The Bliss Blog

The Bliss Blog

Come Out To Play

                                                                  

I was perusing Facebook this afternoon and a friend had downloaded a video by Canadian singer songwriter Justin Hines. Having never heard this young man’s lyric-driven Country sound, I was taken on a musical and visual ride as images of people who have overcome challenges were featured. I noticed a few shots of the performer himself, singing from his wheelchair. Hines was born with a genetic condition called Larsen Syndrome. From what I have read about him, it’s just another life thing happening, not a tragedy as some would see it. Perhaps it gives him a different perspective than it might otherwise, but it seems not be a central focus. He exudes courage for other reasons, as his premier performance was in front of 17,000 people at a Toronto Raptors game. How did he get that gig? When he was 14, he won a radio contest and the prize was singing the Canadian National Anthem.

Although Justin is from a much more recent generation, he was inspired by the same balladeers that I grew up listening to, including James Taylor, Willie Nelson, Cat Stevens, Jim Croce and Harry Chapin.

This prolific poet has two CD’s to his credit: Sides and Chasing Silver

Watch the video and allow inspiration to flow. Do you have the courage to come out and play?

youtu.be/PwoUM8ETFfk Courage: Come Out To Play

www.justinhines.com

www.justinhines.org

Sir Vent

 

I met Daniel Brouse a few years ago and found him to be a creative kindred spirit whose interests in drumming, music making and nature mirror my own. We have spent many hours in drumming circles, immersed in sound and rhythm.

How do you live your bliss? 

Though I don’t like the labeling… the closest words would probably be prayer or Kabbalah. That is to say, I communicate with Her (God) directly with the biggest *secret* being to listen (and minimizing my whining, begging and pleading.)

 

What would you call the work that you do in the world, since you are a multifaceted Renaissance Man?

Again, it’s hard to define… the simplest answer is for my work I attempt to be Her servant (aka Sir Vent). In my case, She enjoys exploiting my talents as a scribe, messenger (bugler) and quartermaster. I’ve entered into several contracts with Her. Early in my life, the deals had to do with my *Daniel The Dreamer* abilities. By the time I was 2 years-old, I had to learn to master my ability to dream. Between the ages of 2 and 13, my ability to see the future developed beyond my wildest dreams. During this period, I was under the impression that these dreams would not happen during my lifetime; however, it appears the future is now.
 

Has music long been a passion for you?

Yes. I started off more as a sound engineer and producer. All sorts-of experiments would entertain me. For example, I would take a part tape players and record players and create unique amplification techniques. Another example is the MixTape. To the best of my knowledge, I created the world’s first MixTape. By the time I was thirteen, everyone I knew demanded one of my MixTapes. By this time, I had started playing the piano, as well as, first trumpet in the marching band and orchestra. I also got a kick out of being Troop Bugler for the Boy Scouts of America. The later part of my teens found me picking up more instruments. Through the 1980’s, recording equipment became affordable for a poor boy like me. Getting sickened by the record industry, I launched my own record label in 1985 — Glistening Trail Records. By Christmas of 1994, we had had built our own Linux based webservers, created The Philadelphia Spirit Experiment publishing company and launched The Membrane Domain (http://membrane.com). Advertisers were recruited to support our altruism. Since that time, I have been helping thousands of artists, scientists and musicians get their message heard by our monthly audience of 360 million people.
 

Do you find that it has a way to express what words alone simply can’t?

Yes! One of the experiments I hold dearest to my heart is our work on a Universal language… things like using laughing, smiling, dancing and music to convey the message of love.

Who has your ear musically?

Besides Her? Ha… it’s hard to compete with that .I am in love with many bands and band members. At the moment, I’m working with at least 200 bands. It’s not so much about *talent* as it is about *heart and soul*; however, I’ve found the musicians who appear the most talented have acquired that asset from their spirit not their practice time. In fact, practice and discipline often rob the spirit from music (very similar to prayer and Kabbalah.)

How do your spiritual leanings guide your life and the ways in which you relate to the world?

It might help if I gave a *nutshell* version: While working for Her, I learned that humans are insisting on self-annihilation. She is very much against our plan to extinct humans. So, as silly as it may sound, my spiritual learnings have guided me to *try to save the world*.
Please speak about your writing that expresses itself in the form of poetry, songs and commentary pieces.

I am fairly shy and embarrassed about discussing this process, but I will try. When I am happiest with my writing, it is the purest of my scribing. While listening to Her, I scribble, type, make audio and video recordings, etc. The part I wrestle with the most has to do with Good and Evil. Publishing the messages about Good is the easy part. Publishing the messages about Evil ain’t so easy. My life and those of my family have been threatened. I have spent the last five years in civil and criminal court for telling the truth. Many people do not like hearing the truth. I’ve had seven separate hearings on my First Amendment Rights, been in jail and sent to the hospital on a couple of occasions. The Good News… we’ve won! In fact, it has inspired me to start publishing my autobiography.

The Philadelphia Spirit Experiment: http://membrane.com/welcome2.html

KingArthur.com: http://KingArthur.com

Partial discography for Daniel: http://membrane.com/blues.html

Some+experiments with artists I work with: http://membrane.com/domain_names.html

Truckin’

                                                            

I had written about my friend singer-songwriter Annabella Wood a.k.a. ‘Truck Driving Mama” when her song by that name had been released.  Her soul stirring music is heard at various interfaith communities of which she is a part; two among them Circle of Miracles and Common Ground Fellowship in the Philadelphia area.  Many of the tunes that so delight her audiences, first did so for her as she traveled the highways and byways of America as a long distance trucker.  The words and lyrics were her companions as Spirit dictated and she took notes (and chords:) Her wish to be a recording artist and professional musician has come to be in grand style and I love being in the audience, singing along and smiling in recognition of the empowering truth in the words she offers.

She is about to make a long time wish come true for an 82 year woman who a few years ago was not even on her radar screen. Annabella is teaming up with another friend of mine named Cass Forkin who is the founder and director of Twilight Wish Foundation in Doylestown, PA that grants wishes to seniors who would not have another way of making their dearest dreams come to be.

According to the description on Twilight Wish’s website: “Margarette is a young, vibrant 82 year-old with a passion for life.  Her wish is to ride in an 18-wheeler across the country.  Twilight Wish has paired up with truck driver Annabella Wood, who with her Pomeranian by her side, will make Margarette’s wish a reality by driving her cross country in her big rig.  AARP plans to ride along for part of the trip, filming the wish for their magazine and website. We have the route planned out with stops across the country in nursing homes and Twilight Wish regional chapters.  Corporate sponsorships are available. Call Cass at 215-230-8777 ext. 101 for information.

The trip sounds exciting and like it will be the adventure of a lifetime for both of them. I can imagine the sing-alongs that will occur and the stories they will share.  The trip will commence June 6th, with the send off  from the Dublin Star Diner in bucolic Dublin (Bucks County) PA. There will be a fundraiser breakfast at the diner that morning. We’re gettin’ this party started at 9:30am and the truck leaves at 11:00am. I will be there to join in the celebration for so many reasons.  The food there is diner cuisine at its finest, the spirited energy will be off the charts, and it is for a great cause!  I can visualize ithe rig rolling down Rte 313, with cheering and waving people surrounding it, Annabella and Margarette blowing kisses out the windows.

To have a vicarious experience of riding with Annabella, check out her video and to join the countdown to Margarette’s wish-come-true, come to  www.twilightwish.org

Truck Driving Mama video
www.annabellawood.com
Artist Profile
 

Upgrade

                                                                 

Writing this post as I am sitting in the terminal of the Ft. Lauderdale airport en route to Philadelphia after an end-of-an-era experience of, as one friend referred to it “dismantling my parents’ lives”.  My Dad died in 2008 and my Mom joined him this past November. Since that time, as the executor of her estate, I was tapped to handle her affairs which involved selling her car, her condo and a few other sundry and assorted details that I would have felt unprepared to handle 10 years ago. Can’t say that I have sailed through this, but with the help of angels (human and celestial), I am, as I shared with friends in a recent email, still “sane and vertical”. The closing date was scheduled and finalized this past week and I quickly gathered my wits and belongings and boarded a plane on Wednesday, cleaned and packed on Thursday with the essential and greatly appreciated assistance of my parents’ neighbors Dianne and Gary and their grandson Cody and went to closing today.  WHEW..whirlwind wonder.

On Wednesday, I pulled my car into the self park lot at the Philly airport, coupon in hand, only to find that there were no spaces. I was directed to the valet lot instead. I told the attendant that I anticipated paying the same thing I would have for parking there, since they had let me into the original lot when there was no room to accomodate my car. He told me, “Of course.”  Upgrade # 1.

Boarded the plane and took my window seat next to a 10-12 year old boy with a somber face. His father asked the man on the aisle seat if he would be willing to trade with him for the middle seat in the row ahead, so he could sit with his son. The man declined, so I offfered him my seat.  Comfortably ensconced, a short while later, the man next to me offered me a piece of gum and we struck up a conversation about our lives and why we were heading to the Sunshine State. When I told him my story and particularly (for those who have been following the Bliss Blog for the past several months) the butterflies that have been showing up since my mother died, as tangible proof for me that life beyond death exists, since she told me she would come back as a butterfly:), he said that following his mother in-law’s accidental death, his wife and sister in-law got butterfly tattoos. Upgrade # 2, since chances are, the little boy would not have been talking with me about that stuff.

Arrived in steamy South Florida, go to the car rental counter and the woman said “I would like to give you a free upgrade, since we are out of the economy car you ordered.”   Obviously stated Upgrade #3

On the way to the condo, I stopped at my mother’s favorite diner, called Lester’s where she and my Dad and their friends have spent many a Friday night pre-synagogue services. Her favorite waiter Jimmy; who she called her ‘boyfriend’ greeted me and seated me. I told him who my parents were and he smiled in recognition and served me with a smile and a consoling word about the reason for my presence in the restaurant at an hour that I would normally not be eating; but it had been an extremely looooong day without time for dinner. As I enjoyed the rivaling home-cooked meal, I mused about the significance of what I was there to do.

The next morning, my parents’ neighbor Dianne and I began what was to be a 10 hour event; packing, cleaning and preparing the condo to be sold today. It took a lot longer than I had anticipated, but she was seemingly tireless. Her grandson Cody helped tote the heavier stuff.  The movers rapidly scurried on through and within a few hours, the furniture and boxes bearing 50 some years of memory were in the truck, on their way Northward. The new owner’s agent informed me that they expected that ALL of the furniture would be out prior to closing; not our original agreement, but required at the last minute. Taking a deep breath, I asked for Divine Intervention. At that point, I received a call from a hospice volunteer who was coming over anyway to pick up supplies that they had forgotten in November, as well as wheel chair, walker and quad cane that we were donating. I asked about interest in some of the furniture and wonder of wonders, he took some of the smaller pieces. As I walked out to his pickup truck, I noticed an item hanging from his rearview mirror…a butterfly, of course:)

Then our realtor said she had two strong young friends who would be willing (for a blessedly small fee:) to haul the bigger pieces to the curb where miraculously, the development was having a bulk pick up day, which really translated to neighbors doing some high class ‘dumpster diving’.  By 10PM the entire condo was empty and I was alone with the vacuum cleaner and some wonderful memories, as I moved from room to room. I found one item while packing the kitchen that put a smile on my face. It was a Tupperware bowl with a spout that my parents would use to make pancakes.  I could almost smell the sweet sizzling of the golden batter on the pan, imagining watching the bubbles on the surface; the indication, as I was instructed, that I could flip over the never quite perfectly round, but more like amoeba shaped goodies. I discovered more love notes that my Dad had written to my Mom; with a certainty that their passionately devoted relationship continued beyond death.

Upgrade #4 since I had the satisfaction of knowing that some of the stuff was going to families on hospice who might otherwise not be able to afford what my parents had. My father was the consummate pack rat, so I’m sure he was glad that what he had collected could be ‘recycled’.

Closing on the condo went smoothly, far easier than I had anticipated and an hour later, I found myself feeling lighter having taken care of one more detail. I thanked the realtors with whom I had bonded in the remarkably few months between listing and sale. A cosmic coincidence…one of the realtors is named Karma…we got a good laugh about that one.

While I was driving away for one last time from the home my parents had infused with 20 years of love and friendship, service and sweetness, I was escorted by a few brightly colored butterflies.

On my flight home, I found myself sitting next to a woman around my age whose journey to Florida involved her aged mother as well. We bonded over those issues, our children, our South Jersey heritage, being at the right place and right time and yoga. I always anticipate and have wonderful inflight conversations.

I looked up the definition of the word ‘upgrade’ and one was ‘to raise to a higher grade or standard’ and another was to ‘trade up’.  As I release old, worn out ways of perceiving life and circumstances, I willing relinquish the hold they have on me and thus trade what I had for what I desire.

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