on spinning for ecstatic dance austin ~ 8.16.2015 playlist

dear dancing souls, my deepest desire is that you enjoy these playlists as much as i love bearing witness to all that moves in you.

all love, liz

wave 1 ~

boundaries II | archetribe
uno | ludovico Einaudi
maya | benjy wertheimer & john de kadt
basique | little people
ney | bahramji feat. masti sufi safir
curried ripples | ganga giri
battle | beats antique
paradise circus | massive attack featuring hope sandoval
weightless | thievery corporation
hey diwani, hey diwana | the dum dum project
pushing on | oliver $ & jimi jules
electric avenue (white label bootleg mix) | eddie grant

wave 2 ~

vespers (light into light) | jeff johnson
rises in the east | kalya scintilla
rise up | karsh kale
here comes the sun | nina simone
bone dance (dancing tiger tribal trap remix) | deya dova
the drift | blackmill
storming new caprica | bear mccreary from battlestar galactica: season 3
roundtable rival | lindsey stirling
sunu | rising appalachia and the human experience
no diggity | chet faker
dance with ea | jean-félix lalanne
sun will set | zoë keating
closing prayers | omkara

on spinning for ecstatic dance austin ~ summer solstice & father’s day playlist

it was, as always, a great honor to hold space for my beloved tribe, ecstatic dance austin. your willingness to drop in so fully was nothing short of holy. thank you.

please enjoy this playlist from our dance on sunday, june 21st.

i hold you close to my heart.

all love, liz

wave 1 ~

opening the gates (LP version) | drala
maharata invocation | amoraea dreamseed
from silence | adam hurst
ooh child (alternate version) | beth orton
dubfire | adham shaikh
bodhi mandala (drumspyder remix) | desert dwellers
om shantih shantih | patthabhi jois and robert musso
deep hart | deep dive corp.
passion | 1 giant leap featuring michael franti
clan travelers | from nataraja: compiled by shiva rea
haka maori (federico palma remix) | frenk DJ & karmin shiff
bodyrock | moby

wave 2 ~

empty spaces | biomusique
the call | cantoma
the player’s hands | john de kadt
imidiwan ma tenam (feat. nels cline) | tinariwen
grandmother tree & the feathered serpent | deya dova
robo booty | opiuo
get low | dillon francis & DJ snake
water fountain | nikki nack
breathe together (pufumlani kunye) | the mothers
stromboli | rising appalachia
sutukung | organic grooves feat. muhamadou salieu suso
saraswati mata | daphne tse
hallelujah | jeff buckley

on beginning again

tomorrow is the day that i begin again. 

a new job.  returning to an environment that i know well and that i thought had not always served me.  yet i have found a deeper understanding of what it means to serve.  and be served.  being discerning about what i want to bring along in my box of personal belongings has been the call of the day.

it is the ending of something.  a time.  a time when i learned to sit with things. 

and feel. 

really feel. 

really feel the discomfort of discovery.  and in allowing the uncovering of the next stop, the next place of laying down all that i think i know in service of the greater truth, which is that there is a life that is living through me.  in spite of me.  because of me.

today is the time of reflection of the marking point of this precipice.  the milky grey space between the ending and the beginning. 

i have a teacher who says that ritual is habit made holy.  the habit of entering into the new thing blindly is no longer possible with me.  i always want to honor the transitions of where i have come from and where i am going.  setting intentions and taking time to reflect on the gifts of the chapter of my life that i’ve been living.  or that’s been living me. i thank my teacher for that specifically on this day, how he taught me about the beauty of living consciously, of staying awake to how a life tapestry is woven, exactly what it looks like and feels like to be in a life that you really want.

so much has happened during this time.

i laid down my sadness.  the default place where i had been living, the emotional weight that i had carried for decades that wasn’t mine.  i simply laid it down.

in an instant.

it started to happen in a sunroom in woodstock in a sweet little house where i retreated for my birthday, on the cool stone floor and the raindrops on the tin and fiberglass roof, realizing that i didn’t need or want the pomp and circumstance or the fire and brimstone.  i wanted simplicity.  from the simplicity came the light of my life shining through.  from the unplugging and me greeting my desire.  just me and me alone.  and the truth of my memories.  and the dropping of the judgment around the severity of my recollection of things, and what’s been burned into my brain and what hasn’t.  there’s been a lot of no-wonders.  full immersion into my experience converging into reality and no one telling me otherwise.  then there was the stepping out onto the precipice of stone in the catskills.  and oh.my.god.  and wow.  and the most expansive wonderment and surprise at how silly it is of me to think that i don’t want to live this life and feel my smallness underneath the canopy of the forgiving sky.  the fierce storm moving into my bones.  the righteousness of the clouds and how their movement showed me a new, fresh perspective in each moment.  and how safe i was in the very center of my fear with the plunge of forest below and solid rock holding me steadily on the side of the mountain.  it was there that my sadness got snuffed out.  a moment that will never, ever be taken from me.

there are little things that i hear sometimes that become so significant.  yesterday it was from my yoga teacher, a brilliant yogini who is nurturing in the humility about her place in things, standing up there and ushering in our experience.  yesterday she talked about carving out time for ourselves, to be fully present in that container, giving ourselves fully to what we would give others, talking to ourselves in the same loving way that we would want to be talked to.  it made me cry.  because i know how to do that now.

in the past 3 months i have learned about giving myself the very thing that i am most craving from someone else.  i know how to inspire myself.  i know how to tune into my emotions and self-soothe.  i know how to deeply connect inside and give myself what i need.  i know how to hold space for my judgments and my emotions and my reality.  i can reach this sacred space inside of myself of deep love and knowing of my own clear truth that i thought i could only find and quench in my relating with another.  not so.

my yoga teacher also talked about how our anxieties can be caused by the stimuli that we experience on a daily basis, and the energies of others, and how necessary it is to detach.  to unplug.  and recharge. 

just before my retreat into woodstock, i remember a crisp moment in a dance practice when i realized how much of my life i have spent fighting against the cards that were dealt for me and being with the struggle that can arise in creating a life of joy, ease, and confidence, when you’re paddling upstream against a current that is not working in your favor, trying to build a floor upon a foundation that is not strong.  and how many of us struggle in that same way, how many of us feel unworthy, how many of us lose ourselves in the process of loving others.  it was in that moment of recognition of suffering in the dance that i began that simple process of making the decision to stop going back, to stop living in the struggle of what wasn’t and create my life to be the way that i want it now.  i asked myself this question … can’t there come a time when there is what came before or what we were robbed of through cruelty, and then in an instant become the phoenix rising from the rubble with an awareness of yes, this is where i came from, but no, this is not the lens through which i am willing to see my life any longer?

eventually, we become tired of being tired.

and we make a decision.

during that same dance my teacher played a recording of a david whyte poem.  i wept through my skin and my body sobbed in the quiet companionship of a room full of dancers doing the same.  as i first heard it i thought of a love lost.  then i heard it again through a love found.  in my own heart.

and how we are all
waiting for that
abrupt waking,
and that calling,
and that moment we have to say yes,
except, it will
not come so grandly,
so biblically,
but more subtly
and intimately, in the
face of the one you know
you have to love.

so that when
we finally step out of the boat
toward them, we find
everything holds
us, and everything confirms
our courage, and if you wanted
to drown you could,
but you don’t,
because finally
after all this struggle
and all these years,
you don’t want to any more,
you’ve simply had enough
of drowning,
and you want to live and you
want to love, and you will
walk across any territory
and any darkness,
however fluid and however
dangerous, to take the
one hand you know
belongs in yours.

in that same dance, a dear sister said to me, “there’s always something to be angry about.”  and there is.

until there isn’t.

that was the beginning of my sadness being snuffed out.  the most beautiful darkness.

ever.

on unplugging in woodstock

i went on an amazing hike today.IMG_1251

as i walked into the woods i felt the presence of steven harper and his time honored tradition of bowing in and out of the forest. i felt the joy coming up through my legs as i remembered my vow of reverence, honoring the sacred. each time we step into the raw, naked presence of nature, even that which is protected and tamed enough by man to make trails to walk on, reverence is appropriate. steven taught me that about nature.

disturb her as little as possible, tread lightly, pay attention.

she will teach you things.

it felt so good to sweat in the woods, to hear my breath and feel my weariness. to have it be that my climb up the stone path surrounded by trees and moss and wildflowers and cracking slate, and babbling brooks and perfectly balanced stones and frogs and ponds and rainbows and butterflies and birds was how i was tending to my body. i related to the doggies and the sheer joy that they can’t possibly contain each time we go for a walk.

i paused on the way up, to step into the forest and listen and look. and take in the textures and shapes in the untouched world, the ungroomed, the untethered. yet it seemed that everything was exactly as it should have been. everything in its most perfect relationship.

 

 

the deserted building in the middle of the forest was mesmerizing. it was a secret garden. the structure was crumbling; the forest was growing up into it. there was a magnificence to its size and the mystery pulsing underneath of what it was before. there was a fireplace in the center that climbed the entire three stories, and then a spiral staircase that turned into itself and ended at nothing, dropping off into an untold story and a thousand gathered stories all at once.

 

IMG_1303

 

i find fascination in places where other people have been, remnants of existence of other human beings, expressing their ideas and dreams and loves in the form of actions that leave a mark, that reveal the quality of coexistence in time and space. it feels to me like we gift each other with the parts of ourselves that we leave behind. the way that we decorate something, or arrange something just so, or leave our footprint in the mud or the snow, or the way we leave nothing as a gesture of courtesy or apathy. the fact is that we leave a little bit of ourselves behind everywhere we go. and we take a little of our surroundings with us to share with the world.

if i could bottle the joy and exuberance and absolute wonder of life’s beauty in the moment that i took in the expanse of the catskills on the precipice of the hike, i would surely be the wealthiest woman alive.

so i will bottle it up inside my eyes, my cells, my skin, my heart, anywhere within the capsule of my being where i can store memories, where i can tuck them away to draw upon in times of great sorrow or hollow numbness or forgetting, and i will – surely be – the wealthiest woman alive.

i stood on that stone that overlooked the peaks and valleys of the forest, with lakes nestled into the breaks in the trees, and i felt like i was at the edge of the world. i couldn’t imagine anything more beautiful. it was a breathtaking surprise. i could feel my joy and deep comfort as i saw the layers of mountain range in the gaps in the trees on either side of me, and the history beneath me was palpable the longer i sat there. from one side of the expanse to the other the view was changing shape and form as the storm clouds blew into me. the temperature plummeted as i sat on the stone and all of the fears moved through me as quickly as the clouds moved in.

could the rock hold me?

was there a dark spirit within me that was going to catapult my body over the edge?

were the clouds going to bring a thunderstorm or demon or unexpected remembrance?

it was this practically indescribable sense of smallness in the best possible way. the cloud formation moving directly towards me with bone chilling force and enormity, as wide as my panoramic view could absorb, and the fear. there was nothing to do with it. no way to really label it or put a name to it.

 

IMG_1351

 

there was just sitting there. with the magnificence of nature. and feeling the wind move through all the layers of me, and sense my hips rooted to the earth, and the pure joy alive in my blood.

i was smiling.IMG_1412

i was smiling out.

i was smiling out into the space beyond me and the history beneath me, and those who would come after me to take in the magnificence of what was presented before me. as a gift. i found myself wanting to share with everyone who was coming up the path not to miss the view.

the truth is, we want to share things.

we want to be. together.

it has been a fascinating time of discovery to be unplugged, to trust that this road is the right road, and that i can ask the sweet woman in the lotus shop about where a cafe might be, and i can just wake up in the morning and decide what i want to do without having to scour the internet for the perfect place or predict the weather so that i am prepared. it’s been a skilled exercise in staying present.

i am certain that i need more of this.

it is that time of the day when day meets night. the locusts have stopped. in my ongoing investigation and bubbling curiosity about locusts and the rhyme or reason as to why they sing, in addition to sunshine i think it might have to do with barometric pressure. the air is heavy today. the crickets are beginning their symphony, the prelude to the cicadas echoing their evening conversations together. they don’t seem to be affected by much of anything. last night the rain came down in a steady pitter pat and it didn’t put one skip in their record.

it feels good to wonder. about things like this.

the combination of the rain and the breeze coming across my skin the way music does sometimes, and the singing cicadas that conjure up so many memories of home and summer nights, and laying in my canopy bed at night dreaming of who i would become.

there is just nowhere else to be but here.

this time has been so restful and i am grateful for the comfort of understanding what david whyte means by well-peopled solitude, and the sense of home in my bones. the grey asphalt and tree lined canopy and the small town feeling of knowing your own, that feels good.

i need to be burning more candles and writing my heart out more often.

unplugging.

and plugging in.

on hopelessness

i have this interesting relationship with hopelessness. i understand its powerful potential. and i don’t believe in it.

now this is not to say that life has not taken me to those precipices where i’ve peered over that jagged edge into the great abyss of what next and wondered if it might be easier to just call it a day. the mind plays its tricks. there is the where-i-am-now and the where-i-will-be-then, and in between those two points is a great mystery. sometimes that great mystery looks like a freshly paved asphalt path with a bright white dashed line down the middle heading into a lush canopy of trees with rays of sunshine beaming through. sometimes it’s dense fog or black smoke and i’m not sure that i can breathe in there or if i can protect myself from the creatures with fangs and claws that lie in wait.

then i look into the rearview mirror of my life, the perspective that makes the most sense, and i remember. i remember where i’ve been. i feel the breath of the panting creatures in the dark, and i smell the smoke in my hair, and i see the moonlight reflecting off of the stripe in the asphalt, and i recognize the pulse of faith and trust in my blood. i stand here grateful, embodied, present, whole. this is what i came here for, to fall in love with the messy, beautiful, profound, delicious, excruciating, intense, immense privilege of being alive.

each time my love for life wins.

my teacher, yogarupa rod stryker, loves to talk about souls, the infinite number of them floating like fireflies in that great mystery of which i speak, hoping for an entry point into human form. there are countless souls, he teaches us, and only a limited number of bodies, and the fact that we have made it, that our strength of purpose has brought us into this form, is nothing short of a miracle.

miraculous trumps hopeless.

yesterday i sat at the hospital bedside of a dear friend who recently attempted suicide. she is in ICU, freshly off a ventilator, battling pneumonia, and suffering from nervous tremors and severe depression. while she was unable to speak, we communicated through scribbles on a dry erase board, tears, and crooked smiles. no greater words were spoken though, than in the deep silence of when we looked so deeply into each others’ eyes that there was nothing but the raw truth of oneness in the space between. suffering. shame. embarrassment. anger. gratitude. beauty. love. all of it. in the space between.

ubuntu. i am because we are and since we are, therefore i am. i am you.

there was a time when a man i loved contracted tongue cancer. it was right in the thick of the financial crash of 2009 and 2010 when two of my clients had committed suicide and another had left his family and hightailed it to brazil, all because their material success was compromised. my partner was one of the purest souls i had ever met. never smoked. never drank. ate organic food, most of it grown in his back yard. took in birds with broken wings and protected his neighbors. heart of gold. he had 1/3 of his tongue removed and all of the lymph nodes on one side of his neck. he recovered in my home. every day for a month i stared straight into the face of death and wrestled with my anger and confusion about where god was in all of it. it made no logical sense to me that my dear one would suffer in this way when people were making the conscious choice to end their lives because of their enmeshment with material status. it was a precipice.

a mentor of mine at the time suggested that i begin to look for places where god is. not where god isn’t. my teacher erich schiffmann teaches about inviting spirit into the little things. which outfit to wear. whether to have an apple or a banana for breakfast. building a relationship and a sense of trust. i thought it was ample time to practice that one.

i was beginning my drive to work one morning and i implored god to show me which driving route to take. as i pulled up to a stop sign i turned to my right where there was an orange neon sign that advertised a missing dog. the sadness on the surface of my skin was prickly hot and easily stimulated. i took in the loss that the sign represented and kept on. at the next traffic light the clear direction was to turn right. my next turn after that revealed a dead dog in the middle of the street. i started to pound my steering wheel and sob into the space of whoever listens to screaming prayers, begging to understand why there was so.much.death. everywhere.

i was driving home that night and there it was. the orange neon sign. the missing dog. i pulled out my cell phone and called the number on the sign. i told the woman the story of the dead dog in the street by the firehouse, across from the starbucks, and could that be her baby. she wept. she texted me a picture. yes. i was the messenger of closure and relief, and the beginning of the healing that is the gift of grief.

suddenly i realized, i am not meant to understand within the timeframe that i demand it. there is an intelligence that is higher than me that has a plan, which includes my best interest and those of every human being. always. i am not meant to suffer. the invitation is to expand my capacity for all that arises in this life, to be a beacon for trust and faith.

and hope.

25 years after my mother committed suicide her best friend found me through my blog and told me the story of how she sat at my mother’s bedside when she was in a psych ward after having a nervous breakdown. my mother’s friend listened to my mother talk about her hopelessness, that she was sure she was going to lose her children if the courts found out that she was taking anti-depressant medication.

so she stopped taking it.

the story that i had carried on my back for all those years was that of my mother abandoning me because i wasn’t worth living for, when in fact it was the thought that she would lose her children that hijacked her desire to live.

this year i am 44 years old. on august 6th, i will turn 45. my mother ended her life at 44. this year has been one of ceremony and commemoration and getting clear on what i want to carry forward on my mother’s behalf. also of what i am no longer willing to carry forward.

on good friday of this year, my ex-husband stepped into a bathtub, put a gun in his mouth, and blew his brains out. i left our marriage 7 years ago after my mother came to me in a vision during a kundalini yoga class. she told me that i was headed down a path that was the same as hers, and that i was at a point where i could choose differently. when i learned of my ex-husband’s death, during this particular year of integrating all of the grief work that i have done around my mother’s death, i immediately dropped into prayer, sending him off with grace and light into the next phase of his journey, and expressing gratitude for my life. i felt the sweet release of understanding the precipice, and the moment of hopelessness, and the power of choice.

yesterday after i went to go see my friend in the hospital i stepped beyond the weight of the hospital doors to be greeted by a beautiful fountain. i walked up to its edge and closed my eyes, turned my face towards the sun and let myself be bathed in the delight of wanting to live. i listened to the water and felt the warmth on my face and the pull of gravity beneath my feet.

i am here.

on the way home from the hospital i stopped for some food. on my way out there was a paraplegic woman who was struggling to get in her car and asked me for help. she was sitting in the driver’s seat and her legs were extended out in front of her, on lock down, in spasm. she said, “if you can just help me bend my knees and get my legs under the steering wheel i’ll be just fine. i have great upper body mobility.” she was giggling in an oh-those-silly-legs kind of way, embodying the deepest state of surrender. once i had her settled she thanked me and wished me a beautiful weekend.

contrast is our greatest teacher.

i saw this quote last night by anais nin: “i must be a mermaid. i have no fear of depths and a great fear of shallow living.”

there simply is no place for hopelessness.

on dabbling

i had a realization today. i am a dabbler. this is not a bad thing.

usually.

until you want someone to take you seriously in a city where people don’t really know you. namely those who haven’t dabbled. because they just don’t get it. the value of dabbling is lost on them. furthermore they lump you into their internal category of flake, misfit, unstable, non-committal, unreliable, discontent, irresponsible. which is just not true.

well, except maybe the discontent part.

i read a little ditty about dharma the other day out of a fantastic book by stephen cope called “the great work of your life: a guide for the journey to your true calling”. stephen says, “the false self is a collection of ideas we have in our minds about who we should be {and} there is a quiet suffering of the false self: there develops a stilted relationship to work: mediocrity, lack of interest, lack of enthusiasm, lack of soul-connection to work.” yes.

enter discontent.

meander down the dabbling path with me for a moment, won’t you?

first stop, legal assistant. takeaways: city planning and zoning exists which informed my commercial title insurance dabbling {see fifth stop later.}; medical benefits are nothing to shake a stick at {drove my car into a ditch 2 months in, broke my back. oops.}; composing professional correspondence is an invaluable skill; and strong women with pretty handwriting can still be taken seriously in the business world.

second stop, commercial photographer. takeaways: my writing ability far outweighs my resume {i got the job by writing a poem.}; advertising has very little to do with art; my daddy was right ~ i do have a good eye {learned it from him.}; and when someone calls you talentless and replaceable, it’s time to go.

third stop, restaurant manager. takeaways: managing the people who were once your peers is next to impossible but it is one surefire way to earn respect; greek guys are not as great in bed as you might think; and don’t ever send one of your employees to deliver the call-in order from a guy that sounds a whole lot like john cusack {because it is john cusack.}.

fourth stop, legal assistant {again. see aforementioned takeaways. oh. and, don’t ever work for someone whose filing system is ruled by post-its.}.

fifth stop, commercial title insurance. thank you fascinating land research. thank you bo feagin for showing me what it feels like to be trusted, supported, believed in. thank you financial reward that brought me to the feet of my goals. thank you massaging of the left brain. thank you for pushing me beyond my limits so that i could reach for something better. something else. something more satisfying than discontent.

i do believe that what has been happening during all of this dabbling is that i have been doing my overachieving gold star best to avoid “a quiet suffering of the false self.” and rightfully so.

during my most recent dabble i found myself staring out the window of my office into a grove of live oak trees as these huge yellow swallowtail butterflies kept flying repeatedly into the glass. it was as if they forgot that they could simply fly the other way. i was in a state of … well … discontent. and numbness and quiet rage.

and a flesh-eating desire to have a continuum run across my life that does not stop where my profession begins. that everything is me.

i am at a crossroads now.

i feel like i am dangerously close to knowing who that “me” person actually is.

and that “a quiet suffering of the false self” is unacceptable.

judgment of dabbling be damned. bring on the continuum.