Saturday, September 27, 2008

Saturday's blog brought to you by the letter, "M" for Mandala

Purple Barbed Mandala

Purple mandala drawn with a Staedtler Triplus Fineliner marker

All mandalas were drawn in a Fabriano Classic Artist's Journal. Each is a meditation of sorts. I start, and typically don't stop until it's completed. You start at the center and work outwards, expressing yourself as you go.

Flowery Mandala

Blue mandala drawn with a Staedtler Triplus Fineliner marker

Mandala to pass time

This one was done while waiting for a phone call.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Handpainted Remo Buffalo Drum for Shamanic Journeying

Hand Painted Remo Buffalo Drum

This is a Remo Buffalo Drum. It's made of synthetic materials, and I painted the original designs with fabric paint purchased from a local hobby shop.

While frame drums are common in many cultures across the globe, the Buffalo Drum is typically used for ceremony and shamanic journeying by Native Americans.

Hand Painted Remo Buffalo Drum

Unlike a Celtic Bodhran or a Middle Eastern Frame Drum, the Buffalo Drum typically has some sort of support on the reverse side of the drum for it to be played (held) in one hand, while striking it with a padded drum beater in the other. You can play a buffalo drum with your hands, but they are usually played with a beater.

Handpainted Remo Buffalo Drum

I've used this drum at drum circles, and to be quite honest, it may just be a matter of personal preference, but it's got a pretty different tone that I'm not sure blends well with traditional drum circle instrumentation. It may have to do with the way the drum is constructed, because these Remo Buffalo Drums don't really allow for a lot of tonal variation- and in some ways, it's hard to make them sound musical. Sometimes I'll stand it upright on my lap, and strike it with one hand and hit the side of it with a cowbell beater so it's a mixture of thumps and knocks.

The lack of tonal variation makes them ideal for shamanic journeying. When inducing a journey by drumbeat, the drum is typically played at a very steady 80-120 beats per minute which alters the brain's alpha patterns and induces a dream like state for the journeys may take place.

Click here to learn more about Shamanic Drumming

Or take a look at Steven Ash's book on Sacred Drumming

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

How was I supposed to know that the Hollywood sign wasn't lit up at night?

The first time I visited Los Angeles, my friends Lisa and Steve took great lengths to take me to see the "Hollywood sign."

We didn't realize that it wouldn't be lit up at night.

Believe it or not, I'm actually quite close to it. I don't know where we were, or how we got there, but I was able to see it by moonlight.

When I went back a year later, I managed to make up for missing the photo op by having my friend snap this from outside the Kodak Theater in Hollywood. This was the same day that we went to see a revival of "Journey to the Center of the Earth" (The Pat Boone version) at Grauman's Egyptian Theatre.

Finally! Me and the Hollywood sign

Friday, September 12, 2008

It's soooooooo Friday.

Hand Mandala, originally uploaded by biffybeans.

It's Friday, it's raining and I'm tired. Still another 2 hours and until the work week is over.

It's been a screwy two weeks for me. Lots on my mind.

Visited the doctor on Wednesday, and if you don't know me, I'll tell you that I do everything in my power to stay out of the doc's office. I am a firm believer in holistic medicine, but in this case, I feared that it could be a situation that I couldn't handle so it was time to have things checked out. Hopefully it's just hormonal BS that women my age start to experience and nothing more. Several tests were performed, and have another one next week. Fingers crossed, "Everything gonna be allright."

Yesterday on my way home from work, I stop at the local Library book sale. I buy a few books and 4 very random CD's. Bad Company, Bete Midler, Creed, & Tracey Chapman. Then I drove home to find that my husband couldn't wait for me to get home and he had shredded open the Amazon box to pull out and start playing the new Metallica album. It pissed me off because I was the one that ordered it like, eight months ago and I wanted to listen to it first. Oh well. Whatever.

I noticed that two flies had gotten in the house but I didn't pay much attention to them. I also wasn't into listening to the CD right at that moment so I went upstairs and laid down on the bed for about half an hour. When I went back down, Jeff had fallen asleep on the couch and I was on the computer when I got buzzed by a fly.

Er. I really hate flies. I get up to find something to chase it down and kill it when I see the other one. But wait there's more - more flies... ERRR. Now I'm pissed.

I grab the nearest thing I can find, a copy of Tony Bourdain's Kitchen Confidential in one hand and Jeff Greenwald's Scratching the Surface in the other, (so sorry guys!) and get whacking. I grab the magnifying glass and confirm that these little bastards are ugh - get ready - flesh flies. (reddish eyes, cool silvery black checker board pattern on their backs - in case you really wanted to know.)

This happened to us before, about 10-12 years ago. Fly infestation overnight. Woken up by flies buzzing my head. The exterminator told me not to bother to use chemicals to kill them. That something most likely died in the wall or roof or whatever (there was no smell) and to just swat them until they were dead. And that's just what we did the first time, so that's what I've been doing this time as well. Except this time, I decided to pull out the heavy artillery and suck them up with the vacuum cleaner wand. I killed about 10-12 last night, and Jeff got another 4 this morning. Here's to hoping that we don't have any more when I get home. That's it's not all Amityville Horror with the flies and a pig named Jody. I had heard scratching in the walls a few weeks ago, and thought it may have been a mouse. Now I'm guessing said mouse went and up and died somewhere that's beyond our faculties to detect. (Meaning once again, there's no smell.)

I can't wait to go home and pour myself a nice glass of wine....

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

"There is something in everything...."

Mandala - There is something in Everything

I am a firm believer in "everything happens for a reason," even if it's not immediately apparent. I also believe that "there is something in everything," meaning that there is something to be learned or gained from any situation.

In my case, I've had good, bad, and seemingly trivial things happen over the course of my almost 40 years that have made me who I am today. There is one small incident that happened to me over 12 years ago that has radically affected my current life in a VERY positive way- but it didn't become immediately apparent for the first 9 years....

So when a certain something happens, I like to look back and reflect how I've arrived, because it helps you to understand how everything and everyone is connected. Once you start to see patterns, (good or bad,) you can see if you need to move more in one direction or away from another. You start to develop foresight. You learn how to protect yourself from making repeated mistakes, and you learn how to move in a direction that allows you to create a rewarding life.

Once in a while we get dealt a hand that seriously challenges us in many ways. Mentally, physically, spiritually, or financially, they can cause us pain and much suffering. When we are in the midst of one of these situations, it's not always easy to step outside of ourselves and see what we are supposed to learn, or what we are supposed take away from it. It's not usually until after a situation has passed that you can gain clarity through hindsight. But you need to take that hindsight and LEARN from it. And sadly, again, the reason for the hardship isn't always going to be apparent.

They key to this- and it's a tough one, is to not take the situation personally. If you wallow in self-pity, or if you suffer from needless guilt, you can't grow. You will ultimately end up shielding yourself from what you were supposed to learn, and limit your growth. The same can be said for people that insist on complaining all the time. They worry so much about how a situation is affecting them, but they don't use that energy into attempting to find a solution to the problem. Their complaints, worries, suffering, and guilt become like a protective wall around them that they keep adding to, rather than tearing it down and supporting themselves through positive energetic actions.

Just remember, no matter how much a situation sucks, there's always something to be taken away from it. Always. No action is ever wasted except for those you didn't take.

Friday, September 5, 2008

"Because nothing brings greater happiness in life than to serve a cause greater than yourself."

Happy colors

Last night while working on the computer, the TV was on in the other room and I caught a piece of John McCain's speech. This piece really moved me because I am a firm believer in taking action to change something rather than sitting back and complaining about it.

Too many people vent and complain, allowing it to fall on deaf ears. The key to change, is identifying the problem and then coming up with an idea of something YOU can do to make a difference. I have found that the quickest way to see change implemented is to either take your own action to fix it, or to offer suggestions to a person that can put the change into affect.

From John McCain's Acceptance Speech 09/04/08

"If you find faults with our country, make it a better one. If you're disappointed with the mistakes of government, join its ranks and work to correct them. Enlist in our Armed Forces. Become a teacher. Enter the ministry. Run for public office. Feed a hungry child. Teach an illiterate adult to read. Comfort the afflicted. Defend the rights of the oppressed. Our country will be the better, and you will be the happier. Because nothing brings greater happiness in life than to serve a cause greater than yourself."

The part that really hit home for me was "Because nothing brings greater happiness in life than to serve a cause greater than yourself."

So many people live according their own personal agenda. They work to better their own lives and they do nothing to give back. Can you imagine if every person, regardless of age, were to do one small thing to help another? A truly selfless act of kindness? Doing something with no motivation other than to lend a hand in making the world a slightly better place?

I try and do what I can, and I hope you will too.

Make a difference today!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Amy, please don't go....

I guess maybe I'm the last person on earth to learn about Amy Winehouse.

I'm not much for current music, and I don't read the gossip columns, so I only had a faint recollection of who she is. All I really knew was that she was a singer that had a drug problem and was often a subject of media attention.

So last Friday, I met a friend for dinner, and as she pulled up, I could hear this really cool 50's music coming from her car. Since my friend is a cool decade younger than me, I was impressed that she had an affinity for the old stuff, even if the artist wasn't immediately apparant to me. After dinner, I asked her what she had been listening to. Imagine my surprise when she told me it was Amy Winehouse. She happily loaned me her copy of "Back to the Black" and I listened to about half of it on the way home.

I need to quickly interject that while I have a VAST appreciation for all kinds of music - many genres spanning many decades, I really do not care for most female singers. The ones I seem to admire most are from a different generation- like Barbara Streisand, Bette Midler, Whitney Houston - they sing with so much emotion that I feel them connected to something so much larger than themselves.

Listening to Amy Winehouse, a 24 year old Britsh girl, I hear that. She's glorious. Each song on the album shows such range and versitility. She had a depth to her voice that just goes on and on.

Some of these songs literally give me goosebumps while listening to them. The break in "Back to the Black" - the part that goes. "Blaaaaaaaaaaack" just rips me up. I'm not exactly sure that I've ever been so affected by a song.

Hearing parts of "Tears Dry on Their Own" pull me right back to the 1970's, listening to oldies play on AM radio. It's THAT intense for me. "Me and Mr. Jones?" Oh my God. The arrangements on these songs are brilliant. I close my eyes and can smell the cigarette smoke in the air of an old dance hall - the smell of the leather booth - martini glass in hand.....

She's timeless. And this poor soul is a mess. I'm worried that she is going to die.

I hit the internet that night only to learn that Amy has extensive alcohol, drug and self abusive problems. I watched one live video after another where she was visibly under the influence of one substance or another. It was heartbreaking to me that this beautiful soul could be so....lost.

It's hard to understand why someone, anyone, doesn't reach out and help her. I have friends in the music industry, and to the best of my understanding, it's sometimes difficult for an artist to get anyone to be truthful to them. Since you are signing their paychecks, they aren't always going to give you the straight shit because they don't want to see their meal ticket end. So the artists get really distanced from reality. This can especially happen when popularity hits (seemingly) overnight.

I personally don't want this beautiful flower to wither and die so quickly. Amy's birthday is coming up on the 14th. Maybe for just a moment, we could all just say a little prayer for her survival and send some positive, healing energy her way.

God's already got a pretty awesome band. Let's see if we can keep Amy here with us for a good while longer.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

YDC Mandala - You are stronger than it....

Quotes from Jim Donovan - at his "Yoga of Drum and Chant" workshop at this year's Rhythm Renewal.

Jim teaches wonderful drumming workshops, but they are an even better means to self improvement through living in the moment. He's an excellent teacher with much to share. Some of you might be familiar with his old band, Rusted Root.

Website: Jim Donovan Music
MySpace: Jim Donovan on MySpace
YouTube: Jim Donovan on You Tube

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