Hillary Makes HISTORY! An Ode to ALL Sisters through Time and Space

Tonight history will be made when Hillary Clinton becomes the first woman nominated to be President! I wish I could sit and watch this with my amazing mother who has stood against the status quo her whole life and paved the way for me and other women to get us to this momentous occasion. I've told the pant suit in the 4th grade.. I am just thrilled.
So I had this dream awhile back where the lyrics to my song "The Quest" came from and I think its apropro for tonight. In the dream I saw women of different centuries under a clear , shallow mountain lake in garb of their era. One in 19th century clothing rose out of the water, filling with light as she floated to me and with her eyes, beseeched me not to let centuries of women's pain and suffering be for nothing. Communicating with my eyes back I told her we would carry on their quest. She handed me a gold pocket watch to give to my daughter Liv and returned to the water where she and all of the other figures then disappeared.
Like many dreams this one haunted me until I wrote a song about it. They sometimes just won't leave me alone until I make it manifest in this world! In honor of all the sisters who came before my poem and song. On my upcoming CD"Roll the Dice"

The Quest
I see women in the water
Rise up and ask me "Dear daughter.."
Fill with light come to life
Float to me
Eyes speak asking to be set free.
Sisters rise up and ask
I am up to the task
And my daughter holds watch and keeps space
Sisters rise up and ask
All your suffering in the past
Be now laid to rest
I'll carry on your quest.
In woven dream world the torch is passed
Here all time and space flow
With such grace
Bowing to my ancestry means
You're free to rest in peace
Return now to
The eternal mystery
Mothers, daughters, sister for our brothers
Mothers, sisters daughters for our fathers
Mothers, daughters, lovers for our lovers
Mothers, daughters SISTERS FOR ONE ANOTHER
Rise up and ask
We are up to the task
And our daughters hold watch
And keep space
Sisters Rise up and ask
All your pain
In the past
Be now laid to rest
We'll carry on YOUR QUEST!

Walls Won't Do : My Observations from Living in a City Surrounded by a Wall

So may I speak about my personal experience with walls and fear of "the other"? I lived in Berlin for nearly 3 years when the wall surrounded our lives. I was a 20 YO rebellious wild American who stood in shock the first time I had to drive on the "transitstrecke" between W. Germany and my home in Berlin. Men in high black boots and long trench coats with Kalishnakovs strapped to their backs and dogs sniffing cars at the border were no longer the stuff of movies but real and scary.  I turned to my friend and said , "they don't really shoot do they?". My answer came the first week of residence there as two people were shot and one killed as they tried to leap the wall from East Berlin to the west for freedom. There is an entire museum at "Checkpoint Charlie" dedicated to the stories of successful and failed escape attempts.
During my first year there I went once to the east out of curiosity and took visitors over to assuage theirs. It was somehow a completely different world than just on the other side. Dark and polluted from the Trabants and horrible coal smoke. Coffee with fake sugar not a piece of fruit in site and the constant smell of "don't make a wrong move" or else. Despite horrible living conditions people were so friendly and begged us to come back with albums, oranges and Levis. Same thing in the coffee shops on the transitstrecke where I needed to show my passport to go buy the good vodka and people who lived there could not even enter that store. The haves and have nots. Clearly defined.
The USSR who controlled that area said the wall was built to "keep western influence out". In the span of the building of the wall, families were separated from one another for decades and many were shot trying to flee the conditions of post WWII poverty and destruction that while rebuilt fairly quickly in the west, remained ever present even in East Berlin which was the "shining city" and one of the few places Westerners were allowed to visit.
There were viewing stands placed along portions of the wall where you could look and see. I very quickly found it utterly disdainful to peer at people on the other side like they were somehow on display. Also, you could (and I think you still can) ride through the old UBahn stations that were like ghost towns and utterly disturbing reminders of the war and the people being held prisoners on the other side. I remember those Sundays where pensioners were allowed brief visits with their families on the other side and the tearful departures when visitation times were over.

There is so much more but I will stop here for now.  Needless to say I am INCREDIBLY disturbed by the influence Russia is trying to have on our election and the support some have for allowing them to have power over our nation by disregarding history.  Politics is as ugly a story as there is in human existence, always has been but we cannot let irrational fear take over and forget RECENT history.  The world is surely different in many ways from those years (1980-1983) but that is no excuse for letting fear of the other make us bow to hatred of whole groups of people because of their religion or race.  We see and hear about everything instantly now but there was terrorism back then too (The Red Army etc..) and yet? The man who many conservatives revere was President when the wall finally fell. Even Ronald Reagan knew what a bad idea walls like that are.
I sat in my Costa Mesa hospital room the day after my eldest son Max was born and wept tears of joy all day long. First for the gift of his precious soul coming into my life then later seeing that on THAT day November 9 1989 the Berlin Wall fell.  I wrote in his baby book that despite the many challenges of the world he was born on a day of real hope.  Many times during the course of my residency in Berlin we discussed and agreed that the wall would not come down in our lifetimes. As with MANY things I was thrilled to be wrong. Sometimes being wrong is such a wonderful thing.


So please. Please. Look to history as a guide in your choices this November. Look away from and undo as much of your training to focus on personality and see what policy ideas are being put forth and who was willing to listen to their opponent and include them. Who wants ALL Americans to be treated equally and given the right to life liberty and pursuit of happiness and who wants to further divide us? This is NOT about our tender feelings or just how things affect us. Long after the next President's term is over what happens in November will linger and have formed our entire planet. Look at each party's PLATFORM..because that is what will guide local state and federal representatives. If you made it this far thanks for reading one American's take on things. I saw what COULD be our future and I had to at least try to share. Peace and love y'all. And DAYAM I need to get back to Berlin!!

The Hanuman Chalisa- Community, Connection in Chant and Conversation

                Hanuman is popularly characterized as a servile, reverential character in most of the tellings of his myth.  As we dig deeply into his stories guided by the lines of the Hanuman Chalisa, we will consider him more as a deferential character who advances the ideas of community or “kula”, remembering throughout that we are all of the characters in the story!  

Argala Stotram-Gateway to the Goddess

I would LOVE to invite you all to a new Satsang in study of the Argala Stotram and Devimatmya at Studio Be on Thursday evenings from 7:30 to 8:15ish beginning March 10!! This is a drop in/donation community gathering, details below. We will meet directly after my Flow and Chant class (6-7:15).

Two years ago when Krishna Das's album "Kirtan Wallah" came out I was at the Neem Karoli Baba Ashram for the Hanuman Jayanti and got a copy of the CD there. On my way back from Taos, one song in particular just deeply embedded in my heart and I literally listened to that song for 4 or more hours with my shaker in hand as I drove back home with my heart utterly open from just having sat and chanted the Hanuman Chalisa with an amazing kula for nearly a day. That song was "Argala Stotram-Selected Verses" which he ends by blending the old Foreigner song "I Want to Know What Love Is" into the refrain of the stotram.

I just had to learn this "stotram" or hymn and started studying it with my Sanskrit teacher a few months ago. "Argala" means "bolt" and is recited along with a few other "angas" before one traditionally recites the Devimahatmya, the tales of the goddess Durga in the many forms that some of us know so well. It is the bolt to the gate which we lift to gain access to the "caritras" or chapters of her tales. We unhinge it and gain access to the beauty and power of reciting her names.

No experience necessary, come with whatever tools you want to immerse and sing and learn together. Please post questions or anything else in the comments here and see you soon! OM NAMASCANDIKAYAI!

Durgaa Suuktam From Chidambaram to Colorado


Sitting at Sri Rajasekara's home near the end of my month long pilgrimage to Southern India with Douglas Brooks, we were graciously gifted with lessons in chanting the Durgaa Suuktam. Sitting on the 37 hour trip home, I began the process of learning it by transliterating the devanagari (which is available to anyone by emailing me.) Upon my return I came with a hopeful smile and asked my Sanskrit teacher Marcia Solomon if we could work on it together.  Marcia guided me through the grammar and translation of the chant with her sweet patience and joy in studies that has enriched my life beyond all imagination.

I hiked the hills of Niwot where I live for about a month looking like a crazy lady with a paper in my hand and singing to the Rockies ahead, memorizing the chant and eventually teaching a 6 week class to a few ardent students.  It has been a practice powerful beyond belief and I hope that the rather rough version on my cd along with this incredible transliteration by Randy Carlson, my dear friend, avid student and Sanskrit sand box play mate guides you to unlocking its beauty and power as well.

I tried my best to stick to the proper "vedic" pronunciation and tune in the last track on the cd but had some fun with a more sing songy/dancy version   on the "Dancing Durga" track where the incredibly gifted Jim Roberts took several keyboards and rocked it. He recorded the whole cd for me and I am eternally grateful (to his wife Marie as well who put up with us being there so much!) "Did you see that monkey productions?" ..this is my new name for your studio Jim! BTW I don't claim any authority and only hope that I did "pretty good for an amateur." 

The playful album cover represents many of the scenes in the suuktam and my gifted daughter Liv Siegel created the artwork for it. 

Additional gratitude to Douglas Brooks, Vishali Varga, Jaganath Babu, Bharati and all on the Yoga Poonai Bus..and to all of the amazing people in Chidambaram and beyond who honored us with their gracious hospitality and so fully shared their knowledge. This cd would never have happened without this trip! I cannot wait to again find my feet on the warm stones of the Nataraja Temple and be humbled in the presence of Thillai Kali.



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