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This popped up in my newsfeed today and sparked a fun memory from 2010 that I shared on Facebook, that I wanted to jot down here real quick to sort of bookmark my feelings right now, that I don’t have time to right about. (Phew!) I’ll try to get right on it so I don’t lose the mojo, but for now suffice to say… FESTIVAL MAGIC!!!!!

Oh my gosh, I’m buzzing! I haven’t been to a festival in 2 years and Building Man was a new one for me. It was one of the best, most magical festivals I have ever been to!¬†More on that later (hopefully).

Til ‘then, here’s a happy little nugget from my history with Marko, my magic festival man that I met 10 years ago at Burning Man, the artist who changed my life and continues to prove himself as one of my very favorite people, ever, for my whole life, period. ūüėČ

marko and me

Mexico with My Man Marko!

“Marko,” I scolded him over beers on the beach. “How am I supposed to find my Sugar Daddy when everyone looking at us thinks I already have?”

“Just tell them I’m your spiritual adviser,” he answered. “And tell him you have to have me by your side at all times, so I can get in on the travel, too.”

(That was a good idea. Maybe he is my spiritual adviser!)

I had just finished compiling the stories and content for “Notes from 1969” with Marko, so I took it a step further. (I always do.)

“You’re my spiritual adviser and I’m your personal biographer!”

That was a great trip. I love that man!

****
(In the photo, I have no eyebrows. I had just had a bad bout of trichotillomania. I don’t remember it, but through my life I can see a picture and tell you, “Oh. I had trichotillomania right around that time.” This was a bad one, above. I probably had big, missing chunks of eyelashes, too. Trichotillomania is so weird. I have a friend who has it so bad she creates enormous bald spots on her scalp and has to wear wigs! I’ve only ever pulled out my eyelashes and eyebrows, but that’s weird enough. It’s a nervous condition/ impulse control disorder kind of thing. It’s on a spectrum – My case is pretty mild compared to my friend, for example – and there’s a lot of shame associated with it. There are some celebrities that are open about it. Google it.)

****

Viva Mexico!

Drum Circle

My cousin recently moved to Elko, NV, and had the idea to start a drum circle. She asked me to help, so I brushed up on a few basic rhythms, packed my extensive collection of noise-makers, and drove west.

First, I detoured north, to visit family in Twin Falls, ID. This was an epic winter for the Rocky Mountain desert plateau, and Shoshone Falls is higher than it’s been in decades.
shoshone

Farmers have already¬†diverted massive amounts of water¬†to river-wide irrigation ditches all across¬†Magic Valley, and it’s¬†still roaring!

Impressive as Shoshone was,¬†I liked Cauldron Linn even better. You can walk right to the edge and dangle your feet over the river, which seems to boil as it crashes over rocks, and narrows into steep igneous canyon walls downstream. It’s deafening!
cauldron linn 3cauldron linn 4

The drum circle was small, but it went about as well as it could have, I think. I left feeling festy-buzzed, and the drive home was familiar and sweet. It’s the road that took me to and from Burning Man a lifetime ago. I’m going back this summer, for the first time in 7 years! It’s the 10-year anniversary of my virgin burn, and I can’t begin to quantify how different a person I am today, largely because of that strange thing that happens every year in the desert. It’ll be interesting to go back after so long away.
drumsOnly 5 people joined us at the Peace Park in Elko, but I was thrilled. My biggest fear was that someONE would show up. (That would be worse than none!) They all arrived¬†within 15 minutes of each other, and we banged around for an hour-and-a-half straight. We got one groove going that was pretty darn meditative. Each drum’s voice met my ear like a conversation.¬†It was joyful and trancey, and that, my friends, is a drum circle!

Best part?¬†I realized I’d never seen my drums in the sunlight! I started this project last fall and my drums, like me, spent winter indoors. They are so beautiful!

I’m so lucky. Blessed, I think. I got to play at something risk-free that’s given me pleasure, respite, laughter, music, and a sense of accomplishment. I wouldn’t have done it if it cost me anything; the risk of failure is more frightening when you put money on it, in the view of a Taurus and a girl with a frail ego. A loving universe put me in the path of this wonderful, wild, generous artist. Marko and I met at Burning Man in 2007. We camped together the next year, and have been inseparable ever since.

Those drums are the thing I’m most proud of. Even without the positive feedback, they give me so much. They make my heart sing. Thank you, Marko!

brc '08

Black Rock City, 2008

(I can tell you one thing that’s changed in 10 years. People ask me now, “What’s your relationship with Marko?” These are the same people we’ve partied with for a decade, and now I seem age-appropriate for a man who’s older than my father?

Oy! The 40s are for humility.)

drumming-on-the-wall

Oh, I lie. I did see my drum in the sun at last year’s March for Love in November, after the thing happened. It was a different experience to see them in the hands of others, with a little distance and perspective and, as I mentioned, drenched in all that delicious light.

Dancing Cranes

I started painting 6 months ago… and I’m now in my favorite store! Marko added me to his stock at Dancing Cranes Imports. This gorgeous world market has a giant koi pond at its center, a vegan cafe, a performance and workshop arena, as well as massage therapists, tarot readers, reiki practicioners, and so on. It’s eye candy for original, artistic, global fare. Here’s my corner!
dancing cranes

Two More Drums

Marko¬†has encouraged me to tell the story of each drum. I try to stuff them full of prayerful intent, and keep my thoughts focused on joy and harmony. What I’ve found, however, is that the mind wanders, and all of my buried bits come out to play. Since November, I’ve struggled with anger, hopelessness, and hostility. Injuries from child- to adulthood come to the fore and haunt me. I catch myself hashing out all my hurts. (I also got a hideous flu. My boyfriend and I fought over who took worse care of whom. Everything hurt, even my feelings.)

At first, I avoided painting, not wanting to taint the drum’s energy with mine, but I decided it could be a safe place to confront my shadow self and talk honestly with it. I felt raw and authentic and brave. I ended up forgiving quite a bit of myself, accepting my weak parts, and feeling a tremendous amount of peace and accomplishment. When that happened, I was flooded with warm, gooey thoughts and emotions, and LOVE for [almost] everyone! ¬†It worked!

In the end, I grew to love this drum for the confrontation and healing it brought. I think it’s courageous and strong, and beautiful! And it seems poetic that I finished it on the last day of the year. 2016 has been a punch in the face. I feel challenged to look directly at my flaws and fears, then move forward with enthusiasm and optimism (and an eagle eye!). drum-7
12″ hand drum on wood frame
(with rawhide lacing) plus mallet
$200
Dec. 31, 2016

(Before it was painted, this drum sang through 4 powerful sessions of a women’s sweat lodge on Nov. 26. Our focus was on blessing the water and the warriors at Standing Rock, but we cried and prayed for world leaders to care for the planet, in general, and counter the damage our President-elect might do.)

(This particular wood frame was thin and flexible, and the drum dried into a wonky, oblong shape, which seems very fitting for 2016. )

****
drum-6
12″ hand drum on wood frame
(with rawhide lacing) plus mallet
$200
Dec. 21, 2016

After a couple of minutes painting, I pictured myself drumming with a friend¬†who runs a “sound bath,” when this drum introduced itself. I started giggling. This drum makes my belly tickle! I think it shows, with her¬†bright flower center and vibrant colors. She looks like Happy. In my mind, I watched the person receiving the sound bath start to smile, then blush, and try to stifle a laugh. With energy work, we often take ourselves very seriously, but the man got the giggles! And so did I. I laughed out loud painting this drum. I love its playful energy. This drum is for dancing!

[SOLD! In February or March 2017, to an artist friend of Marko’s. In fact, I was going to ask him¬†to give it back, to keep as one of my own. I’m thrilled that she sings to someone else who loves her. I can make another. ūüėČ ]

Sweat Lodge

I was so gratified to meet the woman I wrote about last week. I had failed at Thanksgiving not to respond to the hate-mongering chatter that accompanies every family gathering, and I felt it: Failure.

Meeting hostility with anger is useless and stupid, but what the hell am I supposed to do? I asked politely. I teased. I asked again. I got mad.

This woman explained the difference between suffering in complicit silence, and going within to meet hatred with love. I’ve been trying for 15 minutes to capture the epiphany I had in a 2-minute conversation, but it was almost funny how simple it seemed.

Of course, the practice of it will be a different story, marked by many failings, to be sure, but it moved from theoretical and seemingly-impossible to entirely practical and doable. There’s a huge difference between angrily holding one’s tongue, and actively holding a space of “non-duality,” she called it. The silence of love is not the silence of restraint. That’s a game-changer for me!

I talk about energy all the time. Everyone knows what it is to walk in a room and feel it. The silence she described isn’t passive at all. It’s energized!¬†It’s silly now that it seemed such a unattainable concept, when, really, it’s a straight-forward product of choice and action. It can’t be mistaken for tacit approval.

Suddenly, my need to act as standard bearer seemed silly, too. It’s not as if my family doesn’t know me. If any of my nieces or nephews is different, in any way, they know there’s a safe place for them.¬†I don’t need to do that anymore.

I’m ready to graduate!

It does hurt that I don’t matter in my family. At best, I’m a joke. My point of view is the minority, so it’s dismissed. No one cares that that¬†hurts me. They know. They continue.

And I’m strong enough.

“I will love, even here. How can I love, even here?” I trust Spirit to answer, if I truly commit to trying a new way, and¬†I’m ready.

(Whoa! I just got really scared again!)

I AM READY.
non-duality

****

I brought a new, blank drum inside the lodge, which was borrowed by a leader and praised by her for its tone. That felt great! It was plenty soggy and bleak-sounding by the end of 4 long rounds, but bounced right back in the cold night air.

[I also made a killer leftover-turkey casserole for the pot luck following the lodge. It went like gangbusters! Jax is teaching me how to cook. We take Mormon comfort food Рprimarily based on Cream of Chicken Soup Рand turn it out! This dish contained organic, home-grown tomato puree and chili powder. And cheese. Lots of cheese.]

My personal drum stayed out on the altar by the fire, to soak up and sing with our prayers and come home to bless me when I dance and meditate. So far, it’s attended a Love Rally and this prayer for Standing Rock, for water, the earth, and all of us. I love my drum!

Here’s my most recent. (So much detail is missing in this grainy shot!)drum-5
13″ on wood frame with mallet
$200
Nov. 23, 2016

I have a few more color incarnations to realize before I’m finished with this design, and more drums than I can paint right now (including 2 with rawhide lacing).

****

This was the first lodge that I didn’t really go into a trance-like state. Usually, when the heat starts to rise, I’m transported to the plains in a covered wagon. I don’t know that any of my ancestors came across in a covered wagon, but that imagery is powerful for Mormons, and it would be a no-brainer for my ancestors to get my attention in that way, to signal very clearly who it was I was feeling. The first time it happened was one of the most alarming and powerful visions I’ve ever experienced. I saw the faces of the Native people my ancestors would have encountered, and recognized that they were the brown-skinned ancestors of the the people I was praying with! Then, “Oh my god, they call the stones ‘The Ancestors.’ Our ancestors are here!” It was overwhelming.

I try not to expect repeat performances of my experiences. I try to be in the now, and learn what new thing is available from each event. But it was hard not to hope for that impression again when I went to my second lodge. And they came. Again and again and again. It was the same wagon journey into Spirit at every lodge, except this one.

Abigail, my favorite pioneer ancestor, did pop to mind in the 3rd round. I smiled. I love her. I thanked her for being with me since we “met” when I was ten, and then I had a thought of Sarah, who doesn’t come to me often. I don’t feel her strongly, but I have had a sense of her quiet, and it would make sense for me not to get it. What’s quiet? I truly don’t understand quiet. In fact, quiet people scare me. I think they hate me.

But Sarah did come to mind, and I had the thought to pray around her voice. “Please come as a signal for when it’s appropriate to act differently. Help me discern between the time to speak and the time to turn inward and LOVE, even here. Come in when it’s time for me to honor the place of neither right nor wrong, and just love, fiercely, quietly.”

I’m excited to see if I recognize her as I begin to practice non-duality. I think I might. I have recognized her energy. It’s harder, but she has a distinct feeling, and I’m excited to imagine I might a foster a relationship with her. Especially if it leads to healing. Especially for my mother’s family. Sarah is my mother’s family.

not-the-end

Not The End, by Julie Rogers, depicts my ancestor, Sarah Ann, on one of her 32 crossings of the icy North Platte River to carry Saints to safety.

Tell My Story gives a detailed account of this episode of the Martin Handcart Company’s ill-fated journey to Salt Lake City. I’m really proud of Sarah. Scroll down and enjoy!

My Drums Went To Their First Show!

grateful-goddess markos-and-my-drums

my-first-showNone of mine sold this time, but they will!!!

Even better, here’s my latest and greatest. It’s 13″ on a wood frame – huge difference in sound integrity and just… overall goodness. Plastic/petroleum sucks – and I really nailed the color relationships this time. I love it so much, Marko told me it should be mine. Secretly, I think he just loves me and wants to watch me play and laugh and be happy. It’s something we can share and love together. For 8 years, he’s been begging me to involve myself somehow in his art, by giving me chance after chance to create my place in his studio. I’ve dabbled, but I’m lazy and it didn’t connect until I finally decided to hand-paint mandalas on his drums. Marko advised me not to part with this for less than $200, but I don’t think I’ll let it go at all. It has such beautiful tone and color!latest-and-greatest

Speaking of stepping into my creativity and honoring the opportunities in my life, I’m recommitting here and now to sticking with the didgeridoo until and after I master circular breathing already! (Marko has also given me hundreds of dollars worth of didgeridoos and didge-boxes. Hell, he even paid me for awhile just to ship them, but I didn’t check my emails enough to keep the job!)

The Original Didjbox¬†original-didgeFollow the¬†link to Marko’s online shop, to see his original patented design. He’s the first in 400,000 years to alter the aboriginal instrument, and once he invented the didgebox it was immediately incorporated into designs all over the world, by individual craftsmen and artists, as well as by companies that make a killing off of his design. (A U.S. patent means nothing in the¬†global community, but it still proves Marko’s place in the world of music and innovation.) You can make the most amazing works of art now that are functioning didgeridoos, because of Marko’s invention at their core. If you’re into didge, you know his name.

Here we are at Burning Man in 2008, with one of his hand-crafted leather didgeridoos. marko-and-me

Utah’s Didgeridoo Maker¬†Here’s a link to the online article about Marko that appeared in Utah Stories. Ironically, I’d been pitching the idea for months to the owner of the urban rag mag before he stole my [unrelated] article, printed it verbatim, and didn’t pay me. Our relationship had begun to erode, because as much as I loved the content and angle he presented of my beloved city, the man can’t edit for shit. With his permission, and a pittance of pay, I was doing it. His ego is so big, however, that he continually corrected my corrections, incorrectly. After about 3 months of this, he realized he’d never given me credit in the staff bio as editor. I begged him not to, and finally had to confess why. I tried to be tactful, congratulating him on what he’d created, but reminding him to stick to his strengths and delegate to others what their talents can serve. He was offended and took back the article I was currently writing, then published it completely, unaltered, with one paragraph added, crediting (and presumably paying) the author of that paragraph.

He sent another writer to feature Marko in the very next issue. What a baby! He showed me! But it’s a great article. I like Al Sachrov, who wrote it, and I’m very proud of My Man Marko, Utah’s Didgeridoo Maker.
marko

Drum Shame

I promised myself I wouldn’t have drum shame at Camp Merveilles just because my drum is not a djembe, and a first attempt, and not like the others, etc. Well, I knew I’d have drum shame, but I coached myself to show up anyway, as myself, authentic, misfitting, and courageous. But the sound is shameful! It was tinny, shrill, glaring, awful! So I gave it a good whack to loosen it up and the tone¬†bottomed out. Now I have to try to tighten it again, not knowing how, really,¬†and not knowing if i’ll ever get to a good tone. Is it simply an inferior drum? I could rent a drum for¬†only $10/day, but why? I really really really want to play my own drum! THIS drum. That my dear friend and I made. I know it sounds like a stupid problem, but I’m stressed about it. And it’s stomping a nerve that was ripped right outta me and obliterated during 3 of 4 legs of the trip I have yet to write about. *sigh*

I’m usually pretty good at not borrowing trouble. Raw nerve ‘n’ all…

I’ll be fine. Marko will help me tighten this thing. This time, I will learn how to move to the next row after finishing a round, so that when I need to make adjustments in the future I won’t feel stupid and useless. This feeling of failure does not belong to my drum. It’s all mine. It belongs to my insecurities and how I process fear.

I made a drum, dammit! I’m proud of that!

Am I really doing this?

Am I really doing this?

measuring the new hide

measuring the new hide

Diamond [in the rough] Stitch

Diamond [in the rough] Stitch