Thursday, September 11, 2014

a September 11th blog, 2014

We have a short attention span as a nation. We bore easily, get restless and want to move on to the next thing. We respond to only the most shocking, and as time progresses, we don’t shock so easily. We can watch our own citizens get beheaded in foreign countries, a nine year old girl fire an Uzi perfectly legally on U.S. soil, and we don’t blink. What does that say about us?

I’m wondering how love and peace stand a chance today, when their impact is so subtle yet profound, but their appearance doesn’t carry the explosiveness of, say, a Bruce Willis movie.

Anyone who was alive at the time can tell you where they were on 9/11/2001. It is indelibly etched in our psyches. The horror. The fear. The overwhelming devastation. In a moment of news footage, we can all remember exactly how we felt that day. And for five minutes, we were all one human family – worldwide.

But it’s thirteen years later now. And the lessons of unity on that day seem a distant memory now. We’ve gone back to the divisiveness of our best economic interests, the separateness of different religious faiths and practices, the polarity of political parties. We’ve forgotten what the coming together felt like. We’ve forgotten that we are our brothers and sisters’ keepers. We prefer autonomy to compromise, judgment to compassion.

It is not a popular view to believe in non-violence, yet, when you ask anyone, they would most surely say they want peace.

It is not a popular view to say that love is the answer, but ask anyone, and they will most surely tell you they abhor hatred.

This world is a reflection of each one of us. There can be no experience that each of us is not embodying the characteristics of on some level, even if it’s by the sin of omission – the not speaking up, the not helping out, the deafening silence when our voices are needed most.

Some would argue it’s a fool’s errand to talk about peace and love in our climate of war and hatred. Some would say it is not the time. But I think it is precisely the time. In fact, there is no better time than right now.

No matter what circumstances anyone in the world is living in at this moment, what resides in our hearts and minds remains purely our own decision. Peace or contentiousness, love or separation – these choices are ours.

Loving those we disagree with at a core level is not an act of weakness; it is an act of strength. Speaking out for peace is not cowardice; it is bravery. Case in point: how many people are willing to do it?

September 11th is a sacred memorial only to the degree that we have become something more or better because of it. So on this day of remembering, I send love and peace from my soul to yours and healing to anyone who is hurting in any corner of the globe.

Thank you for stopping by.

Blessings to you always,
Ilene

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

a project update!!

How’s about a project update?!!! (If you're asking, "What project?" then go here: The Gratitude Project)

So here’s the thing about working on a long term project like a record album – you work very long and often, odd hours.

Therefore, the first thing on my mind is not usually how I look, but rather how I show up sounding. Also, “What are we eating?” is usually a thought that arises somewhere past proper mealtimes and before fainting.

Frequently, I’m wearing no makeup and my ever-changing longer hair is hanging attractively in my face or pulled off it such that I resemble Pebbles from The Flinstones. It’s an attractive look.

So the real time recording session video updates have not happened…yet. In the meantime, I’ve got a couple of stills of life in studio. And I could not be more excited about how this project is taking shape.

The people joining me on this record are Grammy winning musicians who have played with the biggest artists in the business, and you have definitely seen and heard them either on TV or in concert.

In a few weeks, I’ll reveal some of their names, but suffice it to say that I am over-the-moon excited about the caliber and spirit of everyone creating it, and that most definitely includes you.

Yesterday I put the finishing touches on vocals for what I call the “Fortune Cookie Song.” One night, I received a fortune that said, “Take the chance while you still have the choice.” It was before this project even had the remotest possibility of existing, but it was a directive that I took…and here we are.

This project has been a much longer and more involved endeavor than I ever imagined going into it. But then again, all things that are worthwhile are. But every step of it has been an opportunity to grow and expand as an artist and as a human being.

It is a testament to the message of each of us fulfilling our destiny that you are a part of it and that such amazing talents are sharing theirs on this record.

Thank you for hanging in there with me for the duration. I think it’ll be worth the wait! 

Big, grateful hugs to each and every one of you,

Ilene
self explanatory

A work in progress - album notes

Friday, September 5, 2014

everything must go

I was going to write some sort of tribute blog about another great comedic loss we suffered this week – Joan Rivers. I was poised and ready to be poignant, but then I discovered something today that made me laugh so hard I felt certain Joan herself was egging me on, daring me to talk about it. So here it is: People sell their bras on eBay. I know, I know. I’ll wait while you read that sentence one more time.

Well, you know that got my wheels turning. You see, I’ve been selling stuff on eBay lately. “What, and why?” you ask. Well, pretty much everything that isn’t nailed down, because a) I’m making a record that I need to finish funding, and b) Did we really need all that stuff, anyway?

But silly me, I thought the antique Japanese plates, combat boots, or the first season of Little House on the Prairie on DVD would sell. But noooo. Bras, on the other hand – like hotcakes.

Now might be a good time to mention that people are not only selling their bras on eBay, but their panties as well. And not all of them are new. Some are what they call “pre-owned.”

I think I speak for most of us when I say that’s the grossest thing I’ve ever heard ever. Sure, I could offer some deep psychological analysis about anyone buying someone else’s used underwear on eBay, let alone selling it. However, I found myself looking to see if there were any bras (new and with the tags still on them, of course) in my size and how much they were going for.

The bigger the cup size, the higher the asking price – even on eBay. Have you people no shame? Is it really that much more fabric?

Then it dawned on me, “Hey, I wonder if I have any bras I never wore with the tags still on them?” (I’d only sell unused ones, because that’s just the kind of caring person I am.)

Screw the Japanese plates. Maybe I can finish funding my project with my breasts. Pure genius. And I don’t know why, but there’s something oddly poetic about that to me.

Who’s laughing at all those Dolly Parton jokes now, huh? And think what a great story it would make when I play out!

So as I rifle through my satin and lace in search of hidden cash and/or a decent fitting bra I’ve long forgotten about, I invite you to find the humor in whatever absurd situations you find yourself in. Life is short, and laughing sweetens the journey.

Thanks for stopping by. And please support the arts: buy my bra.


Rest in peace, Joan Rivers.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

my birthday blog for 2014!!!

It’s my birthday, and it’s become somewhat of a tradition that I write an annual birthday blog, sort of a taking stock of the past year and looking forward with intention to what’s in store in the coming year.

I don’t mind telling you that I began my celebrating a few hours shy of my actual birthday, with friends and food and a whole lotta love aimed in my direction.

So to begin with, I am grateful beyond words for the incredible people who bless my life by merely being it. And here’s a hint: if you’re reading this, that’s you, whether I’ve even met you or not.

This past year has supplied me with a lot of opportunities for growth. That’s a nice way of saying it’s been really, really hard. But I think that with challenges always come rewards, and sometimes the reward is realizing you’re made of tougher stuff than you realized. It is not Pollyanna to say there is beauty even in the darker moments. That’s a decision you make to look for it and to find it. And it is not for the faint of heart.

As I write this, I am nearing the completion of recording my new CD, In Color. This has been a dream of mine for many years, and so to see it coming to fruition, and to have the chance to work with people I respect and admire and just plain love, is a thrill beyond description.

For those of you who have been on this journey with me and supported it, I will never be able to tell you what it has meant to me to know that so many people stand with me in delivering a musical message of hope, and perseverance, of gratitude and following your dreams, listening to your heart, and taking a huge leap of faith. I don’t think there has ever been a time when those messages were more needed than right now.

As we get older, we start contemplating what our legacy is, what we’d like to be known and remembered for in the world. And no, I’m not planning on going anywhere any time soon, but I do think about the imprint left and in what ways, if any, I’ve made things better for having been here.

Some people think life is random and meaningless. I would be the opposite of that. I think it’s all meaningful, miraculous, and as God-driven as we allow it to be.

So as I begin this next year of my life, I want to express gratitude for every day I’ve lived. For all the people I’ve met and joy I’ve experienced. For those I’ve loved who are gone and for those who remain.

It is my hope, prayer, and intention that both my work and my life are an example of love, compassion, peace, joy, and forgiveness, and that the work I most love doing will abundantly provide for my every need. (I know all my artist friends out there share that last one with me!)

May I never miss an opportunity to be kind.
May I always remember to say “thank you.”
And may everyone reading this know that I love them.

Thank you for stopping by on my birthday.

Xo
Ilene

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

a final offering

It’s been 48 hours since I heard the news of Robin Williams’ death, and though that scarcely seems like enough time to wrap my head around referring to his life in the past tense, the entire world seems to have weighed in, whether using his end as a cautionary tale or in some way paying tribute to the man and his work.

Doctors and assorted other “experts” have tried to explain, to make sense of the unthinkable, while others have judged and condemned the act of suicide as one of selfishness.

Me, I feel raw, shaken, more fragile, and keenly aware that the world is a sadder place without his big, beautiful spirit.

To most, Robin Williams’ suicide was a shock of epic proportion. I do not know why it wasn’t that way for me. Instead, I felt an overwhelming sense of “Ah yes, Robin, I understand, though I wish it weren’t so.”

It would never have been a good time for him to go, even if he had lived to be a hundred and died of natural causes. Such was the enormity of his gift…and such was the hunger we possessed for what he had to offer.

That he left us a body of work that captured and encapsulated his greatness, is a present we should be grateful for. That he left before giving us more of it, says more about our own selfishness than his, really.

I know I go against the grain on this, but I believe he did what he came here to do, even in his passing, if by it we grow kinder toward one another and more compassionate and aware that every single one of us carries around a silent pain that the world likely knows nothing about.

People are astonished that success, fame, wealth, and accolades could not somehow temper the effects of an illness that existed before, during, and after the attainment of those things – as if any of that is really what makes even the healthiest among us happy. It doesn’t.

The truth is we all want to be known, heard, understood and loved in spite of and because of who we are. But none of that can truly exist without us first giving the gift of that knowing, hearing, understanding and loving to ourselves. You can’t be at war with yourself and at peace with the world around you.

So I think Robin Williams’ final offering to us is who we become now that we know the magnitude of human suffering that exists among us. Can we be kinder? Can we judge less and love more? Can we be with each other, even when it’s uncomfortable, even when we don’t know what to say, even when it’s inconvenient? Will we take the time out of our busyness to realize time is so very fleeting? Will we do what we need to in order to be happy in our lives, knowing that we are not guaranteed even one more day?

Gandhi’s quote, “Be the change you wish to see in the world” has always been one of my favorites. However, tonight, I feel like the point is really to be the love we wish to see in the world.

It is always the right time to be kind. It is never too soon to care. And laughter is a holy present, given freely to us to sweeten the journey that we’re on while we’re on it.

It is my prayer that the peace and relief he sought has found Robin Williams now, and that he can feel the love and appreciation that permeates those of us on both sides of the veil separating this world from the next.

Thank you for stopping by, and please know that you are loved.

Peace & Blessings,

Ilene

Friday, July 25, 2014

the right Facebook algorithm

Every time I go on Facebook these days, someone has posted a new quiz, promising to tell me everything from the color of my aura to which U.S. president I’d be.

I don’t take every single quiz, because, let’s face it, I’ve got things to do, but I have taken some of them and these are some of the things I’ve learned about myself from these hocus-pocus-fancy-shmancy-facebook-algorighms:

Shockingly, my occupation should be that of a writer, with a North Eastern accent. (Really glad I didn’t come up as a Pakistani chemical engineer, because that would’ve called into question pretty much all of my life choices.)

If I were a poet, I’d be Rainer Maria Rilke (a very nice assessment – once I googled what he’d written).

Which President? JFK, of course! And in my past life, I was a Greek philosopher. (That one completely bolstered my intellectual self esteem.)

If I were a state, I’d be California. (I’ll be taking up surfing immediately now that I know this.)

If I were a comedian, I’d be Chris Rock, which I take issue with, because I see myself as way more George Carlin or Tina Fey, only I can’t remember if either of them were even in the comedic survey as options. I suppose I should just be thankful I didn’t come up as Rodney Dangerfield and leave it at that.

My Sex and the City character - Carrie Bradshaw. While I don’t have proof of this, I think everyone comes up as Carrie Bradshaw. You can let me know if you came up as one of the other ladies, but I’m betting everyone’s Carrie. And now, I will be going shoe shopping. Total coincidence, I swear.

And keeping on the shoe theme, my nickname is Stiletto. Honest to God, that’s what it said. I really like this, because it seems very sexy to me. Note to self: stop wearing flats.

My aura is blue, which I actually knew already, thanks to my Shaman. Enough said.

And lastly, my old person name is Earl. Yes, Earl. I clicked on “female.” And yet, I still came up as Earl. If it didn’t make me laugh so much, I’d be mildly offended. (No disrespect intended to anyone named Earl out there.)

Be that as it may, I think many of my outcomes were surprisingly spot on. So I was kind of thinking of making up my own quiz and algorithm. But then I realized it would involve some sort of scientific math calculations and that, right there, made me think better of it. Besides, Carrie Bradshaw would never be messing with algorithms.

Thanks for stopping by. Please tell your friends.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

a follow up blog to yesterday's conundrum...

I have learned from watching many Law & Order reruns, that you never ask a question you don’t already know the answer to. (Thank you, fake cops and lawyers.)

When I posed the question yesterday about the Kickstarter conundrum, I already knew the answer. I just wasn't convinced that I already knew the answer. And so I asked you, my fine readers.

After receiving a maelstrom of private messages, emails, and phone calls from people weighing in on the subject, I decided to let you know my conclusion…

I bless everyone. I wish everyone well. I root for every person’s success. I know that we are all interconnected and of equal value, as are our dreams. And that is the message I wish to embody. Nothing and no one outside ourselves can stop our good from coming to us. We can choose to use our life experiences, particularly the more challenging ones, as lessons in being more compassionate...or not. It's up to us. But compassion seems like a pretty good idea to me, both towards ourselves as well as others.

So that’s it in a nutshell for me. Love and compassion...even if...no matter what. 

Thanks for stopping by. Please tell your friends. Oh, and my next blog is gonna be much lighter fare, though it is going to have the word “algorithms” in it, so you’re not gonna want to miss that!

Peace and blessings to you all…