As joyful as the image on the cover, “This” is the newest creation by Mantra-Pop Artist Robin Renee. With four previous CD’s to her credit, her style is alt-rock-pop-celtic-folk-kirtan. Her voice is both deep and soaring, stretching the sound spectrum. An Eastern and Western multi-instrumentalist, Robin plays harmonium, guitar and keyboard. My first listen was in the car which carried me along winding roads with the delightfully sing-along-able pieces.
And so it begins… with the light and airy Keshava which is an homage to one of her devotional deities; Krishna. It has a James Taylor-esque feel with the opening chords which is no surprise since she acknowledges J.T. as a long time musical influence. It felt like being wrapped in sunshine as I chanted along, helpless to resist its appeal.
Funky Bhagavate ushers the listener in with chimes and percussive rhythms that beckon hip shaking, eyes closed to take in the lyrics: OM Namo Bhagavate Vasudevaya ; one translation is: ” OM and salutations to the Indwelling One, substance of the Divine“.
Kali Ma Potluck Singalong has a fuller choral sound with guitar strums and playful drums that honors the Goddess Kali, whose appearance is fierce, but her power to destroy can also be used to rebuild.
“Hail to the supreme Lord, the auspicious one who brings happiness and joy, who dwells in the hearts of all!” is the English translation for Jaya Jaya Shiva Shambho that has a tribal dancing around a fire sense about it.
A benediction that blends Robin’s Pagan and Hindu spiritual practice comes in the verses of Blessed Be, Namaste. “May intentions for tomorrow, hold you gently in today.”
Leaving Space is the only piece on the CD without lyrics as it incorporates chimes, ting-sha bells, rain stick, drums, sandwiched in between silence. Defintely a close your eyes, feel your heart beat and immerse yourself in it number.
Om Mane Padme Hum sounds as if it was recorded in a Tibetan monestary; with the sacred chanting of the words that mean “praise to the jewel in the lotus.” The final chanting of the word om brings this ideal accompaniment for yoga, meditation, dancing and simply being to a peaceful close.
Background vocals are offered by Isitri Om Kati Brennan and Angela Cavallaro whose call and response sweet soundings enhance the CD. Producer Jack Walker and Karttikeya provide percussion, keyboard and bass accompaniment.
Debbie Ford posed this question on Facebook and I felt called to respond: “Why is it that so many of us hold on to experiences from our past, refusing to let them go? Is it because we don’t know how to let go and move on?”
I answered: “Perhaps fear that what awaits won’t be as fullfilling as the best parts of our past or or even more challenging than the worst parts.” By the time one has reached my age (53, about to turn 54 in a few weeks), they have accumulated, not just baggage, but a steamer trunk of beliefs, attitudes and behaviors, some that serve us and others that sabotague us. Lately I have been sorting through mine, for so many reasons. With the multitude of changes that have occurred over the past four years, with the passing of my parents, the sale of their home, the publication of my book, leaving a full time job that I had for 11 years, launching my writing and speaking biz, I have come face to face with my fears and have been letting go of my limiting beliefs. I wonder if I have been holding on to them or they have been holding onto me and I haven’t had the courage or willingness to dislodge them. I remember seeing a poster of a kitty cat hanging from a tree branch with the quote “Everything I’ve ever let go of has claw marks on it.” that was attributed to the brilliant and emotionally disturbed writer David Foster Wallace who committed suicide in 2008 after years of treatment. Clearly a man who was holding onto a great deal of pain.
Back in the 1980’s when I saw the poster, I was taking a training at a drug and alcohol recovery center. I was initially amused by the image, but then the impact hit home that for so long, I too had been carrying self deprecating thoughts, hard judgements about myself and my abilities, fears that I wouldn’t meet the sometimes overwhelming expectations I had for myself. Fast forward all these years later and I am still clinging to that tree branch at times. This past week, I tumbled into a swirling whirlpool of not-enough-ness, the strong current of which threatened to sweep me away. Loving and even stronger friends reached out their hands, for which I grabbed and they pulled me out, wringing wet but more resilient for the experience.
So this letting go thing….when I gaze over my shoulder at the wonderful experiences to which I want to hold on, I smile and the memories warm me. I know that they are absorbed into the all-that-I-am. When I look back at the painful goings on, and I have, of necessity, been facing them lately, see that they too had their purpose, since, if not for them, I wouldn’t have had the aforementioned strength and resilience to swim ashore.
What is your tree branch?
http://youtu.be/0jsw_r0hILQ I Can See Clearly -Jimmy Cliff
There are many days when I feel like this meteorological phenomenon, swirling a million miles an hour, knocking about everything in my path, at a dizzying pace. Whew! Although I have eased back considerably, there are indeed times during which I rev up the engine. When that happens, paradoxically I feel like I’m not going to do enough, be enough, have enough. I was on the phone tonight with my cousin Jody in order to pick her brain about the origin of this obnoxious thought. What she came up with, which was really no surprise, was reminding me about my workaholic father who held a full time job, did volunteer work, raised two children, kept up with the house, and sequentially took care of elderly mother and mother in-law. It wasn’t something I hadn’t considered, believe me.
I shared with her that in the past 72 hours, I had officiated at a wedding, co-facilitated a workshop, did a radio interview with Derek O’Neill, based in Ireland, found that two articles I had written, came out today, got a book in the mail to which I had contributed a chapter, will be co-leading a service on Sunday at a Fall Festival, planning other presentations for the next few months, was asked to collaborate on another book project. Any sane person would say that I am fairly accomplished and yet….there is that relentless voice that says “not enough, not enough, not enough.” I want to muzzle it. I teach this stuff because I need to learn it, naturally.
Later calls to my friends Ondreah and Peggy offered solace as they suggested compassion for the slave driver aspects of myself who keeps the hamster wheel in motion or tornado spinning. She’s there for a purpose, although what it is, I can’t totally fathom. I can easily see that some of it is a joy-filled experience, what with all the creative juices that get flowing when I do this work, so it feeds the adrenalin rush of it all.
I ask for guidance and grace to allow me to move through this time of second guessing and into a sense that I AM enough. Grateful for friends who remind me.
On Sunday night at sundown, Jews all over the world will be celebrating Rosh Hashanah, colloquially known as The Jewish New Year. The words translate to ‘the head of the year’ and is considered the birthday of the world. It is one during which people attend services and join with family and friends around a communal table, sharing food, love and gratitude for another turn around the sun. It is the onset of the High Holy Days that comes to a crescendo on Yom Kippur. To me it has always been about do-overs, with realigning myself with renewed purpose; turning over a new leaf, as it were. The Hebrew word t’shuvah which is what we are asked to do as a component of the holiday, is just that…turning. We are all called on to do that each day, regardless of our faith tradition.
In my childhood synagogue called Congregation Beth Torah in Willingboro, NJ, I would sit next to my father in services, as he wrapped his tallis (fringed prayer shawl) around his shoulders and I would play with the fringes and sometimes sneak underneath it with him. Such sweet memories enwrapped in that experience as well. The singing, praying and chanting would go on for hours. One thing I never understood and to this day, and still am puzzled about is the concept of ‘being written in the book of life for another year, or a sweet new year.”, which is what are told the holidays are about. Did that mean that if someone had trauma or tragedy in their lives or died, that it made them bad people or somehow unworthy of another chance? As an adult, I realize that things happen and people die, regardless of their circumstances or intention.
Judaism is a religion filled with symbolism. A ram’s horn called a shofar is blown, as a clarion call, a wake up/shake up to the opportunity to practice tikkun olam (repair of the world), to connect with our fellow planetary dwellers, regardless of country or religion of origin, regardless of skin color or ability, regardless of gender or gender identity, regardless of sexual orientation.
A food combo eaten at Rosh Hashanah is apples dipped in honey, to symbolize a sweet year.
Another fond memory is attending services at Temple Beth Or in Kendall, Florida, I would immerse myself in words and sound once more as Rabbi Rami Shapiro offered his insights into the meaning of the holidays. He and other members of the congregation wrote a prayer book that was filled with poems, blessings and prayers that spoke to my heart, even more deeply than those of my childhood synagogue. It introduced me to the music of Rabbi Shefa Gold and the writings of Judy Chicago.
And then all that has divided us will merge
And then compassion will be wedded to power
And then softness will come to a world that is harsh and unkind
And then both men and women will be gentle
And then both men and women will be strong
And then no person will be subject to another’s will
And then all will be rich and free and varied
And then the greed of some will give way to the needs of many
And then all will equally share in the Earth’s abundance
And then we will all care for the sick and the weak and the old
And then all will nourish the young And then all will cherish life’s creatures
And then all will live in harmony with each other and the Earth
And then everywhere will be called Eden once again
Since college, most of my High Holiday times (also referred to as the Days of Awe…one of my favorite words, by the way) are spent in meditation, in nature and with kindred spirits, not confined in the edifice of a synagogue. It is where I feel most tapped in to the God of my understanding and where I can more readily engage in the deep spiritual work that really is my entire life.
I clean up any detritus from the previous year, doing ‘come cleans’ with folks with whom there may be either misunderstanding, residual gunk OR unsaid expressions of love and appreciation. It really does feel like a refreshing waterfall shower.
Regardless of your religious faith, I encourage you to engage in such a practice. L’shana Tova…for a good year!
http://youtu.be/lqeLjEBp9hg Sasson V’Simkhah by Rabbi Shefa Gold