The Bliss Blog

The Bliss Blog

I Would Love

                                                                             

The marvels of modern technology meets the simplicity of guitar and voice of Lee Coulter, a young man whose origins are as eclectic as his musical tastes. According to his website, he was influenced by Ray Charles, The Beatles, Babyface, Nirvana, Paul Simon, Norah Jones, The Beach Boys, Michael Jackson and Hank Williams. He is compared favorably to Jason Mraz,  G. Love and Jack Johnson.  Born of an Indonesian mother and Australian father, Lee’s spoken voice maintains the sound of the outback as he graces stages and wedding venues from his home base in Encinitas, California. His journey to sonic stardom began in Queensland where as a youth, he became a singer songwriter as a way of helping to support his single parent family.  Now his ‘home team’ includes his talented Photographer/Anthropologist wife Sharisse and their little one. The songs are lively and upbeat, gathering in listeners world wide.

I was introduced to Lee and his soulful sound via his Live From The Laptop series in which he records and makes available, songs on his laptop computer. My friend Brian Hilliard posted on Facebook one of Lee’s delightful pieces called I Would Love in which he invokes the ideas that if given the opportunity, in every case, he would just love.   “If I were the earth, I would give you all that you need”… then if he were a book, a pen, money  …  If I were a gun, I would love to never kill anyone…melt me down to make something fun…I would love, I would love, I would love”  How cool is that?

Think about your relationships and ask yourself, if YOU had the chance to just love, would you?  It costs nothing but your fears and belief in separation.

How do you live your bliss?

I live my bliss by chasing the perfect song. I don’t think there is really such a thing and if there is that I am the one to write it but it sure warms my heart trying to find it. Among plenty of other emotions.

How were you led to music?
Everyone is led to music. I chose to play it, I believe, because I want to communicate deeply with humans all over and it is one of the most powerful mediums to do so. And most easily produced mediums. I couldn’t make and distribute top quality feature films from my bedroom.

What genre would it fit into?

I never know what genre to call my music but I’m not too cool to be in the pop box. I guess it’s mostly acoustic so acoustic pop works. I made up a genre name “funkacana” but not all of my songs fit under that.

Do you write your songs or do they write you?

Most of the time, I feel a disconnect from the songs I write. Like it wasn’t me that wrote them. And I guess my music being my life’s work would mean that it somewhat defines me.
 
How has your music changed since becoming a Daddy?
The music hasn’t changed since I became a dad apart from specifically writing a song about my son after he was born.
 
Can you introduce us to your alter ego; he of the video Rockstar 101?
Walter LeGeaux is the result of being amused by what a lot of people apparently find appealing. I’ve always like producing hip hop beats and danceable music so when I took on this side project of Square Pegs Baby, I thought not only will the music be a different style to what I’m used to performing but I’ll play the part as well. He embraces all the characteristics that I find obnoxious and transparent in some current pop icons. SPB music is mostly for real and for the fun of it but Walter LeGeaux will can hopefully shine a light on some of the ridiculousness along the way, via some video blogging. If not, if it makes people laugh, that is a goal achieved as well.
 
How did Live From The Laptop come to be?
Live from the Laptop came about because I saw it as a way for people to see what I can do with just a guitar and voice in one take as opposed to the full production that is on the album. It’s just another way to share what I do. I’ve recently started to do some covers on there including from fellow obscure, unsigned artists. There’s so many beautiful songs out there that people don’t know about and if I can help turn a few more people on to some of the undiscovered genius out there, I’ll find that very fulfilling.

This Live From The Laptop performance was shot in front of Lake Tahoe

http://youtu.be/hL8rpym_OO8 

www.leecoulter.com

What I Wish I Knew

                                                                       

                                                                  

Turn the clock back 3 decades ago  to January of 1981 and a young woman is sitting perched on a stool in 3/4 profile. Her waist length hair is flowing like a waterfall across her shoulders that are garbed in a tan corduroy shirt. Her friend Brian had just snapped a photo and captured her wistful gazing-off-into-the-distance expression. Although her body was in Westville, NJ at the time, her mind was on the frigid, snowy Appalachian trail,  as she was recalling 10 days spent on an Outward Bound course out of Dartmouth. It was her senior year at Glassboro State College and she had considered moving to Vermont after graduation. She figured that if she could survive outside in the winter in New England, she could manage it inside and so she embarked on a remarkable journey that had her stretching herself in ways that she had not considered.

Ten days without showering, (we all smelled the same anyway and bacteria didn’t have much of a chance against 40 below temps at night:), returning home with a broken pinkie, frostbite on both hands, a sprained ankle, bronchitis and bruised hips from carrying a 50 pound pack, I never moved to New England, but came home with a lesson well worth the price of admission and all of the boo-boos. 

I call it “Make A Positive Change” and it was offered by one of the instructors. He would tell us that rather than moaning and complaining about what wasn’t working for us, that we could make a shift in our actions and thus our attitude.  “If you are hot, take off a layer of clothes. If you are cold, add a layer. If your socks are wet, change them. If you are hungry, eat. If you are tired, rest.”  Simple as that.

When I found that photo and reclaimed that memory 10 or so years ago, I began an ongoing dialog with that woman who had not yet become the me who is reflected in the mirror today. Many more lines around these eyes, grey strands wisping through the pixie short shorn hair, and a treasure trove of wisdom that she now gifts back to that somewhat naive version of herself.

This I think of as “What I Wish I Knew When I Was You” a kind of ‘if I knew then, what I know now, I could have saved alot of grief.’

*Where you end and I begin/giving up savior behavior~

I had long been a co-dependent caregiver who spent 6 years going to CODA (Co-dependents Anonymous) meetings, because I somehow incorporated the idea that I was responsible for the wellbeing of people in my life. I had developed the persona of ‘everyone’s sweetheart’, not wanting to make waves and with the absurd belief that I could rescue, fix or save people. What I came to understand is that we are each responsible for our own healing and while I can be of support, I need not carry any one. When I live in my own skin and you live in yours, even while merging spiritually, we maintain our unique identity.  We are each strengthened by the challenges we face and we empower each other to stretch.

Recovering from spiritual amnesia~

I forget all of the above from time to time and that God/dess has got my back. I can do things FOR myself, but need not do them BY myself. Things always work out for the highest good, even if I might not think so at the time. Some of my biggest so- called losses were really blessings in disguise. Jobs that I didn’t get that I wanted, made me available for something even better. Relationships that shifted left space for new people to enter my life that I might not have met had I been with someone else.

Sometimes you have to fall apart to see how together you can be~

That was a tough one for me, since I (like most people) want to present the appearance of having it all together. I have since learned that being vulnerable is a strength and not a weakness. It also allows the people in my life to do for me, which is a shared blessing. And ‘falling apart’ gives me the chance to put myself back together as I would like to be.

Everyone you now know and love was once a stranger~

When I think about every treasured person in my life, I marvel that there was actually a time when they weren’t even on my radar screen, living out their lives somewhere else in the world. When the door opened and they walked through, there was sometimes an instantaneous recognition; the Celtic concept of ‘anam cara’ or ‘soul friend’.  I would count many thousands of people in my overlapping soul circles, from the various groups in which I am involved.

Love is never wasted~

In my nearly 53 years on the planet, I have been in many romantic/intimate relationships; some short term, some with greater longevity. With very few exceptions, I remain friends with each one. From those folks, I have accepted beauty and grace and love and now a piece of who they are remains with me. A friend of mine who is a relationship coach likes to encourage people to ‘leave the campground better than you found it.’ I would like to think I have done so.

Everyone is on loan to us~

When my husband Michael was in the end stages of his life, I would engage in what I would refer to as ‘God wrestling sessions’ during which I would say  “He’s mine and you can’t have him.”, to which The Divine would lovingly, but succintly reply “He’s mine and he’s on loan to you like everyone else in your life.” Knowing that helps me appreciate everyone who enters my sphere.

Follow the Hansel and Gretel breadcrumb trail~

I entertain myself at times by remembering how I met the various sweet souls who grace my life. For example, I was listening to my friend Steven Groff’s CD that I reviewed for Monday’s Bliss Blog and grinned when I considered that I had met Steven, if memory serves, via an organization called Rubye’s Kids that sponsors an annual holiday party for inner city Philly Kids. He and his wife Rhoni and I were among the volunteer staff. I got involved with the group when a friend named Kathleen who was a clown and assistant to Patch Adams, told me about it and I donned my faerie clown costume as Feather and helped entertain the kids there. I had met Kathleen when I was co-publisher of Visions Magazne and she came to us to help with design of her brochure. SO, what it came down to was that I was enjoying Steven’s music because all those years ago, I met Kathleen.

Channeling my inner Annie~

When I have experienced the inevitable dark night of the soul, I find myself singing “The sun’ll come out tomorrow. Bet your bottom dollar, there’ll be sun…”

Worry is a waste of imagination~

Most of the things I have fretted over have never come to pass. I have so many better things to do than get myself in a tizzy over the unknown. I have also heard heard it said that worry is praying for what you don’t want.

The event will go as the event will go~

When I first started facilitating Cuddle Party workshops, I would call Reid Mihalko who created it and express feelings of anxiety and all manner of ‘what if…?” and he would say, “Darlin’, the event will go as the event will go.”  I need only to prepare as best I can and then let it go. As true of life as Cuddle Party.

Put your heart and soul into all you do~

I am convinced that most people don’t do the best they CAN or are capable of. They do the best they are WILLING to do. Life is like the hokey pokey…it’s more fun if you put your whole self in.

Delays are not denials~

Just because events haven’t always turned out immediately as I wanted them to, doesn’t mean that they won’t. It took 20 years to manna-fest the interview I did with His Holiness The Dalai Lama….two decades after planting the seed with my expressed desire. A friend had commented after the July 2008 interview with the question “How do you know HE wasn’t waiting 20 years for YOU to interview HIM?”

BYOB-Be Your Own Bliss~

Joseph Campbell was known for the saying “Follow your bliss.” What if instead, you could BE your bliss; carrying it with you wherever you went? As Master or Mistress of your own bliss, you are quite simply limit-less.

The original photo  of me was taken by my friend Bryan Effron 30 years ago and the photo of that photo now bearing wings, was taken by Cynthia Ericson of Ericson Strategic Marketing Solutions at Molly Leese Nece ‘s Sunshine Sister Idol event www.ericsonsms.com

Meet Me At Your Heart

                                                                        

Meet Me At Your Heart

Sitting in my car en route to the gym last night, I was carried, not just by a Jeep, to my destination, but on waves of sound offered from the heart, soul and voice of Steven Groff.  His newly released CD is called Meet Me At Your Heart and it is a simple and profound offering to the Divine in the form of sacred Sanskrit call and response chanting known as kirtan.  I have been enraptured for years, listening to Steven live and in person at Philly area events called Chant, Chai and Charity.  His vocal abilities have the same flavor as the real Indian chai that is served there…a bit of sweetness with a tad of spice that warms the listener from the inside out.

This release is a true family affair that includes the talents of  his wife Rhoni Groff, daughter Jade Groff, daughter Mira Newman and son in-law David Newman who themselves are internationally known kirtan artists.  Add to the mix Rama Bala, Sarah Carlisle, Phillippo Franchini, Alfred Goodrich, Renata Gregori, Sarah Halley, Anna Krain, Corey Sokoloff, Jenny Stout, Marianne and Randy Sutin and Hoagy Wing and you have a large, extended family of choice. I think of the backup singers as ‘anahata angels’ (anahata is the Sanskrit term for the heart chakra) whose sonic support might very well have wings.

The seven pieces on the CD honor various aspects of deity.  The first selection is Calling Ganesh, paying tribute to the Elephant head God who is known as the remover of obstacles. Jai Ma is a devotional to the Divine Feminine in her many permutations such as Lakshmi, Durga and Kali. The original title piece Meet Me At Your Heart  beckons the listener to join the community of kindred spirits. Hare Ram is an offering to ‘the shining one’…Lord Vishnu.  Shyam Radhe Shyam is a chant that opens the door to the heart as it speaks of the eternal connection between Radhe and Krishna.  Govinda Gopala refers to the incarnation of Krishna as a youth. The closing piece…a peaceful send off is the traditional chant: Lokah  which translates to:

May all beings, in all worlds be blessed with freedom, health and happiness
Om, we invoke the Divine Primordial Source Energy to infuse us with
Peace in all bodies, Peace in all minds, Peace in all souls.

Meet Me At Your Heart is a CD that should accompany you on your travels both on and off the yoga mat or meditation cushion.

You can listen to a sampling that will have you wanting more…entitled Jai Ma

http://youtu.be/d8wnqB2a1No

Pure Imagination

                                                                     

I love ritual. It grounds me and helps me to feel more connected to the Divine. One unusual ritual in which I engage each Tuesday night is going to my ‘gym ashram’ to ‘sweat my prayers in the key of  Glee’. For those who don’t watch tv or who have been meditating in a cave for the past year, Glee is a weekly show that takes place in a fictional Ohio High School. Populated by a quirky cast of characters that represents the various cliques and archetypes; from the football quarterback to the mohawked troublemaker, from the Barbra Streisand wanna-be raised by two Gay men, to the head of the cheerleading squad who used to be in the abstinence club until she got pregnant by the mohawked troublemaker but had been in relationship with the jock who eventually fell in love with the Barbra wanna-be and then broke up with her to get back with the first girl who prior to their reunion, was with the new kid in school who becomes the new football captain … from the bad girl secretly  in love with the sweet, but ditsy blond, to one who wants to dance, but is unable because he has been in a wheel chair since a childhood accident and who was in relationship with the Asian-American goth girl who broke up with him and is now dating another Asian American who can’t sing, but can dance up a storm, ends up with the sweet but ditsy blond, to the token openly Gay kid who sings like Madonna, Ethel Merman and Julie Andrews who is best friends with the token African American young woman who is a gutsy diva and is now in relationship with a male student from another school to which he had transferred to get away from a bullying football player who is in the closet himself and then the mohawked troublemaker who has mellowed is now in relationship with tougher than he is female wrestler (you need a score card to keep up with all of the dynamics:) they all have one thing in common…they have talent in the vocal realm.  For various reasons, each has decided to join the Glee club called The New Directions. Lest you think that it is all glamour and glory, know that they are considered mistfits by most of the other students, as evidenced by the number of times they have gotten Slushies in various shades and hues tossed on them in the hallways.  Add to it, the coach of the cheerleading squad called The Cheerios who detests the head of the Glee club and does everything she can to sabotage their success , an OCD beleagured guidance counselor who has  mutual but unfulfilled love and lust for the head of the Glee club and you have a worldwide hit on your hands.  

Growing up loving music and musical theater performance, it is like watching an hour long musical that keeps me on the elliptical for that length of time.

The character development has gotten richer week by week and topics such as bigtory, homophobia, prayer, death, sex, teen alcohol abuse and pregnancy, forgiveness, parental job loss and homelessness are touched on poignantly.  This week was  no exception.  Sue, the Grinch-like character who we come to find out got the way she did, because her Nazi-hunting mother left her and her sister Jean who had Down Syndrome in the care of others to travel world wide. Sue developed a bitterness about life as a result of that and the way people treated her sister.  In the most recent episode,  Jean dies from pneumonia and two of the Glee club kids (both who have lost parents and whose surviving parents end up marrying each other, making them step-brothers) help her clean out  the nursing home room that had been hers for more than 30 years. They also plan Jean’s funeral. When they discover that Willy Wonka and The Chocolate Factory was Jean’s favorite movie that, according to Sue, “She would watch at least three times a week.”, they plan a service around that theme. When Sue walks into the funeral chapel, she is astounded by how many people showed up in tribute to her adored sister. At the front of the chapel were props that looked like they came straight from the movie.   No oompa loompas in sight though.  The New Directions choir then sings the song Pure Imagination as a video of Sue and Jean plays. A sense of redemption, softening and forgiveness occurs. A Course in Miracles says”  “The holiest place on Earth is where an ancient hatred has become a present love.” Clearly, the melting of Sue’s frozen heart is the beginning of that love. 

What was especially cool for me, was that this is the song that is my cell phone ring tone. When I think about the genius and the literal pure imagination that goes into creating such a quality show, I am astounded. It has something for everyone and the ways in which it celebrates diversity and isn’t shy about confronting the controversial topics is to be admired. 

So sit back and have a listen and allow your own pure imagination to flow forth~

Pure Imagination

Lyrics & Music by: Leslie Bricusse and Anthony Newley Written for the Film: Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory (1971)

Willy Wonka:
[Spoken]
Hold your breath
Make a wish
Count to three

[Sung]
Come with me
And you’ll be
In a world of
Pure imagination
Take a look
And you’ll see
Into your imagination

We’ll begin
With a spin
Traveling in
The world of my creation
What we’ll see
Will defy
Explanation

If you want to view paradise
Simply look around and view it
Anything you want to, do it
Wanta change the world?
There’s nothing
To it

There is no
Life I know
To compare with
Pure imagination
Living there
You’ll be free
If you truly wish to be

If you want to view paradise
Simply look around and view it
Anything you want to, do it
Wanta change the world?
There’s nothing
To it

There is no
Life I know
To compare with
Pure imagination
Living there
You’ll be free
If you truly
Wish to be

www.youtube.com/watch?v=Aq09ITXV3xo

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