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.

 

 

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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

 

A Year of Being a Gypsy

gypsy wagonand horse

One year and three months and I’m not off the road yet and still have no driver’s license.  But, more on that later you won’t believe it.  Let’s see. Oklahoma, North Carolina, Denver, Seattle, Point Roberts, Los Angeles, Orlando, New York City, Boston, the Bahama’s and Canada, then all over again. Coast to Coast, 1, 2, 3 times and counting.

As a gypsy, I have traveled to the most amazing places thus far.  I have been on all the major highways: I-40, I-70, I-80 and I-95.  Route 101 up the California coast, I-5 that was unbearably bleak and down historic Route 66.  The Grand Tetons, the Rockies, Mt. Rainier, Zion, Canyonlands, the Pacific Ocean, Atlantic Ocean, swimming with Dolphins and schmoozing in Beverly Hills. Sun worshipping on Daytona Beach and hanging with soaring eagles on the Canadian Border watching for Orcas. I have slept on blow up beds, several squishy couches, the hard floor, futons, sleep by number beds ( I can never make up my mind.  Am I a 35 or a 70?).  Then there were boat cushions, the back seat of the car and a dog bed the size of a Great Dane.  I have yet to camp.  Just give it time.

I determined to take a year to discover what made me happy.  I sold most everything and decided to follow the flow that would reveal a deeper layer of who I am and help me discover more of what inspires me. I took the culmination of 2012 seriously.  If the paradigm for our planet was shifting, if old structures that no longer worked were falling away and new consciousness was emerging, then I would start living those truths first of all…in myself.  I would fall headlong into being a single woman in the world; invite the Universe to show me what I needed to know and how to express love, compassion and generosity in the world.  The year went nothing like I had planned. The phrase, “If you want to make god laugh, just tell him your plans” became all too real.

Yet, I achieved all I had hoped for and more, in the face of thwarted plans and with no plans at all.  The freedom of driving with the Kenny Loggins blaring in my car and no one to criticize my choice in music was replaced by needing to be chauffeured by my daughter with her music playing and Mumford and Son’s blaring.  I wanted to listen to hours of inspirational CD’s while I drove carefree.   No way…it was Florence and the Machine.

I had thought that in one year I would find a clearer and more inspired definition of my work in the world.  Then I would settle somewhere and begin to craft new work in the world and finish writing my book.  In just one month to the day after hitting the road, the Universe reached down, plugged me into my destiny when I was not looking, packed my bags for me and sent me out the door as the Ambassador for a world music company, AOMusic.  Then the Universe whispered with a smirk, “so you say you want to be a film produce.  Have at it”.   Without effort and with no plan at all, I had stumbled upon myself and my bliss in less than 30 days. It was far easier than loosing those 10 extra Christmas pounds.

So, now, 16 months later I have been to The Film School in Seattle, one script has come and gone, I have created a short film for AOMusic in Nepal, become the executive producer and fundraiser for an AOMusic documentary, work along side of Miriam Stockley who I had always wanted to meet since the album Adiemus was released over a decade ago and gone fly fishing with ‘Viper’ himself, Tom Skerrit.  And I am traveling in spite of having no driver’s license as my path keeps unfolding, winding, calling on me to pack up and go where I am needed with no notice. When I get to the next destination I bump into a better, shinier, more alive part of myself.  So I now say Yes to the Universe with excitement and enthusiasm even though I have no clear destination. My notion of faith and trust has gone turbo.

The initial idea I had was simply an idea.  I have not settled anywhere, I keep moving as a gypsy without a driver’s license.  I keep saying yes and that yes opens a next door, introduces me to the most amazing people and fulfills life long dreams without my planning the outcome or trying to make anything happen. My idea of ‘going with the flow’ has changed in nearly a year and a half.  I think now I would say that I am “allowing the flow to move me forward”. And what is the flow?  Love. Joy. Creative Expression.

Now at the beginning of 2013 I do not look ahead very far.  I used to spend most of 2012 looking toward the end of the year wondering what the end of the Mayan prophecy would look like, how the world would change.  2012 was a marker, a point of focus.  But, 2013 seems as if there is no vista point, nothing more than vast possibilities stretching out endlessly for all of humankind.  I plan simply for one day but I make sure I have clean underwear just in case.  Then the next day unfolds and I plan for it the best I can when most of the time I don’t know the answer to the basic building blocks of life:  Who, What, When or Where.  Only Yes.  For me, ‘No’ equals resistance and ‘Yes’ equals surrender.

What is calling me and coming into focus for 2013?  Back to Nepal and the Maratika Caves, on to Osaka Japan and the Temples of Humankind in Italy.  Working with the growing family of AO and AO Foundation International, producing, working with my daughter, discovering the joy of countless children around the world and giving back ten fold for all the riches this life has provided me with. Trusting that all that is needed to move this mountain of an AO vision forward and to then change countless lives, is always available and generously supplied.

Some days I barely have gas money but money is supplied.  I can allow all the money I possess to be a creative agent, freely moving and meeting the need of the moment and the money replenishes itself.  I can wake up one day daunted by the possibility of raising several million dollars and then it dawns on me that I can do it a dollar at a time.  Love and money are inextricably connected.

And this year has solidified a knowing that has become the hallmark of my experience: Here is what I have learned and is etched in my heart:  Rich does not mean money in the bank and stuff in the closet.  Money does not make the world go round.  Love is the only currency that holds it’s value and compassion, kindness, joy and generosity is the true sustainable resource that has gone untapped far too long. I am grateful for this awareness and eager to see what is next.

On to 2013…the year of Yes …and Yes again.  And here is also what I now know and will take with me in my journey (after I pack my clean underwear of course).

Tired of Speaking Sweetly

Hafiz

Love wants to reach out and manhandle us,

Break all our teacup talk of God.

If you had the courage and
Could give the Beloved His choice, some nights,
He would just drag you around the room
By your hair,
Ripping from your grip all those toys in the world
That bring you no joy.
Love sometimes gets tired of speaking sweetly
And wants to rip to shreds
All your erroneous notions of truth
That make you fight within yourself, dear one,
And with others,
Causing the world to weep
On too many fine days.
God wants to manhandle us,
Lock us inside of a tiny room with Himself
And practice His dropkick.
The Beloved sometimes wants
To do us a great favor:
Hold us upside down
And shake all the nonsense out.
But when we hear
He is in such a “playful drunken mood”
Most everyone I know
Quickly packs their bags and hightails it
Out of town.

 

A Case for Greatness

We live in a world where speaking to someone’s Greatness is infrequent.  Most often we speak to what is wrong, what is incomplete, aggravating, and problematic in a person.  Praise and appreciation fall between the cracks of relationship usually rendering the basic pallet of connection one of working it out, putting up with, overlooking or simply, reactive confrontation when we get overwhelmed.

The basic ingredient that can change the tide in any relationship is honesty:  Speaking the truth, first with yourself and then with the other. The first question is “Why am I not telling the truth?  What am I afraid of and what do I think the outcome will be if I keep choosing to withhold my feelings or thoughts and observations?”

Yet, in our new age culture where tolerance is far more desired than confrontation, we have gone to the other side of the equation.  Tolerance tends to end up looking like skirting the issue, having sympathy for the plight of a friend, when many times it is really fear of confrontation that drives our silence and in-authenticity.  So we call it “Tolerance”.  That is a kind of lie that we feed.

There is a middle ground that we rarely find ease at identifying and then live out in our relationships:  A combination of Empathy and one of Fierce Truth Telling.  The question is for most of us, how to tell the honest truth from the heart in a way that speaks to the appreciation for and the greatness of the person we care about, instead of how they have failed?”  This is the essential and necessary shift we all need to make in all our relationships, both to self and others, and in the larger Shift that is happening on our planet.

As the paradigm of power shifts incrementally from a patriarchal model to a more balanced form of Power, which now includes the feminine skill of empowering through intuition, instinct and empathy, we are challenged to re-write the common ways in which we approach all of our relationships.  It is way past time, to eliminate all the dysfunctional forms of relationship with other people and with ourselves no matter what we imagine the risk to be. The cost of not doing this is far greater than the perceived risk.

There is a long list of habits that we learned from our parents, our government, our culture, our church and an even larger list that is fed from unspoken fears: Namely, that if we are ruthlessly loving, we will be rejected and unloved in return.  How many of us have become expert at ways of being in relationship or business that in fact never helps us achieve what we want, which is connection, love, power, creativity, full expression of self and harmony?  How many ways of undermining the success of relationship do I practice without consciously thinking?

*  Withholding the truth because I believe the person cannot handle it?

*  Withholding my feelings because I don’t want a conflict or to be rejected or in many cases loose the little bit I have or think I need from that person?

*  Telling myself that I cannot say the truth because I need something from that person that they will take away if they do not like what I say?  I then settle for something that is incomplete, dysfunctional and dishonest. I fall out of integrity with myself.

*  Rationalization is the biggest lie that we use to protect ourselves.  We tell ourselves that it is better that the person does not know the truth because they will be hurt, offended or will not be able to handle the truth, so “I will protect them from those feelings because I love them”.  This is the root of becoming an enabler:  Allowing the person to continue to be or do things in ways that alienate and create problems for themselves and for others and not speaking to the power and greatness in them, but to their weakness instead.  By doing this we never allow for the possibility of change and growth and everything becomes stagnant.  Not only the flow of love in the relationship but the flow of money and resources.  A kind of energetic constipation where nothing is moving takes over.

The minute we conform to someone’s dysfunction, adapt to it, and accommodate even for selfish reasons, we have supported limitation and dysfunction instead of health and vibrancy in the person we are with.  And have you noticed that we then feel less vibrant ourselves, more constrained and unhappy? In other words, we strip the person of the possibility to grow into the person they are capable of being and strip ourselves of a life of integrity that only brings ill health.

When we do this the toxicity of Resentment and Bitterness worms its way into the groundwater of each person in the equation.   We do not foster greatness in ourselves or in the other.  We live in a model based in fears and limitation.  Therefore, the outcome of ANY relationship, whether it is a love relationship, a friendship or a business partnership, will reflect the energy going into it; namely, limitation and lack of greatness, stagnancy of feelings and of resources.  As within, so without.

A model for a new paradigm in relationship or business must be based on not only honesty at all costs which is rooted in holding the vision for a persons greatness and for their own ability to learn and change, but also for our capacity to rise above the adaptation to weakness model and firmly plant ourselves in the vision of who we are capable of being and who the person is capable of becoming.

We do not hold with respect, a persons inherent Greatness, if we allow a friend, lover, parent, husband, wife or colleague to become defined by their limitations or blind spots.  And, we do not live in our own Greatness if we are not willing to risk living in total honesty and fierce loving.

AO Means Light

AOMusic went to Nepal with five young people in August.  We recorded children who are singing on our new album to be released in 2013.  This is our fundraising trailer for a documentary that we hope you will all support.