For What It’s Worth, Leela Vox 2016cover

 

Wouldn’t it be great if this song were LESS relevant in the year 2016 than it was in 1967 when it was first recorded? Thanks Steve Postell for the spontaneous jam session and production. Days making art are days well spent. smile emoticon 

Thank you STEPHEN STILLS for writing such an amazing song.  What a legacy.

BTW… I’ve been told my performance here “needs more passion or urgency”, and I get it but I’m posting anyway.  This is where I was authentically “feeling” at the moment.  I’m feeling a lot in the studio, but sometimes it doesn’t translate.  Oh, well.  Next time.  I hope to cover this song MANY, MANY more times and explore and grow with it. =)  This session was unplanned or rehearsed, which I so enjoy….just going with the flow of THE MUSE.

With Love… Leela Vox… #ConsciousCountryGirl

#ConsciousCountryGirl Leela Vox on HB2

Hello World: April 1, 2016

Many of you who know me are aware that I come from a background with radio and some television. They are mediums that I enjoyed very much for a time, and I still appreciate the art and creative expression that I experience through media.

Now, I have fallen in love with podcasting, for so many reasons including its accessibility and the wide open space to simply explore thought and expression. My hope is that anything shared here might be a beneficial presence to someone, somewhere, anywhere.  As I mature, I realize that being of service brings more meaning to my life and the lives of those I’m meant to serve.

Here are links to the first two podcasts under the #ConsciousCountryGirl heading.  I hope they bring at least a little something to your day, just as you listening brings something special to mine.

Thanks for reading and listening.  And of course, please share either or both links if you feel inspired to do so.

xo – Leela

LINK #1 – 3/31/16 – My 9 minute, 20 second rant to NC Governor Pat McCrory.

LINK #2 -4/1/16 – My apology for TONE but NOT STANCE. That you go hello

 

Tango as a Metaphor for Life

Once upon a time, before the economic downturn, before the marriage, the divorce, the huge life changing move, the wandering in the career desert, the one woman show, the epic love affair, the devastating break-up, the rock bottom of grief, and the signs of recovery, I WAS a TANGO DANCER!

Last night, I remembered. Last night I danced. Last night a once lost part of my Spirit returned to rest in the void I created when, in the folly of youth, I abandoned my deep love of dancing. Thank you, Argentine Tango, for staying true while I strayed! Besos y abrazos to all of the dancers who keep Tango alive! May the art form continue as long as humans walk the earth! xoxoxo

Last night’s return to the dance reminded me of an OLD blog post from July 6th, 2008.  I thought I’d share a bit of it here.  Though much has changed, including some major life views and how I’m now choosing to move through the world, some things remain constant, including these early observations of Tango as a metaphor for life.

TANGO AS A METHAPHOR FOR LIFE

So many of the lessons I learn as a new Argentine Tango dancer translate into my life, which is why I say Argentine Tango is a Spiritual Practice for me, as I know it is for a growing group of my Tango friends.

To linger on past missteps is to make more missteps. If I stumble or cause discord with my partner, the ONLY way to recover and dance freely is to LET IT GO immediately.

What is past is gone.
To anticipate what is coming, breaks the connection.
To force my will blocks the flow.

Argentine Tango is a practice of being true to only the present moment. Since it is improvisational, I must listen intently to my partner, and to my own body, in the NOW.I have seen this time and time again with my life experiences. When I let myself wander away from present, and stop listening to my connection with my higher self, I make some kind of misstep, which causes a glitch in the flow of my life’s dance.  I sometimes feel a sense of melancholy when this happens.  It’s like having #ConsciousnessNarcolepsy.  The sadness comes from thoughts which often have nothing to do with the present moment.

In the deepest experience of being present, there is no pain. There is only the witness of what is unfolding right NOW.

Argentine Tango, and Life at it’s best, operates most effectively from the space of present moment mindfulness (and heart-fulness), letting go of attachment to what just happened, or what might happen, living fully present and intentionally in the now.

As a relatively new dancer, I have much to learn, which I see as a gift. How I embrace my limitations as a dancer is similar to how I embrace my level of development as a human being.

When I focus on the lack of experience and judge myself, I suffer. But when I graciously embrace the process of my present state of being, I give myself fully as an offering of to the dance, which can only be a service to my partner, the dance, and Life itself.

Besos y Abrazos!
xoxo
Leela
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Happy feet on a happy day at a beach near San Luis Obispo, CA.

 

What Would YOU Do In The Garden?

This morning, scrolling through my Facebook news feed, I saw a post that said, “one of the biggest lies humanity is living right now is that your human value is connected to how productive you are.  It’s hopeless.  For YOU will never ‘have enough value’ when your value is tied up in always having to produce more, work more, earn more, create more, etc. What would you do every day if you were finally free from this lie?”

I sat with that question.  What might life look like, what might I look like, if I could somehow relax into the knowing that just being alive, breathing air, contributing my natural and unique gifts, and simply BEing in a natural state would somehow ensure that I have a home and food and my basic needs fulfilled?  I’m not talking about a free ride.  I’m talking about finding my place in the world.  I know I’m not alone on this quest.  So many of us are searching for our “corner of the sky,” and Lord knows I’ve had a fascinating ride searching for mine.  From waiting tables to playing on the air in drive time radio shows to door to door book sales to colon hydrotherapy, TV reporting, admin work, marketing, acting, dancing, logo design, being a stay at home housewife, a divorced catering waitress, cashier, and sales of various and sundry products throughout the years, my career has been a patchwork quilt of questing.

So the question, “What would you do?...” in the above post landed in the center of my heart.  And this is how I answered.

“The newly forming lines on my face might fade again. Stress for survival has become pervasive, like the low hum of a refrigerator in the background of my mind.

If I could just be, and feel free from this self imposed human condition, I like to think I’d spend more time singing, dancing, playing, GIVING AWAY my art to those who might enjoy it, volunteering, painting, going to museums, maybe working in a garden, doing plays that don’t pay, doing films that don’t pay, doing concerts that don’t pay because it wouldn’t matter how much I could GET for my innate gifts. I think I’d be making more yummy food in the kitchen instead of quickie food because I’m just too tired at the end of a long workday to make an intricate dish. I’d be creating more productions that might flop simply because my Spirt was built for sharing expression, and I believe art heals both the artist and patron.

Perhaps I’d let go of the shells I’ve built over the past few years and the masculine push that has been imposed upon my extremely feminine self to work, work, work at jobs that leave me aching for individual expression and more time to simply create, produce, and share. I’d stop trading precious irretrievable hours of this fleeting life on toil and devote more hours to labors of love that might make a positive difference on the planet. I’d sweat for my purpose, I’d stay up late and get up early to WORK on my soul quenching projects that might never turn a profit, because something within me drives to to do so.

And if I’m blessed enough to have one, I’d spend time with my family in loving connection, knowing I had ENOUGH to actually afford to be a human being living in the country of my birth.”

I’m sharing this because I think it’s a valid question to ponder, and because I know I’m not the only one who comes home at the end of a “blue collar” work day with aching feet, a sore back, or a fatigued Spirit.  The disparity between what many are paid and the cost of living simply does not add up, and it can be exhausting.  I know what it feels like to be paid a lot for easy work, and to be paid a little for hard work.  I’m fortunate to have seen both sides of that fence.  If I’m honest, I preferred the former to the latter. It felt good to do a job I enjoyed for 6-8 hours a day, get paid enough to take care of all of my needs AND still put my dog in daycare so I could take tango dancing lessons in the evenings.  I enjoyed going to a grocery store and simply filling my cart without too much concern about how the final total would impact my basic bottom line.  I made more money in a week then, than I do in a month now… and I work far harder now than I did with my easy-on-the-body, white collar entertainment job.

It’s true that money can’t buy happiness, but the lack of money in an ever increasingly costly country can sure buy stress, which can impact health and an overall sense of well being.  And it affects us across generations.

My father has always been a hard worker.  He worked HARD to provide for our family, trading his health and his sleep and time with his family for hours behind the wheel of a big rig so he could bring home the paycheck that provided our basic needs.  But he aways wanted to entertain people, and when he had a guitar in his hands he did just that with charm and a genuine love of performing.  While growing up, I saw rooms of people light up with smiles, hands clapping and feet tapping when he sang and played guitar.  He still plays for friends and at nursing homes for those who can’t get out to enjoy live music, because he just loves it.  His band even brought in enough money on the weekends to keep our family financially afloat during the big economic downturn in the 80s, but he was never able to stop driving until his recent retirement that has left him living on a very fixed income.

My father was changed by his need to work and provide for his family.  He became stressed and edgy from carrying the weight of our little world on his shoulders.  He seemed to be exhausted all of the time from the sleep depravation of a truck driver’s life.  The happy go lucky fellow he was at his core, seemed to become weighted down by the need to “be a good provider” and his stress began to spill over into the family.  For a period of time, we all waked on eggshells because he was so easily triggered into a rage, and I still experience occasional PTSD from the outbursts which had a profound impact how I viewed myself in the world.  And I KNOW, beyond a shadow of a doubt that he was always doing the best he could do at the time with the tools he had at the time, so I can not blame him.  Blame is useless, especially when I question the true origin of a thing.  How many generations back must we blame for our current situation?  And what good does it do?

Even though I occasionally find myself angry or sad or impacted by how stressful things were growing up, I love and forgive my father for his outbursts of rage, because what I see now is that his anger and frustration were stemming from his unrequited desire to simply entertain people and be with his family, and he did not have the tools to deal with his sense of loss.  The toil took a toll on him, and trickled to the rest of us.  He was grieving the loss of his songwriter musician dreams.  He was in turmoil over having to “work so hard at a J-O-B to simply get by.”  I understand now, and have so much more compassion and understanding for him because I experience it too at times with my current situation of trying to balance making a living with being an artist, and he was doing it with a family, which is more than I can imaging having to carry as a sole provider.  I wonder how many others are going through the same experience.

I wonder how we made such a mess of “the garden.”  We live on this amazing planet that offers so much to us freely, and yet we’ve made it nearly impossible for many folks to ever feel truly valued in a world that equates value with perceived productivity, or economic status.  There has to be more to life than this.

I’m grateful for that Facebook post this morning, because it set me on a course of thinking that has somehow given me a sense of peace about the war that lived within my father, and now lives within myself.  For this moment, I’m waving the white flag and allowing myself to write a blog that pays me nothing because in doing so the writer within me is paid in the invaluable currency of self expression.

What invaluable currency can you give yourself today that will somehow fuel your Spirit?  I wish this for each of us.  As Joni Mitchell wrote, “We are stardust, we are golden, and we’ve got to get ourselves back to the garden.”

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Staying Alive, affirming “I Thrive.”

I abandoned this page some time ago. Life with Leela became complicated and dark. I felt as if I was slipping through the cracks of my own life, grieving the death of dreams and relationships, and even the death itself of loved ones who all died in what felt like a short span of time.

I was depressed and stressed and near hopeless at times. I often actually wanted to just give up and fade out of life itself, an indication of the personal pain I was navigating. It was a scary time. And it wasn’t that long ago, at all.  In fact, some days, I’m still in the aforementioned state, a humbling thing to admit.

Each day in this current chapter of my life feels like a choice to simply “be here.” I’m finding my way back to the light, and some days it is heavily cloaked in loss, but I’m still here. I choose life and to once again believe in possibility. I let the pain pick me up and slam me down and have it’s way with me, because “what we resist persists,” and I really do want to live and to find my own version of sustainable happiness.

For anyone now in the darkest of dark… please know that you are not alone. Private message me before “checking out, ” ok?  Life CAN get better, but not if we don’t stick around for the miracles. I know that some days the greatest feat for some folks is simply staying alive. I know because I’ve been there, too.

Reach out. Support is available.
https://www.afsp.org

 

In the meantime, click here to play THIS SONG and dance around… even it you don’t want to. I mean it. Even if you hate it, and think it’s stupid. Just do it. Then get outside. Take in the air. Walk around the block. Anything to get out of your head and re-engaged your sense of being alive.  I’m not asking you do do anything I haven’t actually tried myself. I promise. =) xoxo

 

 

 

 

Can you Love me in this space?

There can be a sadness this time of year, and PTSD.  There can be rage, surrender, forgiveness.  Tis the season.  I was sexually molested and verbally programmed starting at around age 3 lasting until age 7 or 8.  Most memorably sexual abuse would occur on major holidays.  Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas.
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Once, it happened on Christmas eve at my Grandmother’s house with Uncle William while there were sounds of reindeer hooves, jingle bells, and footsteps on the roof… sounds made by my mom and some of her five siblings as a Christmas surprise for the large posse of children in the bedrooms below.
My grandparents were living in an old, country schoolhouse in East Texas at the time.  It seemed to be loaded with classrooms.  And there was a fireplace in the living room which kept us all warm during the bad ice storm in the mid-seventies.  I’m not clear on the year right now.   I still feel confused about why I had been allowed to sleep with my teenaged uncle as a wee girl in a family with a long history of sexual abuse.   Did no one stop for a moment to think that perhaps it was MAYBE inappropriate?
During this particular family gathering, we had an emergency sleepover due to the ice storm.  Mom is the oldest of 6, with lots of nieces and nephews, so it was a large gathering.  “Where will everyone sleep?”  As the older adults started making room assignments, Uncle  prompted me to ask my mom if I could share a room with him.  I was not denied.  It was a recipe for disaster.
I was terrified because I knew Santa “knows when you’ve been good or bad,” and there he was on the roof, so surely he knew what was happening in my older adolescent uncle’s bedroom just below him.  As the sounds of Christmas and Santa filled the icy air from the roof above, I felt my Uncle’s hands exploring my body, I heard his voice whispering into my young ear, “Shhhhhh.  Be very quiet.  You don’t want to get us in trouble do you?”  Us.  I believed I was guilty, and that I had somehow made this happen between us, because children tend to blame themselves, “It’s my fault.  He can’t help it.  I’m bad.”
His touch was confusing.  I knew it was wrong and that “Jesus and mom and dad would be mad about it” if they were to find out.  I felt tremendous guilt as a kid of 5 or 6.  This was not the first time he had touched my body, or the first time it felt pleasurable.
He discovered where to touch me to coax me into relaxation and compliance.  The clitoris is a truly magical part of being female, and he had awakened mine.   I hated myself for how good it felt to be touched.  I hated myself for pleasing his penis when asked.  I hated myself for NOT being brave enough to walk into the next room, tell an adult, and put a stop to it.  I did NOT want to be found out, get him or myself into trouble, or never feel again the way he made me feel when he touched me.   Once he activated my pleasure center, I craved the feeling, while also feeling guilty.  I was a child.  It was a mess.  I’m still working to build better wiring for myself regarding sex and relationships.
DEAR PARENTS OF THE CHILDREN OF THE WORLD:    Please STOP having sleep overs between teens and younger children.  I don’t know if this is still happening in the world, but it is not a safe thing to do for EITHER kiddo, male or female.
Do we not have enough case evidence?  This is not to vilify teens or parents who didn’t know any better at the time.  This is to help eradicate shame and years of psychotherapy, and feeling lost on a quest for wholeness.  This is to preserve sexual autonomy until passion is ready to come into its own awareness of itself.
This is for ANY CHILD who may BE SPARED from feeling like unprotected prey.  The only way WE, yes WE, are going to ever see an end to early childhood sexual wounding is to get REAL about what has been going on in our culture for CENTURIES.  We’ve got to “reveal it and feel it to heal it.”
AND… now this is VERY IMPORTANT… We, the adults of the world, ALL OF US… are responsible for PROTECTING ALL OF THE WORLD’S CHILDREN.  It is up to us.  Even the childless, like myself.  Childless.  It stings my heart.  Sometimes I ACHE to be a mother.  My heart tightens, my gut clenches, I feel uninvited tears well, and drop, then flow.  I breathe, time and time again, and let it go, accepting the path I have chosen for my life while understanding I have NOT THE SLIGHTEST CLUE where it is really all going.  (That is me, being transparent with you, my reader, my Love.)
Childless Aunties and Uncles of the world, I see you.  Some are totally cool with the way things are, and I’m sure I will get there.  The work of happiness seems to be about embracing the NOW and WHAT IS.  I’m getting better every day about flexing that muscle and allowing myself to rest into just being at peace with how things are right now.  Some days are better than others.  Please, Leela, dig deep and let this be a good day, woman.
As an Auntie, I am far enough OUT of the picture to have some perspective that might be useful.  And I learn from my friends with children.  I’m inspired by their journey.  I have to face my own sense of loss and grief around motherhood so I can truly serve the youngest and most in need of advocacy among us.
Parents, Thank you for holding the light of our future.  I do not know if I’m made of the stuff to stand in your shoes, but I’ll do my best to show up for your kids whenever possible.  I’ll look out for them in the world.  If I see a creeper, I’ll intervene.  I’ve done it before.  I won’t sit idly by if I see bullying or injustice.  I’ll give an encouraging word from time to time.  I’ll tell them they are awesome, or brilliant, or kind, or funny, and that who they are is more than enough and just right.  I’ll remind them to be gentle with themselves when they make mistakes, and to celebrate both their very small and sometimes quite large victories.  I’ll be honest with them and will not condescend as so many adults do with youth.  I’ll be tough with them IF necessary, meaning I won’t sugar coat or be more concerned with popularity than their well being.  Auntie Leela will tell you what she really thinks.  Clear boundaries create safety, and consistency builds trust.  So, I’ll keep working on me so I can show up more effectively as an Auntie.
Does this mean I’m now officially a spinster? FUCK!  No!!!  44 is the new… I’m just getting started.  If I can’t be a mother, I’ll be OUTRAGEOUS!! I’ll be DARING!!  I’ll … Hello Midlife Crisis.  Nice to see you again.  Pull up a chair.  Let’s have a chat. =)  Arruuuugghhhhhh!!  Charlie Brown, I feel you Brother.
Some days I feel I am hovering slightly above rock bottom.  And those days I feel the obstacles before me may be insurmountable.
Some days I want to quit.
Everything.
Just fade out
to Peace.
But I stay.  I choose.  Daily.  And I die daily to the voice that says, “You’re done.  It’s over.  Why are you still here?  You’ve been living in fantasy, Sister.  Look around.  Life is NOT what you thought it would be.  You’re going under.  And you’re not getting any younger either.  Being cute will only get you so far when you age… as a woman.  It’s fucking cruel the way we punish the aging in our society, the women most severely.
This peek inside my mind is RAW and REAL.
I’m more naked now than if you were seeing full frontal Leela Vox.   But I’m posting.  Because this is just me.  No more masks.    I don’t have it in me.  I’m exhausted.  And I’m heart broken over a relationship that is kicking my ass down lonely street.  Merry Fucking Holidays.  Break-ups this time of year suck the most.  But maybe not.  Maybe being single at the holidays will be swell.  Who knows.  Anything is possible.  Arruugh!
So… in summary…
1) There may be folks around you with tender holiday hearts.
2) They might be someone you see out in the world: driving your Uber, preparing your holiday feast, shopping in your line (customers I see you too), living next door.  Let’s look out for each other.
3) STOP putting young children and hormonally charged adolescents in beds together.  Not a good idea.  Raging hormones need proper education and guidance.  Fetishes can rise as a surprise, and teens are not yet ready to face that kind of battle. Pedophilia is actually occurring and we must face it as a culture.  We must lessen the risks to all children.
We’ve got to heal our SEXUAL EDUCATION SYSTEM and PROTECT THE YOUNG.  That’s ONE of the reasons I’m in classes NOW to become a sex educator.  I have to help do my part.  I’m honored to have shed some embarrassment so I can help shed some light and do my part in our collective healing.
4) Aunties and Uncles can make a positive difference.
5) Just a bunch of ranting and random self expressing.
Go with Love-
Leela
PS
Dear Santa –
Whatever.  I’m sorry I kind of loathed you for a while.  I felt super let down by you for a long time, but I get it.  You’re busy and it wasn’t actually you on the roof that night.  So,  I’m stating my intention to have an emotionally neutral to good Christmas season this year.  Thank you.
As for the Christmas list, may I please ask for a financial windfall, please, to dig myself out and start moving up.  I’ll work for it.  I’m already working to build opportunities for myself, and it would be great if one of those materialized monetarily by dollars in my bank account. My Spirit could use the respite.
Thanks Santa, and thanks for reading this far. =)
Leela
Here is the link to donate if it feels good:

Audiophiles Unite!

My top 3 audiogasms for Nov 2015.  ‪#‎PandoraRadio‬‪#‎KCRW‬,  ‪#‎KPCC‬. Once an audiophile, always an audiophile.

I rotate these as my Spirt requires. MUSIC SOOTHS NEWS OF TERRORISM. Local and global listening make me feel CONNECTED to my community. There is a heartbeat that comes from shared listening. A focus. And, when we are lucky, a spark of inspiration to activate social change for the better. I love being inspired by what I hear.

I was once a working broadcaster. I was on the air 9/11/2001. I’ll never forget that day. That sense of facilitating connection for a grieving and shocked community galvanized something for me; a love of the intimacy I experience with an active listening audience… voice to ear… clear… pure… intentional communication… in both directions. Calls from listeners drive the community focus and growth. 

Recent events have inspired a new and unexpected direction for my Life. What I can say now is that life looks nothing like I thought it would, and that my new direction is exciting enough to inspire the effort it will take to succeed, scary enough to make it worthwhile, with a big enough YES to pull me forward.

For those on this journey with me for the LONG HAUL, thank you. This story seems to be a “long and winding road.” I see you too. I’m glad we have each other, as we spin in circles around a ball of fire in the middle of the nothing that holds us all in orbit. Wild. heart emoticon xoxoxo

Right now, it’s ‪#‎GotanProjectRadio‬ on #PandoraRadio for me.