My friend Aspasia is a Columbia University undergraduate. She is 44. On brains and brawn alone she has returned to academia on scholarship, student loans, and Pell Grants. Now in her 2nd semester with sights set on a distant and achievable PHD, she, like mega-storm Sandy, is making waves. And while the extreme weather has been a major set-back this season, a greater threat to her education is Mitt Romney. If he is elected into office, her student loans and Pell Grants could vanish, leaving her incomplete and in debt. She doesn’t have parents to fall back on, which is Romney’s recommended alternative. Without loans, she would be forced to quit college, have massive debt over her head, and lack the degree she’d need to get the right job to pay it off. She and thousands of students are at risk if Romney is elected. This is yet another reason I’m casting my vote for Obama.
An amendment is being proposed to voters that will read: “Shall the Minnesota Constitution be amended to provide that only a union of one man and one woman shall be valid or recognized as a marriage in Minnesota? yes or no.” I pray the people’s answer is no.
If someone is against same-sex marriage, that person shouldn’t marry someone of the same sex. It’s that simple. If you live in MN, help get the vote out. Follow @MN4allfamilies and the website to help is http://www.mnunited.org/gotv.
Ohio, Missouri, Wisconsin, Virginia
It doesn’t take 1 person to change America. It takes 279. One leader with vision and values in The White House. 60 men and women who share that vision and can defeat a Filibuster in The United States Senate, and a majority 218 of the 435 members of the House of Representatives who can enact the legislation that the President wants.
Yes We Can Supporters in Ohio vote for Sharrod Brown. In Missouri, vote Claire McCaskill. In Wisconsin, we love Tammy Baldwin! and In Virginia, it’s Tim Kaine. If you don’t know about the Senators in your state, now’s a great time to Google them.
San Diego, CA
As a budding organic food farmer, I encourage people to shop at their local farmer’s markets to enjoy seasonal, home grown food. Buying local & organic not only supports your neighborhood economy, it’s also better for your body and better for the planet. On our ballot we welcome Prop 37 for proper food labeling. This is the right to know what’s in our food. Major food manufacturers don’t want to label their food, and in turn that hurts us local/organic farmers. We work hard to grow delicious all-natural foods while they spray chemicals on everything and genetically modify foods to make them look perfect. I am voting YES on PROP 37 because I think it would be great for everyone to see how much genetically modified (GM) food there is on the shelf, in hopes it would shift the general interest towards healthier, all natural foods. If GM food is so safe, why is there so much resistance from the major manufacturers to label it for us? Have you noticed how many more food allergies there are these days? http://www.carighttoknow.org/facts
This morning a storm cloud formed over my home and let out a thunderous crack, shaking the windows and dropping the last of this season’s avocados from the trees. San Diego gets plenty of overcast and seasonal drizzle, but seldom do we get thunder and lightning with huge downpours. The storm reminded me of my upbringing in Virginia. We’d get heated thunderstorms quite often; the kind that would lay large branches over power lines and rooftops; tempests. I recall them being quite violent, but I still miss them.
My arrival home last night was the finale to months of touring and the rain began to fall only minutes before pulling into the driveway. I considered the change in weather a request from the heavens; a trillion tiny droplets singing me to sleep. rest child. no need to wake up soon. dream new dreams. we’ll take care of you.
The last week of shows had been climactic, experiencing extraordinary highs and extreme lows within a few close breaths. There was no challenge I couldn’t overcome, but there were challenges nonetheless, largely having to do with strength to continue and finding ways to make our reoccurring show new again. At the end of the day I am so grateful to the audiences; those who make it easy for us to carry on. Your invitation and listenership practically pull the words from my lips, uplifting my spirit again and again, giving my life new direction, purpose, and reason to serve.
I dreamed last night of new songs to thunderous applause. I traveled farther than I’ve yet to and I felt myself taller and wiser; proof that we’ve still got a long way to grow.
I recently had the pleasure and privilege of doing yoga on a balcony overlooking the Columbia Gorge Canyon backstage at the Gorge Amphitheater in Washington State. For those who’ve never been there, imagine a little slice of the grand canyon with a stage built on a high side looking down into it.
The view was stunning and vast. Not a building in sight. Nor a sound. Only the wind and my thoughts.
During yoga, I befriended a fly. The sweat of my body must have been an alluring scent and/or satisfyingly fresh taste for the insect and by mid session there were two, dancing thorax to thorax on my body no matter which way I twisted, tucked, or tensed up. I tried blowing them away and wiggling my body to shake them off, but their persistence was only making my experience worse. So I accepted them. Welcome flies. Do your dance. Eat me. Poop on me. Whatever. I support you. Literally.
And once I gave in. It was as if they were no more. It was as simple as that. We connected, the flies and I. We became one I suppose. And suddenly my yoga practice felt all the more graceful and purposeful, because…
I began to think of other small annoyances that could potentially slow me down or give me an experience of a bad day. Like a bad hair day for example. or a hang nail. or a crusty booger. or a sore ass. a cramp. carpal tunnel. a stubbed toe. a headache. a zit. an itch. a cold sore. an ingrown hair. a paper cut. an ear ache. a tooth ache. a bee sting. a jammed finger. whatever it is, and there’s always something, there’s no shortage of inconveniences to keep our sweet lives from being absolutely serene.
And similar to those physical challenges, untimely thoughts can also be a buzz kill. Things like: I’m not there yet. I’m not smart enough. I can’t afford that. I can’t risk that. I’m not that type of person. That’ll never work. That’s too scary. I have no talent. I’m too old.
Consider each of those thoughts are just annoying little flies buzzing around our brains trying to challenge our grace and composure and ability to endure. Pursue your dreams knowing those flies will always find you delicious, and say thank you before continuing on your way, following your bliss and doing your own yoga, dance, or daydream, whatever that may be. The fly’s the limit.
Every time I roll up my sleeves to work with the incredible volunteers at our tree planting events, I learn something new, and I’m not just talking about deep root fertilization or how Peggy’s nail guy is running for Mayor. I continue to learn things about myself. I’ve begun to notice the best show days are the days I push the wheelbarrow around, dig a few holes, and earn a manly blister or two. There’s a lot to be said about getting off the tour bus and into somebody’s back yard. It’s not just a reality check, it’s good for your health.
To sing and travel is to occupy the air.
Planting trees and servicing them is to be grounded.
I created our Tree Project because I wanted to add more oxygen to the earth. What I didn’t calculate was all the extra oxygen I’d be getting to the lungs and brain, contributing to a calm demeanor, a profound sensation of freshness in all things, and the experience of loving life more than ever; Which, has led me to my new motto…
Get Dizzy Living.
Here’s a picture of the amazing Christina Perri with my dorky self planting a white oak tree in Minneapolis’ Midtown Greenway. We named the tree Judith and wished her a safe winter.
One of my foundation’s beneficiaries, SPARC (School Of Performing Arts in the Richmond Community) recently produced and directed LIVE ART, a 20-week educational program for students with and without special needs, culminating in a major public concert featuring children of all abilities and prominent Virginia musicians. I was an artistic adviser and appeared live with the ensemble at the final performance held in June, 2012 at Richmond’s beautiful Carpenter Theater.
Standing in the wings that evening awaiting my cues, I saw my life barely changed from when I was their age. It has always been my greatest joy to be onstage, in costume, a part of something bigger than I, for the simple act of entertaining, educating or inspiring others. I bowed to my inner child that night, for never growing up or burning out.
SPARC was my introduction to improvisation and performance 30 years ago. If I could credit a handful of people who turned on my light, I’d name them. LIVE ART carries the torch as an all-inclusive program, highlighting talent of every variety, giving many their first chance to shine onstage. Bravo to SPARC for continuing to transform lives, onstage and off.
Check out the Live Art Kickstarter Video and if inspired, send them your ray of sunshine to help reach their goal of releasing a documentary of the inaugural LIVE ART program. I feel the film will educate and enlighten other families and communities in creating projects of a similar compassionate nature.