Some people know what they want to be when they grow up.
I was NOT one of them!
But I -did, from childhood, always feel driven to bring more fairness to the world. That took me through social work and applied social research to shape things through service, systematic analysis and informed action.
The question was always "how can I leverage my limited time, energy and resources to make the most positive and enduring difference in the world?"
My PhD work in international development studies and statistics made it clearer than ever before that sustainable change happens at the grassroots. so I decided the best use of my energy would be to make videos for nonprofits to spread the word about the transformative work many of them do.
In my mid-late 30s and early 40s I spent a lot of time advocating for public financing of elections, cable access TV facilities and the abolishment of the death penalty.
Asheville / Music
In 1997 I moved to Asheville NC and in the next couple of years I took up African drumming and began reconnecting with my musical roots.
For several years, I drummed in multiple weekly African dance classes and learned the nuances and complexities of many West African rhythms.
I was amazed at the interrelationships of the polyrhythms and how, when played as handed down, the rhythms invited me (and, it seemed, all drummers, dancers and observers) into new and soul-expanding portals of shared experience.
For many years I helped facilitate the popular Friday night Asheville drum circle that continues to draw hundreds of people to come celebrate the ancient experience of humans drumming and dancing together.
I still marvel at how the simple act of playing a drum pulls people towards it.
Perhaps it's the heartbeat of a larger consciousness, sending lifeblood through the community, a larger body consisting of each of us, that comprises the pulse of wholeness, wellness, Life itself.
Since 2001, I've been leading the Jubilee! Community World Beat Band and playing a lot of different kinds of music.
It's always been fun to weave secular popular music into the sacred space of the Jubilee! celebrations.
The chance to use music to thread the theme of each week into people's spiritual, mental and physical experience is deeply gratifying.
Through this melding of the secular and sacred, and through the simple and profound power of music, we're invited, cajoled, toe-tapped and hip-wrangled into the surprising, mind expanding and heart opening experience of the Divine in everything.
In 2003, I formed the party/dance band, Current Invention, bringing together a great lineup of gifted musicians to play for weddings, celebrations, conferences and fundraisers in the Western North Carolina area.
For over a decade, we plugged in the instruments and connected with the beat of some good tunes and a lot of audiences who were up for a ce-le-bra-tion! We had several hundred songs on our regular list and played several thousand songs along the way. We were genre-agnostic and played swing and latin jazz, classic rock, Motown and R&B, blues, ballads, and just about anything that would get people dancing, singing, tearing up (in a good way!), and enjoying themselves.
In 2003 I also took to the theatre stage, doing improvisational music and acting with the Asheville Playback Theatre company. Creating live improv theatre is scary, exhilarating and deeply rewarding (like all good creative edges).
Improvisation invites delight, empathy and celebration in all kinds of magical and beautiful ways.
After all these experiences, I know a few things I didn't know before.
Mostly, I know I'm in trouble when I start thinking I know something that doesn't align completely with love. And since love seems to be the ultimate reassurance and the ultimate mystery, I'm getting much better at letting go of the knowing and getting on with the being and doing.
It's simple, enlivening, and a heckuva lot more fun!