life that is inspired, happy, content and filled with meaning.  And at this I balk.  I hear myself say that this is not what most people are experiencing most anywhere.

A year ago I made a decision that I was not expecting.  I decided to live alone for the first time in my life.  I had had community around me in one form or another for six decades.  Family, roommates, partners, intentional community, schools and colleagues.  But, when I moved to Asheville I decided to create a life of extreme solitude and moved to the tip top of a mountain in the forest.  I called my new home  Hobbit House.  And it was.  Minus the other Hobbits.

I had the lush of nature, the silence, the extreme beauty and the precious solitude I craved.  My soul felt full of inspiration.  But, I noticed that gradually my body was changing and so was my emotional life.  I began to feel physically weak and lose muscle strength.  I felt “blue” far more than was understandable and even and inexplicable kind of nameless despair.  Keeping my center was harder and staying to task was more effortful.

And then it became clear to me that although I am no longer a baby, the Failure to Thrive is not isolated to babies, but is a truth about us as a human species.  We are meant to be connected. Physically, emotionally and spiritually.  We are meant to be together for far more than just social reasons.  We are physically meant to be with one another of “like” in order to power our immune systems and to balance our nervous system and be healthy.

But the stark truth about why we are communal beings is that our hearts depend upon it.  The heart is a battery of sorts.  It generates the largest electromagnetic field in the body.  Our brain is dwarfed by the power of the heart.  But, like solar energy panels, if you put one panel in your yard to power everything electric then you drain the panel fairly quickly.  But if you connect many solar panels together you harness and generate a huge force field.

Humans are no different.  We are a network of energy sources that when connected can produce energy for healing and increase personal potential and power.  We can create greater clarity, focus and intention.  We can move mountains.  But, to see this as a fact, we first have to understand that humans are a spiritual matrix of energy.

I think one of the reasons people all over the world felt so moved by the movie Avatar was that they recognized a truth we are all on the verge of understanding:  That when we are connected to Source and then to one another, there is unlimited power and potential.

There was a scene in Avatar at the tree of ancestors where each of the tribe first sat on the ground and then connected their tales to one another and in a heartbeat a grid of energy was illuminated.  I call this entrainment.  Entrainment is to fall into synchronization with a rhythm until the whole is calibrated to the same beat or the same frequency.  This is why there is research now on how hugging someone for more than 30 seconds results in the hearts synchronizing.  We need to entrain with other hearts to proper and to thrive.

I see a chiropractor who practices what is called Network Care, developed by Donny Epstein.  Network, being the operative descriptive.  There are four to eight patients in a room and each are attended to by the practitioner who does not manually adjust the body, but moves spinal energy.  The experience then becomes one of entrainment, where the strongest system pulls all systems to it.  Total strangers entrain in a matter of 30 minutes and all moving toward health and healing.

So, if we are all one and if we are universally connected there is a reason for this.   And we have interrupted the order of things.  I believe the reason we are all connected is to keep every living organism thriving.  But more so, I believe that the heart depends upon other hearts to open and stay open and to be the power source that it is meant to be.  When we are not heart connected, we fail to thrive.  Our battery, our generator of love and compassion and joy looses juice.  I felt that keenly in this one year alone.

And in this knowledge is a secret key to our survival as a species, to the healing of the damaged immune system of the planet and for the regeneration of love and compassion on our one home called Earth:  The key is to intentionally connect.  To tear down the fences, demolish the ticky-tacky suburbs, come out of isolation and from behind the blue screen of the TV and demand a new way of living.  We all need to take the risky leap of creating intimacy and togetherness and a life of inter-dependency, of gardening together, of cooking together, of praying and singing and dancing together.  Of pooling resources, giving things away to those who don’t have what is essential, to coming out of hiding behind technology and to really embrace life together.  To become warriors of the heart.

There is a reason that the ‘powers that be’ have systematically annihilated all indigenous people and heralded the necessity of technology and individuality.  That reason is clear and has almost been achieved: To cut all of out from the herd so that we do not thrive, do not gather, do not carry one voice for change or have power and so that we do not love.  And if we look at society at large, we see everywhere people who are like the Elk, alone and not part of a herd and family, who is either eaten by predators, alone and malnourished, or has developed deviant behavior.

But, these powers have not succeeded.  Not yet.  Not when we still can break down the barriers to each of our hearts and entrain on joy and love.  This is the power they cannot harness.  This is more powerful than money or greed or force.

So, after this year of living solitarily I have learned that I certainly can meditate more, I can write more, rest more and enjoy nature more than I have in the past.  But that is not enough.  I need hugs and laughter, I need discourse and dialogue, I need cuddles and cooking and being shoulder-to-shoulder and heart-to-heart with other people like me.

So my 2014 Resolution?

To Create a Grid of the Heart.

Toras of the heart

 

A Christmas Day Story

Christmas image

I have been off the grid for many months now.  My gypsy wagon currently hitched to a new life here in Asheville, North Carolina.  The reality of being on the road is that life unfolds in totally unexpected ways which I am now ready to chronicle.  Today is my first post since last May and it is particularly auspicious that it be on Christmas Day.  I hope you enjoy the story and that you will comment on how your day has been.

Merry Christmas, Maya


Welcome Home  
By Maya Christobel

 “To see things thousands of miles away, things hidden behind walls and within rooms, things dangerous to come to . . . to see and be amazed.” 

Life Magazine Motto

Today I was amazed.  The day did not start that way.  In fact it was shaping up to have the potential of being bleak and unnerving. It was Christmas day.

I woke up to silence.  No one clanking in the kitchen, no children giggling, just the low whirl of my air purifier and the soft purr of two of my best friends tucked neatly under my chin as I crawled out of bed in flannel wear to face Christmas morning totally by myself.  The cat lady at 63. I was feeling a bit pathetic.

I threw open my door to the patio that leads into the woods and a blast of crisp 17 degree air woke me with a startle as both cats swiftly decided not to go outside after all.  Glassy swirls of snow drifted through the trees.  I threw on my shawl, slipped into my UGGs and walked to the edge of the woods.

With all the leaves in piles, the naked trunks of a million trees allowed my eyes to see past more than one range of Blue Ridge Mountains.  I breathed deep and heard myself say, “Well this is going to be an interesting day”.

Living on the top of a mountain with no one very close and no real contact with cell phones is such is a retreat, a refuge, a place where you are creative.  The silence catapults you into the best of who you are.  But when you miss family, cooking, laughing and hugging it feels a bit more like a sentence.  I was on the fence as to how I was feeling today.

Earl Grey Tea with coconut milk, an extra pair of socks, a left-over chocolate chip pancake and I was ready to sit at the computer to write.  But, Facebook came first, since I was assured that on Christmas morning there might very well be far more substance there than usual. I tend to rant about the mundane sharing that goes on out there.  But today I was right.  Gratitude, poetry, family photos, Christmas puppies, smiling children, songs, videos and just a pile of love, littered cyberspace.  Two hours later I was full.

I had wondered what I would do without family for the holiday. Friends were away, my daughters in Colorado, my “AO music family in St. Louis”, and me, what would I like to do to celebrate the day?  A blank canvas stared at me, my paints which I dug out of storage neatly stacked next to brushes I had not used in years.  A blank Word Document sat blinking at me from my computer screen.  Oh, the pressure.

So, I did what anyone with writers block does:  I checked out when the movie I had been waiting to see for months started.  “The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty”.   It was playing at my favorite blockbuster Regal Cinema in Biltmore Park.  And it was playing at this little hole in the wall theater down the road.

I had never been inclined to go to the Beaucatcher Theaters since number one, I just hated the name, which for some reason, screamed redneck North Carolina to me and in fact I was a bit of a movie screen snob.  This translates as “the bigger the screen the better”.  But I just spontaneously decided to go to Beaucatcher.  Hmmm.

I quickly checked my emails and sent one to my daughters.  Suddenly I received one from my landlady who was vacationing in San Fran.  Renee was letting me know that the house down the hill had been broken into.  Now it would take a lot for someone to hike all the way up the mountain to break in to the house down the road.  And I am one woman living here most of the time.  This was just the corker.

I decided to turn on the stereo and play music while I was gone.  But all of a sudden I just looked around and thought to myself.  “Who gives a shit if someone wants what I have in my tiny efficiency apartment”.  So I left a note instead.  It went like this:

If you are here to rob me then the door is open, I cooked Christmas dinner for myself last night, it is in the fridge, so you are welcome to it and anything else I have is …yours.  Please just close the door behind you and do not let my cats out.  Merry Christmas

I left the door unlocked. Then I left for the movie.

I got to the tiny theater with a half dozen other souls at 11:30am.   We were all doing something that most people were not.  When I got out of the car to go inside, a family of about six people got out of the car next to me and we all walked to the ticket window.  We chatted and we wished each other merry Christmas.

I had no makeup on and had just tossed my hair under a winter hat and worn gloves, since I knew the heat would hardly have had time to warm up the theater.  The family sat in the row right in front of me and about four other people were scattered around.  The smell of popcorn felt comforting in some odd way since, in all reality, the movie theater…is my church.

The soundtrack dazzled me, the larger than life faces with piercing blue eyes, the script and the wonder of this special little movie made me laugh as loud as the family near me.  It was the medicine I needed.

It was a movie about hope.  About defying the odds, about plowing right into the middle of your worst fears and finding…yourself.  It was a movie that described my last year to a T.  I call 2013 the year of disillusionment.  In spades.

It has been a year of being cut off from the source of my own hope.  I am a woman who has made best friends with coincidence and serendipity and made a religion out of doing the unthinkable.  Up until this last year it has proven to be the only way to live, full of amazing adventures and the Universe, at every turn, confirming which path and what direction my life needed to take.  But this past year, things became, quiet.

Countless veils of illusion about human nature, the state of our planet, the music and film industry and friends who suddenly behaved like enemies, became my bill of fare. Allowing myself to see past the illusion and recoup the magic has been an unexpected and difficult journey.  I began to lose heart so I have hunkered down here in the mountains into my “chop wood, carry water” mode, knowing, hoping, that “this too shall pass”.  But Christmas alone was a real cake topper.

The movie was a Technicolor injection of love and hope that was perfect for Christmas day.  That would have been enough.  The Universe does not need to do much to help me recalibrate my heart.  But, the Universe had a special Christmas gift for me in mind.

I was the last to leave the theater.  I watched every single credit for three-legged dog trainer and hair stylist until there was nothing left.  I slipped my gloves on and pulled my hat down over my hair, my eyes red from laughing till I cried.

When I stepped out into the hall the family of six were waiting there.  Millie the mother asked me how I liked the film.  Nelson the film aficionado of the family, working as a film gaffer in NYC, asked a few questions but I really could not hear the conversation.  All I saw were these smiling faces and angel wings spring forth as a bear sized boyfriend smiling next to Millie reached to shake my hand and close friends of the family circled all around me in the hall.

Then one of those short, perfect, destined conversations ensued that went something like this. “We need to talk, come visit our new motel called Peaceful Quest Retreats”, I knew we were supposed to meet, isn’t this basically magic?”  My heart said a resounding YES!  I was missing my family so very much this day.  The Universe reminded me how large my family really was.

Who were these people?  Why did we all go to the movie at the same time?  Why didn’t I go to the poshy Biltmore Park? What is it that makes a total stranger feel instantly like a long-lost family member.  What is it in a twinkle in the eye or a caring smile that is the Universe laughing its ass off and telling you that all is well in this world?  The magic is everywhere,  purpose marches forward uninterrupted, and even if you get lost in the woods, there are always the cosmic breadcrumbs.

So, Millie Facebooked me before her Christmas dinner, I looked at photos of her magical retreat in Asheville that she purchased three years ago and said she was called to come to Asheville, just like countless people I know here.  The calling that no one can really put their finger on but each of us have just gone and moved here to find out why.

I went home filled with the wonder of it all. Wonder and awe are my elixirs in life:  The magic of destiny that keeps me going through countless disillusionments, barbaric wars and horrific loss in the world.  Millie and her lovely family was not only a B12 shot for my soul, but a personal invitation from Spirit to get back on the horse and keep riding.  Even when the future is so uncertain.  Now Millie is part of that future.  Yesterday I did not know she existed.

I got home and sat in the car for a while.  A red Cardinal that frequents my patio sat on the table.  The note for the ‘possible thief’ blew in the breeze still stuck to the door and I could hear the music I had left on inside.  Welcome home it said.

 

The Tao of Dog Part One

THE TAO OF DOG

APR 13, 2013


dogs

On Monday I woke up to a new awareness. It was very physical. My body was stiff and hurting.  I had been happily living an inspired life and “working” on taking a vision for my life’s work, for AOMusic and for children who need love and care and grounding it in reality:  The reality of manifesting my passion into a tangible form.  Manifesting my dream in concrete ways like people, money, space, investors and commitments of a substantial kind.  Manifestation somehow had stopped feeling fun and had become my work

So, once I had made my regular cup of Roobios tea, cut strawberries, bananas and oranges and then switched on my computer, the first thing that came up on the screen was my “Notes” program, which is my revolving to-do list.  The list had nearly two hundred items on it.  My eyes got instantly blurry and couldn’t focus.  I thought to myself, “low blood sugar, that’s it!”  Then I made an egg-protein drink and went back to my computer.  Still blurry.  The rest of the room was fine, the view from my window crisp and clear.  It was simply the screen of my computer, more precisely; it was simply my to-do list that I couldn’t get into focus.

It was apparent that I was ‘not seeing something’, literally.  So, off I went to meditate and tune into the metaphor. I posed the question, “What had become blurry for me in my work and what was I not seeing?”

Once I am willing to ask a hard question like this and then be open to an answer, I get the answer, instantly.  The voice I trust with my own life said, “Are you feeling inspired about your to-do list?”  “No, I’m feeling inspired by the vision, the dream and the creativity!” I said.  “So then, is the feeling you have about your inspired vision the same feeling you have when you look at your to-do list?”   Right then and there I knew that something was off since my answer was, “No.”  I was not in alignment within myself.

I had lost ‘sight’ of the miraculous feeling that comes when I am aligned with a vision that perfectly matches my heart, my mind and my purpose.  So, how was I supposed to feel those same feelings when I face a to-do list that needs a staff of twelve to get done in a timely way?  I knew enough about the laws of manifestation to understand that there can be no “vibrational gap” between the excitement and feeling of awe I have when I am living inside my own dream and the feelings I have when I face twenty emails waiting to be answered, or endless research to be done. Closing this gap is my spiritual practice.

I feel the high frequency emotions of love, gratitude, enthusiasm, joy and inspiration the minute I hear an AOMusic song, see the face of one child we work toward helping, talk to a producer about the endless possibilities for film or start seeing money coming into our AO Foundation International.  But, when I pick up the phone, start to plow through the avalanche of emails, Skype for the sixth hour in a row or just try to get the bills paid and then feel exhausted, resentful, stressed, anxious or fearful, well you see what the problem is?  The two energies cancel each other out, they are not in alignment.  Houston, we have a problem.

Who in their right mind finds joy in the mundane steps up to the top of the mountain?  That is not entirely the question.  The question is more of how to in fact do what feels nearly impossible to sustain the joy and creative edge even when facing more no’s in a day than yeses, more hours at the computer than playing outside, more money going out than coming in?

So, I set out to learn how to close the gap in my vibrational reality and start to put things into focus.  I set out to make sure that how I was be-ing and what I was do-ing were entirely congruent.

Just when I realized I had some quantum ‘waking up’ to do, I was invited to house sit for a friend going to Bali.  She had a house that screams Tuscany overlooking the water here in the Pacific Northwest.  The spacious rural bungalow is also the home of three amazing dogs: Logan, Rex and Angel Baby, a white Pit Bull.  I said yes, and for one week had the sanctuary and quiet I needed to sink into these questions.

Then I did dog therapy (or more accurately, the dogs did me), which in fact became the source of my coming to the answers I needed.  In short, a dog lives in the moment and there is not one incongruity, just being present fully, joyfully, expectantly present, with no expectations except that when you throw the ball, they get to retrieve it.  They do not toil to fill their dog bowl but they know with all certainty that the bowl will be filled right at 4pm.  They never doubt it for a second.

The other blessing being here in the Washington, which made my time unbelievably rich and clear, was that it rained every single day when I was on my Tuscan retreat.  I could not distract myself from the question of ‘alignment’ at hand.  And, at the end of five days of inquiry, there was one remarkable answer to the question of how to align my deepest most soulful vision with the mundane work that I believed I needed to do to manifest it.  The surprising answer was: Be Lazy.

Lazy is a word that carries terrible connotations with it.  And mostly because we are a culture that prizes productivity and over-responsibility as we are constantly comparing one person to another on those standards.  Being a ‘slacker’ is how most people regard being lazy.  Yet, the heart of being lazy is simply not to be inclined to work or exert energy.  Bingo.  Exerting energy was what I was all about when I approached my responsibilities and endless tasks that I had deemed necessary for achieving success.  And of course if I did not “exert” myself how would they get done and where would my dream be then?

Exertion and work are the opposite of allowing and flow.  My dream of helping children around the world who need love and care at the most fundamental level and creating new vehicles for AOMusic to touch the hearts of people is never anything but flow for me.  Allowing the dream to unfold like a flower should be easy.  You would never put energy into forcing a flower to bloom at any other speed than its own natural rhythm and flow.

It was clear that when I approached my list of mundane tasks I was not allowing for the same energy to permeate the process and bring both joy and excitement to every phone call.  I was not allowing the process of “Do-ing” to become “Be-ing in the flow with each task”.  Allowing the task to present a fun aspect, an unexpected outcome and a great satisfaction, even if I did not accomplish my goal that day.

I watched my three canine companions make no effort at all in a day except to simply be happy and in their own true nature.  They slept when they felt like it and if they were needed for something they brought their own happy selves to the project.  They knew the nature of being happy, they rested in between exercise, they greeted me every morning as if it was the happiest moment of their lives and the very first time they had seen my face or watched the sun come up.  I had something to learn watching them and Be-ing with them.

I learned that it is essential to take care of myself first and foremost.  That if I deeply care about the wellbeing of others or mass consciousness I must tend to the wellbeing of my “self” in order to advocate for anyone else.  You cannot assist anything you are not already feeling in yourself.  If you want to be advantage to others you need to be an advantage to yourself.  I am never an advantage to myself or anyone else when I allow the feelings of over work, stress, anxiety or fear to be part of any moment.

So, being lazy means to relax and feel into my life at that moment, create a process of pleasure with my “work” and to not exert energy to make any one thing happen.  Exertion suggests that I believe that I am the only one to do what is needed.  Now that flies in the face of our American work ethic doesn’t it?  Especially when we have such a flawed premise in our society which says “the more you DO the more you are WORTH.”  What this new perspective says is “the better you feel, the more you allow” and the more you allow the better the outcome.  This is a powerful and clear intent:  Allowing instead of efforting.

Being lazy means to give myself permission to allow the law of manifestation to fill in the grid of my dream and vision with all the things that my over-efforting can squeeze out, like coincidence, serendipity, spirit, destiny, new people wanting to help, opportunities and simply, the unknown.  Then to make room for the Universal truth of manifestation to take root.  To have a high vibrational frequency that, like a magnet, will attract what you desire.

So, here is what I learned and I am passing it on with delight.  I call these the Six Steps to Being Lazy.  You might do these every day, to start your day or end your day before you go to sleep or better yet, both.

1.  Remember the vibrational alignment you want to achieve between your dream and your daily work. If you are clear that joy, love, adventure or being on your creative edge is what your dream is truly about then be clear that these are the experiences and ultimately the feelings and emotions you desire and deserve in the work you do toward achieving your vision

2.  Meditate at least 15 minutes a day to empty your busy mind and invite these feelings of joy and love to fill you.  Meditation opens the door to allowing.

3.  Go outside no matter the weather, pay attention and find things to acknowledge with gratitude.  AND do this out loud.  On your walk, in your garden or as the wind is howling and rain is on it’s way, notice what is all around you and acknowledge everything that touches you:  “You are my favorite flower, you are the most beautiful bird, you are the most exciting sky, and you are my favorite tree, my most treasured vegetable in the garden, the most beautiful chicken, frog, dragonfly or next door neighbor.”  If you are walking your dog, speak with him or her about how you love and appreciate them, their beauty and their sacrifice in life to love you and only you.  As you speak this gratitude and appreciation out loud you are completely rebooting your energy and raising both the vibrational frequency of you and everything around you.  You are making your own heart-music in the world.

4.  Buy a notebook for your “Positive Attributes”.  Make five different subjects and write all the positive aspects of them:  Relationships, my dream, my children, my body, my friends, my love life, my talents and gifts.  Find five themes or subjects in your life that are very meaningful to you and then list all the positive attributesyou can think of to say about your love life, your body or your talents.  Fill the page.  And then re-read and add to it daily.  This Self-Appreciation and Self Love will completely rewire your cells.

5.  Look upward and outward.  Go outside or stand at a window and acknowledge that there are “universal forces” that are focused right at you.  Consciously acknowledge that you are the object of their positive attention.  Say out loud:   “I am grateful and I will be in conscious awareness that you too are right here with me, assisting, inspiring, guiding, having fun with me, supporting me, helping me, loving me, showing me, caring for me, surprising me and say it over and over again.  Get into an endless loop of this Universal acknowledgement.

6.  Hug the world.  A friend of mine pointed out that it is important to hug for thirty seconds or more, with eight or more people every day.  Now this is a challenge in our touch phobic society.  But, the heart as the largest electromagnetic field in the body can entrain with another heart when hugging, which then can create greater health, a more vibrant immune system, the feelings of love and the feeling of safety  and belonging.

What we forget in our lives, on this one planet, is that all that we want for others and for ourselves already exists.  The only thing we truly have to DO is allow for it all to manifest and to relax all of our efforting, our reactivity, our fear and our contraction and simply let all our desires flow to us, at a rate that will astonish you.  So let’s all get really, really lazy.   Woof!

And stay tune for part two on the Tao of Dog.

 

 

Music Opens the Heart

As a producer and partner with AOMusic, if you have not heard me say that “The Music of AO has changed my life“, I want to say it now.  I have never encountered a medium that is both heart opening and able to change the lives of children in need at the same time.  I am from the 60′s.  The Vietnam war was my backdrop for life.  The Beatles came and changed all of us and the way we saw the world.  U2  opened our eyes to injustice and issues of freedom, Madonna busted the sexual revolution wide open.  Music changes people.  Music can also save lives and create hope and love where there has been none.

Hokulea album cover

I am putting my time, energy and money behind a dream that is AO Music.  We have raised nearly $40,000  to release our new album and to travel to record the children of Nepal who you will hear on the new album ‘Hokulea’, about to be released this week.  But, we need your help to promote the album around the world so that the true vision of philanthropy can be realized.
“It is in the giving that we receive”.  This is proven to me daily.
AO has been considered for the Grammys two years in a row, and won album of the year for “And Love Rages On”.   Our new Album will certainly help brand the music, win a grammy and then make assisting children all over the world with food, schools, love and kindness.
WHAT CAN YOU DO?
I am personally asking for your help in two ways.  One:  Please hear the music, see the children, get to know our musicians by going to our websites, www.aomusic.com and www.arcturiangate.com and then donate to our non-profit or buy albums and give them to everyone you love and know.  Every dollar from the album ends up helping children in need.
And the most important thing you can do is send this post to at least 10 people with a lead in sentence from you saying “you support AO”.  We depend on word of mouth.  Please take just 10 minutes of your time to send this to 10 people.  We would be so grateful for your support in this way.  If 1000 of you sent out ten emails of love and then everyone of those emails gave $5, the cost of a Triple Vente Latte from Starbucks, then $50,000 would send this music around the world, help toward supporting the very children who sing on our albums, and bring joy to each and every person involved.
On our websites there are amazing perks for donating.  Check them out.  And, for any of you who donate $100 or buys $100 dollars worth of albums to support the vision, I will personally send you a copy of the book I co-authored with Deepak Chopra, Roadmap to Success which you will find on my website, www.mayalunachristobel.com.  I believe in this vision that much!  Just a push of a button can have you participate in helping make our world a better place.
And, I am not a fundraiser.  I am impassioned about something dear to my heart and sharing this amazing opportunity with you. Join the growing AO Family!  It takes a village!
Blessings, Maya Christobel
Inline image 7    Kids  Nepal girls on Bench  child45
Jessie children 1

An Opportunity to Love

Heart map

I am a storyteller. And I have been listening to thousands of unique, heartbreaking and passionate love stories for the past thirty years as a psychologist. But, I have had one amazing experience that has progressively unfolded for the past ten years to teach me a life long lesson about love and manifestation. It is a story that was writing itself, unbeknownst to me. I was simply excited by life and feeling love and joy and all the while the Universe was conspiring to make me happier and bring people into my life that I had never met, experiences that I would never have thought to conjure and work that I had no idea could fulfill me. Manifestation is not about doing, it about allowing. Love is not about getting, it is about giving. This is the core of the law of attraction that I learned in a mysterious and magical encounter that changed my life.

In 1999 I took a sabbatical after more than twenty years in private practice. I decided to accept a job for a year as an in-­‐house personal assistant and chef for the CEO of what was then the MBNA Credit Corporation. Weekends were spent preparing for lavish corporate dinner parties and cooking, the rambling house empty till the guests arrived. The professional kitchen had a state of the art sound system and limitless CD’s, so I wandered my way through a smorgasbord of new music while cooking pork loin stuffed with dates, for twenty.

One of the albums I found there was ‘Adiemus’, by Karl Jenkins, which went on to be a multi-­‐ platinum smash. It was on repeat for hours in a day, me singing to the top of my lungs while chopping scallions, choosing the right wine and making sure that the flowers got there on time.

I played this world music constantly and was full of appreciation for what I thought was a unique choir of women from multiple nationalities. For the next ten years I frequently flirted with the hope of meeting or hearing this remarkable group of women, who went on to make several more albums. Then, I lost the CD that I had bought to listen to in the car. It got misplaced in a dozen moves.

Fast forward. It is now 2011. I am standing over a tiny duffle bag from REI, trying to pack what anyone would need if they were going to Africa. I had done exhaustive research on South Africa: light weight breathable pants, big brimmed hat, organic bug spray, esoteric remedies for Malaria, a Canon 50D camera, all squished into a bag I would typically take on an overnight to Boston. I was ready for two weeks at the White Lion Protection Trust in Timbavati, South Africa with Linda Tucker. These animals were considered to be “the children of the stars”.

livinglegends

I loaded the music I love onto my iPod. But, I felt something was missing and so I ordered a replacement ‘Adiemus’ CD and when it came I put all the music on my playlist along with Michael Jackson and Deva Premal. I was ready to take the leap into the unknown and do something that terrified me. I had been to forty-­‐nine states, three continents and thirteen countries, but I never imagined going to Africa. Africa scared me. But, I was powerfully drawn to see the majestic White Lions there and one week later I was sitting in their midst and meditating on their message to the human race which was clear and simple: Unconditional love is why humans are here. I was changed forever in these two magical and challenging weeks.

In Africa I was with a group I had never met and on an ancient continent I’d never thought I’d visit. Days were full of Lions, Baboons, Wildebeest, shamanism, getting to know Africa and her royal status on our planet. Nights were…sleepless. Some part of me knew I didn’t want to miss one minute. I would always start the night under my mosquito netting, but in no time, I would put my sandals on, grab my iPod, slip out of the Rondoval, and head out into the warm night through a fire-­‐lit camp to hear the sounds of thundering roars along the electrified perimeter and be awash in the early morning cacophony of countless tropical birds.

Somewhere in the night I would stop my walking meditation and find a place to sit, and while surrounded by Geckos, I would listen over and over to ‘Adiemus’, and the women who spoke to me through its music. They were tribal. They felt totally in keeping with the soul of Africa…in keeping with my soul. I was at home in Africa and in myself. Africa became the most important trip I had ever allowed myself to take and as the plane took off from Johannesburg to fly back to the states, I sobbed.

I came back disoriented. I had been taking care of my mother for three years, and returning home my life felt…small, like a shoe that no longer fit. Two months later my mother died, and four months after that I knew it was time for me to move on. I closed my psychology practice, sold what I owned and headed out to manifest the newest incarnation of myself living a gypsy life on the open road. I first headed to North Carolina for a short visit with my daughter, with no specific destination planned afterwards. But the minute I unpacked my suitcase for a week, let my two cats our of their cat carrier, the Universe had a chuckle.

Remember that not getting what you want is sometimes a wonderful stroke of luck. The Dalai Lama

As luck or fate would have it, my driver’s license needed to be renewed, and I immediately ran into a glitch with the Social Security Administration. I had changed my name in 2001, and an administrative typo resulted in my name at the DMV not matching my name at Social Security – and Homeland Security didn’t like that. My gypsy notions were brought to a standstill while I worked to get myself legally back on the road. But after repeated attempts, even seasoned lawyers couldn’t get any government agency to fix it. My wings were clipped. I was grounded in Asheville indefinitely. My plan for living a Gyspy life on the open road for a year to discover what made me truly happy, were cancelled by bureaucracy. As they say, “if you want to make god laugh, tell him your plans”.

With time to spare, this reinventing myself obviously needed a new twist. I decided to create a website while working on my drivers license and posted a position for a graphics designer on Craigslist. I made a time to meet at The Dobra Tea Room with the one person out of forty-­‐six that had inspired me. Mary arrived at noon for Masala Tea served in a red terra cotta teapot. We shared little gluten free almond cookies and by 1pm I had hired her to do everything I needed.

It was a match made in heaven. I looked at my watch and realized my second appointment with someone I had found as a music consultant who might help me with music on my website was about to walk through the door. I had to break the news to him that Mary was going to do that part as well and he was not needed, thank you.

Richard Gannaway walked in wearing a navy blue baseball cap that I would come to see as a trademark look for him. He was carrying a well‐used computer case and his broad smile lit the room. I already felt badly to tell him he had come all this way for nothing.

Lauaghing Richard

Four hours later we had not even talked about my website music needs. When I found out what his work in the world was, we plummeted into one of those timeless places where people who have a palpable soul connection go so easily. That feeling of, “Oh there you are, I’ve been waiting for you.”

Richard had been a professional musician for over thirty years and was the founder of the world music group called AOMusic, who records the joyful voices of children around the world living in dire circumstances. It was highly unusual that someone who had been on the Grammy ballot two years in a row would have taken my call or the time to come and meet a non-­‐musician like me, but here he was, as surprised as I was. And, then it was 5:30 and we had plowed through two plates of hummus on cucumber slices while trying the most exotic teas on the menu and talking about a global shift in consciousness and the Golden Mean.

AO small logo

As I was packing up to leave, Richard slid his newest AO album, And Love Rages On, across the table. We intended to meet again once I had heard his music and then hugged goodbye. I left grateful to the Universe for bringing such amazing people into my life, simply because I was stranded in Asheville and had a wild and crazy idea that I acted on. Little did I know how much gratitude would be called for.

It was lightly raining as I drove the back roads of the Blue Ridge Parkway, out of site of police, just in case I needed to present a drivers license for any reason. I popped in the CD that Richard gave me. Five minutes later I pulled off the road and sat for an hour with the rain, like percussive drumming in the background. Through the windshield, as the wipers swooshed to the rhythm of the music, I watched two young deer graze next to the car as if they were eavesdropping. Once my tears were over and the album finished, I turned the car around and drove to find Richard. My heart had blown open without my permission.

By the end of our second conversation I had volunteered to help make sure the next album would receive a well-­‐deserved Grammy and to fundraise for AO Foundation International. I knew nothing about the music business or fundraising for that matter, but I was ready to learn. I also had no idea what I was creating for myself as I fell into the music in such bliss that it was a no brainer to simply say ‘yes’ to some unknown future, working for a music label and for the children of AO who opened my heart. My life and direction had changed in a nanosecond.

Now this is where it gets interesting. What happened next confirmed that we all live in a vast and mysterious Universe, with perfect design. Yet most of us live so close to the tapestry of our lives that we are only focused on a few threads right in front of us and we never seeing the full design.

My ‘destiny’ had been weaving a tapestry for me from my own heart’s desires for nearly a decade. A few days later, Richard and I met again to talk about the music. I learned how it was created, about the universal language that was constructed and about the principle players Jay Oliver on keyboards and Miriam Stockley, vocalist. When I asked Richard who Miriam Stockley was, he said, “Miriam is the voice of Adiemus”.

The voice?
The one voice?

Adiemus?
“Yes”, he said, “she is from Johannesburg, South Africa”.

As it turns out, what I thought was the women’s choir on the album was just one incredible woman who had recorded multiple tracks. She was now the principle singer on the last two albums for AOMusic. Miriam now co-­‐composes with Richard and lives in Florida, involved in projects with her husband Rod. “I think you and I need to go to Florida, Maya, and meet Miriam in her Studio!” he smiled.

Miriam-Profile-picture

My heart could not even grasp what had just happened. From the kitchen of a banking mogul in Maine where I first heard some anonymous woman and where I was deeply inspired by the music, to the mountains of Asheville, North Carolina, where I stumbled on my destiny that had started to manifest a decade earlier, I was at the epicenter of my life not knowing concretely how I had even arrived there. My inspiration had physically manifested without my DO‐ing anything.

Now, a year and half later, I am partners with Richard and AOMusic, executive producer of Arcturian Gate Films and working on a feature documentary. We have established AO Foundation International as a 501C3 non-­‐profit that highlights and aids children in crisis. I just returned from Florida as a part of finishing the mixing of the newest AO album, “Hokulea” in Miriam Stockley’s studio. I sat on the black leather couch in this futuristic engineering studio, her toy dog Minky on her lap, watching her husband Rod masterfully mix the current album and then had days of bliss witnessing the team create the most transformative sound I have ever heard.

I remembered the nights in Africa with Miriam’s voice in my ear as I breathed in an entire continent. I used to think to myself often, “What I would give to sing like her, to meet her”. The Universe heard me ten years ago and led me to my inspiration. Manifested my desire. All I had to do was feel the inspiration, the hope, the love, the vision and Spirit handed me all I hoped for and more on a silver platter. And it just keeps coming. The love keeps coming. The inspiration keeps coming and the joy keeps flooding in.

Since the beginning of what is becoming my life’s work, it has been the children of AO who have captured my heart and given me a global vision for changing the world through music, through charity and for inspiring countless people to live their own dream. Sometimes we don’t even know what the dream will lead to, we simply have to move our feet in the right direction. And I am not a trained fundraiser but I have a story to tell, I have music and vision and real life stories to share, which can lead to manifesting everything that the vision needs and create opportunity for children who have none.

Many of us love parts of life passionately, yet we never create the opportunity to make those passions our inspired work in the world. We do what we have to or what our families expect and then put dreams that are driven by the heart on the shelf. Many of us are impassioned by our love for animals and want to fight for animal rights, children’s rights, our oceans, the dolphin, the whale, civil rights and our environment. By allowing the universe to lead me to it, I found that my motivating passion is to work for those who have very little opportunity to be loved and to feel safe, yet who possess a depth of spiritual awareness and a loving kindness and joy that defies my comprehension. They are the children of our planet.

Richard has for years been traveling the world to remote areas which suffer from natural disaster, poverty and alienation where he finds groups of children, teaches them his songs, and then records them singing with him. He then weaves their voices into the structure of his music to create AO’s signature sound. The proceeds from these songs go back to the children and their villages to put shoes on their feet and to provide food, shelter, schooling and love.

ao girl

The AO vision is to create a beautiful harmony between those who have resources and those who do not, to create a unity of heart and cause, money and magic. AO is crafting a beautiful new paradigm for music creation fueled by love and built upon a participatory process that synthesizes personal inspiration and creativity with the pure and joyful spirit of children in a way that uplifts and empowers those who are powerless.

When I met Richard, he had been traveling to these areas around the world and recording the voices of children for over a decade, yet no one had professionally filmed him and the children in this beautiful creative process. Recognizing the need and value of doing this, I joined with Richard and AO to include a film team on the latest trip to record singing children in Nepal. Invitations have now been received by AOMusic to do this in other equally inspiring locations, and our excitement is building toward a feature documentary. We are invited to record children in camps from the Fukushima Nuclear disaster, the refugee children still homeless after the 2008 Tsunami, children homeless after the earthquake in Haiti and countless others who have a voice to share and are living in Siberia, Italy and the foot of the Himalayas.

I want to conclude this telling of my own love story with two short accounts of the Children of AO that etched themselves into my soul and are exemplary of why I do what I do, fourteen hours a day, seven days a week. You will be changed by reading them.

AO means “light” in Polynesian and these are the children of the light.

A Love Story from Johannesburg, South Africa:

It is not unusual for the bush mothers in the squatter villages around Johannesburg to have to leave their newborns by the side of the road. Families are too large with not enough food. Young girls have been raped with no means of caring for a child. Mothers die from malnutrition and fathers are overwhelmed. It happens all the time. A mother or an aunt or maybe a sister will come in the night and leave newborns at the crossroads for someone to find and hopefully take to an orphanage or bring the child into their own home. That is the hope. It doesn’t always happen.

A little newborn baby girl was left in the night on the side of the road in a basket. Imagine in Africa, in the bush, a baby crying in the darkness. But, this night, a stranger did not pick the little new born up. No one heard her cries and came for her. Except for a pack of wild dogs.

The next morning the child was found having been fed on by the Dingos in the night, but she was alive. She was taken to the hospital and survived the terror of an experience I cannot imagine. This little girl grew up in an orphanage and in 2010 Richard went to this orphanage in South Africa to meet the children and record music with them. He met this little spark of life. This little baby was now eleven and the orphanage was her home. She was academically excelled, a wonderful artist and the light to everyone there. When Richard met her she had a partially amputated arm and leg from that fateful night.

Her brutal beginning never compromised her love for life and her obvious joy. She and children like her are at the heart of why I do what I do with AO. Why I am committed to bring love back into the lives of children who need AO, who need my help, who need both you and me. A Love

Story from Philippines

When AO went to the outskirts of Manila there were countless children and their families living on waste heaps that go on for miles. Consider the enormous waste dumps you have driven past in your life surrounded by stench and birds picking through someone else’s garbage and food. This is home for too many children all over the world. These heaps of trash and refuse are often the only source of finding food or revenue, as children pick through the debris hoping to find some item that they might sell or use.

The waste heaps are two or three stories tall and infested with tens of thousands of large rats. At times, herds of rats actually stampede and the children have to hide from their path, risking disease and being bitten. These children were living in toxic waste, carrying ragged plastic dolls that they had found, a broken toy that someone had thrown away and they lived in filth and squalor. Yet, Richard watched them play with each other as they created games with what they had found in their immense world of human refuse. Joy was somehow far more present than despair for children living in conditions that any one of us would consider unthinkable.

For those of us in AO, our constant and always-­‐inspiring experience is of the resiliency of children who are orphaned and traumatized by earthquakes, tsunamis and war, of their unbeatable spirit and joy. They are what AO is about. As we turn the corner from 2012, humanity embarks upon our single most historical moment and begins to consciously feel and understand that we are all…connected, that our work with and for children is the first agenda. It is a global responsibility and a personal imperative.

As for me, I have changed my life, cleaned out the closets of my own resistance, and sold everything I own, in order to live this journey of unconditional love. And when I meet children like these, it is an easy choice. I jumped over the cliff and have never looked down. Joy is my safety net. I am aware that most of us either cannot or will not wake up one morning and take a hard left turn off the road they are on now and never look back. Yet, as the wealthiest country in the world, we have excess that can be shared, with those who desperately need some help: Time, money, love, things. What I spend on coffee for a month is more than most children will see in their childhood. We each have much of what they need, and our average monthly income is more than they will see in a lifetime.

Love without action is incomplete. So many of us have baskets full of love to offer freely – whether we know it or not.

Both of these stories are followed by countless others. And there are millions of stories going untold, children going unseen, lives ending before they begin. And there are also countless stories of people around the world like you or me, who feel uninspired, doing a job they hate, feeling alone, lost in the television or feeling isolated. And many of us are simply afraid to change the lives we have. But, we need each other! Those that have so much need those who have so little. And like the little girl who was fed upon by wild dogs, the triumph of the spirit is a spiritual energy that can create miracles for anyone who is willing to open their hearts and arms to the world around them.

Jessie children 1

The stories of these children are my call to move into action. We each have a chance every second of each day to answer our own calling. We each have a chance to jump right into the center of what we are passionate about and bring our own light to the world, perhaps to experience the light of children, the joy of giving and to make a difference in at least one person’s life. There is never any risk when we give…only more and more possibilities for love.

Katherine Hepburn is my Hero. She said, “Love has nothing to do with what you are expecting to get, but what you are expecting to give”. It took me quite a long time to find that the giving of love was far more important and joyful than being loved. And, I have found it in the children and mission of AO.

This is my life. This is my life’s work. This is my love story.

Hugging the world

 


henna hands Nepal

“The minute I heard my first love story, I started looking for you, not knowing how blind that was. Lovers don’t finally meet somewhere, they’re in each other all along”. Rumi

Love has many faces. I think there are nine faces of love. Love for the beloved, your lover or spouse. Love for your precious child. Love for a special pet that is an essential part of your life. Love for family, for a mother and a father, a sibling and home. Love for a friend. Love for God. Love of Self. The Universal love of life itself and the world we live in. And then there is unconditional love, which can be part of every one of our love stories, and when present, transforms love into something far more spiritual and far less personal. Unconditional love is all about giving.

If you think about these nine faces of love and feel into the nature of those love stories, you can feel that each love is slightly different. The love of a child feels very different or at least should, from the love of a spouse or lover. The love of God feels decidedly different than the love of our pet, who brings joy to our lives. Love is vast and has so many colors and forms that there is no end to discovering the territory of the heart. And without an open heart, there is no love.

We each have a love story. Or many love stories. I have had the privilege of loving often, loving deeply and loving without borders. I have had three husbands, two daughters, countless people who have sought out my advice and are now part of my heart for life. I have had family, friends, teachers, gurus, dogs, cats, horses to love. Some of these relationships gave me ample opportunity to learn about love and forgiveness, about letting go and taught me the difference between love and possession. And my experience of unconditional love usually was born from having so much heartbreak, that my capacity for loving grew exponentially.

Katherine Hepburn is my Hero. She said, “Love has nothing to do with what you are expecting to get, but what you are expecting to give”. It took me quite a long time to find that the giving of love was far more important and joyful than being loved. That is a big statement for me to make in a culture that is all about being loved and getting love. But, the distinction makes all the difference to the quality of true happiness.

Last year I had the opportunity to open my heart just a little wider and let in the world. It was not a choice. It was an unexpected moment when my heart was blown open by a new experience of love. Most of my love affairs have been with a person. Sometimes my love has been far more universal, but this past year I fell in love with the world around me. I fell deeply in love with the children of our planet, the people who are just like me but who have very little opportunity to be loved, yet who possess a depth of spiritual awareness, loving kindness and joy that defies my comprehension.

I fell headlong into this central love story for my life when I heard the voices of AOMusic. And then I felt the beauty of their vision for creating unity between those

who have resources and those who do not, creating connection of heart and cause, money and magic, and I was encouraged to participate in a process of personally embracing my own power, in order to encourage more power for those who are powerless.

Children are such a gift and they are the seeds of our future and possess the innate spark of ‘source’. Each child is a walking love story. So, I would like to share a few stories with you that touched me, generated a life long commitment to partner with AOMusic and Richard Gannaway, its founder, who endeavors to marry music with charity and to write songs that change our own cellular nature. Music wakes the heart and the children of AO bring each and every one of us closer to the source of who we are.

Richard has been traveling the world to remote areas, which suffer from natural disaster, poverty and alienation. He has been recording children in these areas for over a decade. He finds groups of children who learn one of his songs and then sing with Richard, who then records them for becoming the voices at the center of the music. Then the financial profits from these songs go back to the children and their villages. Here are some of the children of AO and their amazing stories.

A Love Story from Johannesburg, South Africa:

It is not unusual for the bush mothers in the squatter villages around Johannesburg to leave their newborns by the side of the road. They are from families who are too large with not enough food. They are young girls who have been raped with no means of caring for a child. Mothers die from malnutrition and fathers are overwhelmed. It happens all the time. A mother, an aunt or a sister will come in the night and leave newborns at the crossroads for someone to find and hopefully bring the baby to an orphanage or take the child into their own homes. That is the hope. It does not always happen.

A little newborn baby girl was left in the night on the side of the road in a basket. Imagine in Africa, in the bush, a baby crying in the darkness. But, this night, a stranger did not pick the little new born up. No one came for her, or heard her cries. Except for a pack of wild dogs.

The next morning the child was found having been fed on by the Dingos in the night, but she was alive. She was taken to the hospital and survived the terror of an experience I cannot imagine. This little girl grew up in an orphanage and in 2010, Richard went to this orphanage in South Africa to meet the children and record music with them. This one little girl stepped forward and her voice was clear and true and her love and joy for life, bright and blazing. This tiny baby left for the dogs was now eleven years old and had one nearly fully amputated arm and one amputated leg from that fateful night.

Her love for life, the joy in her voice was never fully compromised by her brutal beginning. The offering of her light and her voice rang out in the And Love Rages On Album. And she and children all over our planet just like her are at the heart of why

I do what I do with AO. Why I am committed to bring love into the lives of children who need AO, who need our help, who need both you and me. And as Katherine Hepburn said, “love is in the giving”.

A Love Story from Indonesia

AO had an opportunity to record children in Indonesia. There are several Youtube videos of these amazing children as part of stunning songs from AOMusic. But, in this story, more unthinkable experiences for Americans like me, went straight into my heart.

While in Indonesia, Richard was on an island where he met a family on a hillside living in a lean to. This little family was selling crafts, coconuts and mangos in order to feed their family. Their house was a piece of corrugated metal with sticks to hold it up and on a steep volcanic hillside. Numerous families were dispersed in the jungle just like this family, exposed to the elements and making ends meet the only way they could.

There was no TV, or Internet, there were no toys from Toys R Us. The lives of each family member had a singular focus: Survival. And yet the children were the happy children, laughing and playing. The adults were the salt of the earth, generous and giving.

And in Indonesia there were countless children without families living on waste heaps that went on for miles out side the city. These heaps of trash and refuse were two or three stories tall and infested with giant rats. There where herds of rats that would run and stampede and the children would have to hide from the stampedes. These children were living in toxic waste but at sunset Richard would watch them playing with each other and creating games with what they had found that day among the garbage.

A Love Story from Malaysia

In Malaysia, off the tip of another volcanic island, countless five and six year old children were armed with machetes that were taller than they were. Every day these children would hike up the volcanic mountain with their giant machetes and they would pull coconuts off the trees, while welding these massive swords. Then they would sell the coconut juice for money or food. These bands of children lived on the hillside and in the tropical jungle having only a donkey to get them up to the rim of the volcano.

Our constant and never changing experience is of the resilient children who have lived through earthquakes, tsunamis, war, and genocide, orphaned and alone. Their unbeatable spirit and strong hearts, is what AO is about. AO is Polynesian for, Light. These children possess the light even after the unthinkable.

As our planet embarks on our single most historical moment and begins to consciously feel and understand that we are all…connected, our work with and for

children of the light is a monumental need. AOMusic is dedicated to that need and answering the call for responsible action in every way we can. And as for me, I have changed my life, cleaned out the closets of my own resistance, sold everything I own and done so in order to live this journey of unconditional love. And when I meet children like these, it is an easy choice. Because in the end I am the one who is given the gift of love.

And, like in every other remote part of the world, these children that live hand to mouth, possess a kind of joy that stops you in your tracks and allows for the possibility that your heart will expand with love and caring and then move you swiftly into action. Love without action is incomplete. And as just one person I have much of what they need. I have time. I have extra money, I have motivation and baskets full of love to freely offer. What I receive in return is priceless.

Each of these stories are followed by countless others. And there are millions of stories going untold, children going unseen, lives ending before they begin. And there are also countless stories of people around the world who feel uninspired, have resources they could share, are doing a job they hate, feeling alone, lost in the television or isolated. There are people everywhere needing meaning in their lives. We need each other. And like the little girl who was attacked by wild dogs, the triumph of her spirit is a spiritual energy that can create miracles for anyone who is willing to open their eyes and arms to the world around them.

The stories of these children are a call for me to move into action. The way I get to ‘unconditionally love’ is to simply be fully present to the feelings I have when I look into their eyes. To really listen when I hear their voices singing on an AO album, feel the joy every time a donation to AO Foundation International comes in and I know which child will get shoes because of it, what little boy or girl in Kathmandu might get an education, or see shelter be put up after the next earthquake or tsunami to get children off the street and away from sex trafficking predators. I simply get countless chances to love…unconditionally. And unconditional love is the single most untapped resource we have on this planet.

This is my life. This is my life’s work. This is my love story.

Johannesberg children  Children Playing with Dolls on Trash Heap

african-slum1 child on trash heap