I know, I don’t really have to explain why I haven’t been here. But I want to, for documentation purposes, if nothing else. Maybe some of you actually wonder.
May 2010: The main activity in my life this month was my Croning. Fifty friends enjoyed the afternoon at my place on the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend. One thing that was really special was that I brought together people from all the various groups I’m involved with, men and women, gay and straight — and it worked! (It gives me hope for humanity . . . ). We had a circle where Emmy officiated, Yasemin anointed me, and Janice placed a crown on my head, officially declaring me a Crone, or wise elder woman. I had turned 60 in February yet wanted to throw a big celebration in the spring. I bought a chocolate-raspberry cake from Servati’s. The meal was a potluck. I hired the Troubadours of Divine Bliss to play blissful music on my deck. Much love and laughter that day!
The summer is kind of a blur, actually. OK, I just checked my calendar (how embarrassing):
I was very involved chanting, meditating, and being in leadership with my local Siddha Yoga group. Also went regularly to hatha yoga classes.
I seemed to eat out a lot with friends!
I taught another online class through Catherine of Siena Virtual College — the best group yet of wonderfully talented women from The Philippines, Kenya, Vancouver, and the U.S.
I got more training on the harmonium for live chanting at the meditation center.
I began writing for pay for Natural Awakenings magazine!
And, of course, editing The Book.
The Book is a book Maria Motch and I wrote (and she took incredible photos) about our 2008 trip to Varanasi, India. We are calling it Goddesses on the Ganges: Pilgrimage to Varanasi, India.
It is now in the layout phase and should be published-on-demand early this fall! Plus, we got a grant from Women’s Way, thanks to the vision of Bev Bowers. It’s all very exciting!
So, as you can see, I wasn’t just lying on a hammock all summer long. Though that’d be just fine, too.
Posted in books I've read and loved, my writing life, summer
Tagged Bev Bowers, Catherine of Siena Virtual College, Goddesses on the Ganges, India, Maria Motch, Natural Awakenings, Siddha Yoga, Troubadours of Divine Bliss, Varanasi, Womens Way
“Remember for just one minute of the day, it would be best to try looking upon yourself more as God does, for She knows your true royal nature.”
This quote from Hafiz is one that could be permanently taped on my forehead; but then I’d have to rely on the mirror of other people to tell me this. Tonight I experienced the Troubadours of Divine Bliss in a more ‘real’ way. I took my laptop to College Hill Coffee Company since I had to finish the lesson plan for the online class first thing tomorrow. I heard several new songs from the Troubadours and got hugs during the break.
It was afterwards, though, that it got real. I got to talk to Renee Ananda more than usual. Guessed her for an air sign, discovered she’s a Gemini. Asked if I could help them pack up the cables and the instruments. “No,” she replied, “You can just talk to me.” It was relaxing and fun. I got to know Randy the mandolin player, too. He shares a love of kirtan and is one of the mellowest Leos I’ve ever met. Aim Me asked how I was doing and heard my concern about the 87 year old in my life with bladder cancer (Mr. G). It wasn’t the conversations so much, the literal words, but the listening and the love.
So when they sang a song inspired by Rumi, one thing led to another and, with the internet at my lap, I turned to the lesser known Hafiz who I’ve come to admire. I hadn’t run across this quote, though. One of those bliss moments that arrive when you least expect it.
Yeah, I needed that reminder.
If it seems I write about the Troubadours of Divine Bliss every time I hear them in concert, it’s true. Of course, I’ve only heard them three times and tonight was the third. My friendly ex Janice and I went to York Street Cafe to hear Aim Me, Renee Ananda and ‘Mando’ Rando play a few sets to a sparse crowd.
You don’t know what you’re missing or you’d have been there.
I love them! They spread joy and make you feel good about life. They’ve got great harmonies — and did I mention there’s wonderful mandolin playing by Randy who just had a birthday?
During one of their songs, it hit me. I figured out the missing piece that would make my croning complete — the Troubadours themselves. I will hire them to play their music and spread bliss as my gift to my friends. I figured this would be way too much information to discuss after the show so I wrote a note to Aim Me. Meanwhile, I hadn’t even gotten to talk or get a hug from Renee Ananda all evening so I followed her and started blurting it all out. I said “I hope you don’t think I’m stalking you!” and she replied something to the effect, “Oh, stalk us; we love being stalked.”
They can’t believe I’m 60 and, well, neither can I. Actually, I’m still a mere 59. But I figure 60 is a great age for a Croning: I will be honored as a wise elder in a circle of loved ones. Although my birthday is in February, that’s a crappy month to be outside (I’m not a skier) but, by May, flowers are blooming and everything has come alive. And, if everything works out according to the plan born during their concert tonight, it will be a great celebration!
I met up with some friends at the Dilly Deli in Mariemont last Thursday. We had some great conversation but there was a reason I gathered us there: the Troubadours of Divine Bliss were playing!
Aime Me (acoustic guitar) and Renee (accordion) are two of the most talented women and musicians I’ve heard — and I’ve heard many over the decades. They are also very, very special people. I could tell this from the first time I heard them at College Hill Coffee Co. back in May [see May 31st blog post for details].
How can I tell they are special human beings? From the way they interacted with me right from the beginning. They look you in the eye and listen. They empathize. They laugh. They enjoy the conversation and interaction with you. It’s not just about being kind to a fan; it’s communicating on a deeper level.
When I went over to say goodbye after their concert at Dilly Deli, I joked about being their Cincinnati manager. “Volunteer!” I quickly added. Aim Me had a sparkle in her eyes. She gave me a name I felt I’d been searching for for some time: ambassador of bliss. She said she’d have to give me an ambassador of bliss badge. These two are about bliss. On their website and cd covers, they quote Rumi and Hafiz. These bliss masters remind us of what Life is Really About: love and well, bliss. For me, bliss is Oneness, bliss is being open to others and accepting them for who they are. Bliss is radiating your inner self and living your spirituality.
I felt such a connection with Aim Me in particular. I said “See you in September” and turned to go. I can’t remember now quite how it played out but somehow, Aim Me made a motion and I went back and we hugged again. We have a connection and it’s not just some groupie crush. She knows I genuinely love them and their music. I love how I feel in their presence. This is raising the spirit in a blissful way. I am glad to be an ambassador of bliss with and for The Troubadours.
Posted in bliss, gratitude, music, women, famous
Tagged bliss, College Hill Coffee Co., Dilly Deli, Hafiz, Rumi, Troubadours of Divine Bliss, women musicians
I thought it’d be nice to go to College Hill Coffee Company and hear the Troubadours of Divine Bliss. I’d heard of them and checked out their MySpace page two years ago. Didn’t go to the quaint neighborhood they were playing in back then, afraid I might run into a certain someone — but that’s a story for my memoir. So I felt I’d waited two years to hear them.
Little did I realize that by the time the evening was over I’d get a big hug from Aim Me, empathy from Renee, and two cds to treasure in my personal collection. Oh, and did I mention? bliss. Yes, they promote it in their name and in their concerts; for example, as a preface to their song “Dream to Wake,” Aim Me recommended people quit the jobs they hate and get out of relationships not working for them. The lyrics “I had to dream . . . So I could wake up . . . Wake up!” This was no ordinary band; ordinary bands don’t have the chutzpah to put both ‘Divine’ and ‘Bliss’ in their names. Most liner notes don’t include quotes from Rumi or Hafiz, either.
I first noticed the bumper sticker on Aim Me’s guitar: “Compassion is revolution.” Hmm, seem like kindred spirits to me, I mused. After eating, I moved into a comfortable chair with my decaf grog, thinking I’d listen then leave at the break. This was not to be: for I walked over to buy a cd and met the life force known as Aim Me. I asked her a couple of questions about the songs I liked and she recommended which cd — problem was, most were on the live album but one was on “Sacred Letters of Surrender.” I bought both. I told her I blogged every day and would write about them tonight. She gave me a hug and asked me to send it to them. It has taken hours to write this post because I keep getting distracted by their music or website or liner notes. What delight!
Their voices, their musical instruments? This is not your typical music review. That’s not what I set out to do. I write about what’s going on in my life or what’s on my mind or in my heart. The Troubadours of Divine Bliss are very special. I had sensed this from the beginning, first from their name and then the energy swirling about when I thought of going to hear them. It’s something I can’t explain but I felt meant to meet them.
Their MySpace page describes them as “Acoustic/Americana/Folk Rock.” They have the flavor of Indigo Girls but with a funkier, laid back style, well, troubadour like. Their lyrics can be soaring (“I’ve been circling 1,000 years”) and they can also sing the blues or country. I especially enjoyed a different version of “Over the Rainbow” [not written by them]. Aim Me Smiley plays acoustic guitar and has an incredibly versatile voice. Renee Ananda plays accordion, yes, accordion. Her voice is possibly contralto, at least the lowest alto I’ve ever heard in a woman. Rich like chocolate. At times, it gave me shivers. A mandolin player with them added a sweet bluegrass flavor to the set (Mando Rando Brewer).
I left with a smile on my face and popped a cd in my car cd player. I hardly remember the first five minutes of my drive. “Wild Darling” is so lush and intimate, it takes your breath away. With the violin and cello added it made a soundtrack of a film of your life: “The way we make love is the way we are with God.” Can you tell? I am smitten.