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.
“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.
“We can’t be afraid of change. You may feel very secure in the pond that you are in, but if you never venture out of it, you will never know that there is such a thing as an ocean, a sea. Holding onto something that is good for you now, may be the very reason why you don’t have something better.”
― C. JoyBell C.
I ventured out of my pond over a year ago. I put my tiny boat in a new river and made a commitment to stay in and see every inch of where this river was taking me. I have lived on the road for now over 14 months and have loved every minute. And from that deep commitment, that letting go of everything that was familiar, I not only discovered a passion in this life, but a purpose that uses every part of who I am. A discovery about my work in the world that looked nothing like I had imagined yet embodied everything I love: Children, Giving, Film, Music, Travel and Collaboration.
My partnership with Richard Gannaway, AOMusic and Arcturian Gate has not only “re-seeded” my life with a new kind of hope, a bigger version of myself and a certainty that love is why we are all here, but it has allowed me to meet people all over the world, reach out to children in need and enroll countless others in expressing their own talents and gifts in aligning with us on the journey of Music married to Cause.
This year we established our non-profit agency, AO Foundation International. Through our music, our connection with children and their families who live in hardship around the world, we are giving back to these children who make our music what it is and we are aligning with several other non-profits who give generously to helping those in need. As AO becomes the only group to give 100% of our profits to helping the world, we embark on an entirely new paradigm.
This Christmas season is amplified by the ending of the Mayan Calendar. This is a time which increases the potential for love and unity around the world. I have been watching and posting on Facebook this week and see a surge of hope, love and gratitude flowing far more freely today. Each of us are being called to use our energy with intention and focus on giving, gratitude and love. And energy can be working with your hands, making music, feeding people who need our help and giving of our financial resources.
We are establishing and developing all the channels for giving with our new 501c3. And now we can offer all of you who give to AO through our foundation, a tax deduction that can benefit you as your generous support financially will launch rockets of love into the lives of so many. We are rapidly building a financial village who make our work happen.
And AO Foundation International is needing to create an impeccable infrastructure and needs financial help to put this vessel of love into the ocean of causes to make sharing and giving the reason our music exists. Please help us during this amazing time by donating to our new endeavor. Not only will you receive a useful tax deduction, but we will send you our new album just about to be released in 2013.
Simply contact us through our website www.aofi.org and use the “Donate Button”. Or contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Your financial support is greatly needed and appreciated.
AO starts the new year with a brand new album that is destined for another Grammy Nomination and beginning a fully funded Documentary series and live performance in Italy. We are eager for you to join our family, follow us on this amazing journey and participate in ways you are inspired. Look for updates as all our work of love manifests. What a time we live in!
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.
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 changing 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 us and the way we saw the world. U2 opened our eyes to injustice and issues of freedom, Madonna bust the sexual revolution wide open. Music changes people. Music can also save lives and create hope and love where there has been none. I want to do that any chance I get!
I have been on the road for six months now. And most of those Road Trips taken were without being able to drive my car. My legal rights to a driver’s license buried in some endless bureaucracy. At first, I felt like the inability to legally drive would become a boulder sitting right in the middle of my life and block my deep intentions to follow the flow of where the river would take me. For a month or more I reacted and resisted this interruption in my perceived plan. Once the likelihood of driving wherever my heart led, was challenged, I relaxed into the “interruption” and began to relate to it as a gift. “What might this unwanted experience provide for me that I could not have known or perceived without it?” And the answer was: “Surprise?” The answer was,”The unexpected”.
What I am coming to understand is that MY “plans” are only one possible future. And my attachment to the outcome of those plans can limit my life. If I could have driven, my two week stay with my daughter with an intention to drive North to Maine would have me leaving Asheville. But, because I had to pause for a moment, breath, let go of my attachment to any outcome, I stumbled into my own desire to create a website while waiting for what I thought would be a few weeks before the debacle of my driver’s license was behind me.
I interviewed two people for the job and hired one. Mary Long brought love, joy and creativity to my creating a clearer identity and I hired her. Richard Gannaway was equally as gifted, but somehow in our interview we never truly discussed my budding website, but fell into a mutual love for music, for his work as a composer, singer and musician with AO Music. Richard sent me home that day with his newest album and my life changed forever.
The music did what music only can. It opened a part of me long-buried and reminded me of a part of myself that had forgotten a core inspiration in my life which lead me to aligning my self with AO Music and it’s care for changing hearts and helping children. My life ignited. If I had driven away as planned I would have missed Joy breaking into my life.
“The Law of Attraction is responding to your thought, not to your current reality. When you change the thought, your reality must follow suit. If things are going well for you, then focusing upon what is happening now will cause the well-being to continue, but if there are things happening now that are not pleasing, you must find a way of taking your attention away from those unwanted things. You have the ability to quickly change your patterns of thought, and eventually… your life experience.” Abraham
I stayed much longer in Asheville than had been planned. I had time to sit inside of my own dreaming, my own inspiration and my deepest wants and desires and could not “drive away from them”. The minute I claimed these hopes and dreams my energy changed, my happiness increased and as the law of attraction is trying to teach us, suddenly and immediately people, ideas, opportunities and gifts that MATCHED those dreams and inspirations began to flood into my life. I was offered the chance to write a screenplay and then to attend The Film School in Seattle.
Tom Skerritt, The Film School
I did not chase my dreams in my car. I couldn’t. I did not make a ten point list of goals for the year to tick off one by one. I waited, I practiced deep self inquiry and I listened to promptings that had been drowned out by my assumptions about my life and what I should be doing. And in return, the Universe was given room and space to spill into my life with opportunity that I could not have seen.
Since “having my wings clipped”, so to speak by unforeseen circumstances, I have found that in fact, I do not need a car. That I do not need to spend all that money and gas for something that I have done just fine without. I can stop polluting the planet. I can create a slower pace instead of knowing that my car is right outside my front door so I can dash anywhere. That has been another surprise. The cost of a periodic taxi, taking the bus when I am in an urban area, being a passenger with a friend who I get a chance to chat with, and generally limiting how many places I need to be in a day has slowed me down to a rhythm that I am liking. That is healthier and more centering.
I have spent time on the ocean in Washington with Icelandic Ponies, I have lived in a hotel for a month while going to The Film School here is Seattle, I have aligned my life and heart with a cause to open the heart through music. I am nearly done with the first draft of the screenplay I have been asked to write. And my website reflects the constant unfolding of me as I move toward being the most authentic expression of myself. And come the end of May, one year after the death of my mother, my daughter, who I have been staying with in Asheville will be moving. The lease is up. And the question that comes back round is: What’s next. Where will my next stop be? I cannot wait to be surprised!
I was directed in a scene by Tom Skerritt as the infamous “Mrs. Robinson” from the movie The Graduate. Acting is NOT my forte so I will stick to being a writer!
I am over joyed to be partnering with AO Music. There is such love and heartfelt work happening between music and children in need through the AO Foundation. This last year we won the best album of the year for World Music and are working on a forth album to be released next February. We also were accepted on the innovative fundraising initiative, Kickstarter. Visit us there to find out what $10 can do and hear some of the new music.
AOMUSIC is now live on Kickstarter to help fund their new album! The group is scheduled to record children this year in Nepal, Ireland, Germany and Haiti, which will need to take place on location. Please visit AOMUSIC’s Kickstarter link, and pass it around!
May 18th is the deadline for their funding goal!