Wednesday, November 3, 2010


With a little less than 2 months left until I depart for India with the Heart Touch Project, I thought it was time for another update on what the fundraising experience has been like for me. As those of you on facebook know, I have been beyond diligent in posting reminders to give. I must thank the universe for such a forum as I don't know how I would have reached so many incredible people without getting up and typing those words on that page of mine each and every day. Thank you for your patience in the process. I was told to be relentless and sure enough the consistency paid off.

I managed to hit up a car wash with another Heart Touch volunteer, my friend Brian, earlier in the fall to give chair massages in Koreatown while folks waited on their car to get detailed. That proved to be a great afternoon, an honest and equal exchange of comfort for donation dollars. I had intended to get out and do more actual fundraisers but let time and life slide right over the best of 1/2 developed plans. I don't chide myself for it but I do think the physical labor and coordination involved in such an event would have brought more awareness to our massage project to those who didn't already know me and what I wanted to accomplish.

I have not raised all the funds yet, but I must comment that the sheer fact that I was committed and anchored to this project over the last several months has brought more joy to my day and given me a greater sense of just why I practice massage in the first place.

I never question my place in the world when I am giving of myself in a massage and I don't worry about outcomes either. It truly is a joyful expression of my heart and to know that in a few weeks I will be able to share in this activity in a country I love with other volunteers brings so much happiness into my head.

Last night as I got ready for bed, I lit a candle in honor of the Day of the Dead for my grandma. I thought over her life's work of caring for others for a bit and realized I am keeping her spirit and life alive in the work that I do. I hope this entire experience is just the beginning to a long and windy ride through the world of massage.

May it bring all of us a little more joy, this simple knowledge that if we honor ourselves and each other through simple loving human touch, we bring peace into our lives and into the world instantly. I like that we can do this anytime and bring pure joy into being.

I do promise to record in some verbal and possibly visible fashion my time in India come the end of this year. To all those of you who brought energy and financial support to this project I send you the deepest thank you.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Recreation based in Trust

Life has been a host of highs, with the big pre-travel wind up last week in preparation to hear Gabe give an inspiring and witty look into his creative life's work as a guest speaker at the New Museum, catching up with old friends I love and miss so much, meals and shared space with family, wandering city blocks in the sun, wondering and appreciating life in one of this planet's most stimulating settings. Incredible.The term recreation comes to mind, in the sense of play that can loosen the grip we have on life while exploring, creeping up on refreshing encounters and experiences and also in that most crucial sense of finding, knowing, executing and being oneself.As I begin a much busier work schedule over the summer with few actual days off (this is a good thing), I take this term re-create and stretch it out, soften and sharpen it for clarity, much like when I pop my singing bowl and at once lengthen
a moment in time and kindly arrest any advance of
productive thinking, for a second anyway. Now that I am settling into a new season I ask how can this dry summer, big bad sun inspire me and grow my awareness? Can I take it's expansive, enveloping brightness and let it warm my heart, providing a heightened sense of trust? Let's even do the capital T- Trust, a word that inspires an absolute state, a feeling that in my surrender I may come to know and gracefully accept my place in this life, each day, as it is? And in the quality of these more present, less jack hammered and insistent moments I am actually doing more to foster my pioneering spirit than any amount of shove and worry have provided. This sounds good to my ears. A strum. A hum. A raven's caw. Any single sound that promotes peace of mind.

I have found it difficult at times to wrap my head around the powerful, intricate and delicate implications of my career development. Why the slow start, where does my head fit into the picture, how much planning and action is needed, and how much listening and backing off is required? Here is where I give myself and anyone who reads this a little advice.

The answer lies in my own body. Recreate through receiving bodywork from others. Set pure hearted intentions and utilize gentle, subtle listening skills when I am with clients. Bodywork is complex in it's straightforward aims, metaphysical and powerful in it's very substance. I am thankful I am at a place in life where I am giving myself permission to create new space for my technical skills to develop as I have always wanted to have some element of pragmatism threaded through my life, however all my "technique" must be soaked in Trust.
This is easier said than done.
I sense I am up for it now, Trust. Hold still. Re-create, lengthen that sense of what's possible and give yourself far more than the benefit of the doubt. Have none. Put your time in your work, quality will exist in this world. Trust that the universe will take care of you as you care for others. It really can be that simple. That stripped down. That sound.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Update for India Fundraising

It's about 4:30 on Saturday and the heat that will settle across the valley for the next many months has arrived. I have planted some california poppy seeds around the yard, begun various veggie seeds indoors, turning compost, pruning this and that and still yanking spinach and kale I planted back in December. This is a good time here on Raven Street, knowing these seeds are popping up and struggling to take root and get bigger, more colorful and fluid, providing pleasure for all us animals out here feasting. A nice metaphor for my current fundraising project. I have been truly feasting off of everyone's response. I sent word around via email and facebook a little over a month ago and have gotten so much positive response, either through direct donation and/or through people passing the word along or simply reaching out and saying they are excited for me. I was shocked the first time I got a message in my inbox that someone had made a donation. My mind realized that people are very interested and this particular techno forum for spreading the word is effective. I will continue, without a doubt.

However, it seems I am at a place where I need to develop more face to face initiatives to stretch my reach into other people's awareness. I have heard throwing parties to fundraise is another way to go. While I like this idea, there is some hesitation involved. It may feel strange and disappointing and being new to LA, I don't have a readymade collection of folks to invite. Gabe knows some folks though and I am slowing meeting my own crew. I need to put some brainpower behind this next step and ask advice from those with more experience. I am eager to see this project come to life at the end of the year, which means I have to be willing to try new things to make it happen.

Back to the garden for some methodology, a couple points to consider: building a strong network involves good timing and maintenance and broadcasting as my grandma called it. If I miss a day moving the seed trays out into the sun or keep them in the heat too long or oversoak them they look sad and need my attention. And you have to cast your seeds wide and see what takes hold, knowing some will and many won't. That's just how it works. And when you throw those seeds have a little faith and be grateful for what pops up. That too is just how things work. Humanity has depended on this. It's called agriculture!!!!

Nurturing and strengthening the ties that already exist, keeping in mind the parallel that growing new experiences, just like growing food, takes a variety of essentials and consistency. Water, proper placement, healthy soil, and sunshine. What of these could I utilize to help get me massaging others in India?

I'll spell things back out for you and me....timing, nurturing, watering, casting wide, face to face, faith, consistency, experimentation, sunshine, placement and hearty ground................
Stage 1 seems to have morphed into Stage 2. Mia gets out from behind the computer and gets some motion potion......yes, I just made that up. Some potion to put these ideas in motion.

Being in LA makes you want to stay outside and play.

Outside. Play. India. Fundraise........Mia fundraise.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

April 1st fundraising begins.....

Not once today did I feel like a fool. Nope. I am confidently setting up my fundraising website in order to travel to India for massage work late this year. It is incredibly exciting and totally fresh, since I have never attempted to officially raise funds like this before. I think so much of the initial hesitation is mental. We read about people who bike ride across the country for a cause or row across the Atlantic (yes and she has raised over $74,000 for clean water) to support their convictions. Yes, these folks have set that reservation aside and gotten creative, choosing to see what they can generate from their resourcefulness. I have made a solid first investment with getting my ideas in print and learning how others go about this with grace and necessary ease. I have my end date and end goal in travel to India with other Heart Touch volunteers to provide compassionate massage for those at the Amrita Institute of Medical Science in Cochin, South India. I will send my request out into the world tomorrow morning, April 2nd after a final review. I look forward to future edits and additional tips to tighten the spokes on this wheel of mine. This is a year of movement and action, starting now.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Mountain walk grounds and heightens state of grace

Hiking yesterday up on the trail behind the house, I took notice of some new things.

It seemed to be a shorter trail, possibly due to the fact that I could anticipate some of the bends and things I would see, such as the burnt out car on one slope or certain spots I stopped and soaked in the first time I headed up there early in the morning last summer. I guess the trail had become somewhat more familiar even though that first dusty jut straight up seemed to take much longer and I even had a stick with me for support this time. The first time I went up I saw a much older gentleman walking up that steep ascent with a stick and watched him take breaks but remain steady. It was pretty surprising to me since I thought it looked a little dangerous. Coming back down it can really slide out from under you even with the stick in hand.

I did my usual doubletake at all the blackened tree trunks and branches, but this time noticed how stark the contrast was, how beautiful they looked against the clear afternoon sky and somewhat greener hilltop around them. They were really pretty popping out at me.

A gorgeous, chirping bluebird came down from a higher perch to a lower tree positioned on the side of the hill as I was walking by and I swore it was grandma there talking to me. I have felt her close diving around the backyard as a white butterfly when I was out here in the backyard more last summer and so it was again on the trail. I loved how it made me feel to see this birdie picking at the ground with its beak trying to find some snacks or some thing to play with.

I guess what is so refreshing about a good long walk in the hills alone is that whether you intend to or not, you end up being momentarily absorbed by Mother Nature, just as now the two small yellow-greenish birds are sitting on the water hose spout getting a sip, now flying off dancing about in the yard just as they did last summer. Some things are constants.

I also was under the spell of this small green plant near the edge of the lower hilltop that was level with the trail because it looked so happy sitting in the direct sunlight, all warm and fed by the gigantic sunshine overhead.

Amazing stuff all around us every day but somehow by our own minds omission (history, culture etc) and our density of habits we are completely out of touch, unable to touch with our senses and conscious awareness the intense beauty and mystery such simple existence provides us. Well I definitely got a share of this feeling yesterday and I am thankful for that time alone up there, quiet, moving and observing my planet in motion.

It was warm when I started out on the walk and thought I would be loaded down by my clothing, but as I got higher quickly understood that the winds were gonna being kicking me around and I would need all I had on.

I reached the top around 4, after 2 hours of easy climbing and headed over to the other side where I could see deeper into the San Gabriel range. I saw the leftover snow covered caps towards Glendale and those that are further North.

Again, amazing that such density of mountains exists just right behind my house. I love that first view you get when you round the corner after reaching the top of the trail. I sat down to rest my legs and feet, ate a few pretzels and took in the visuals. I felt the colder late afternoon air begin to blast me and decided I wouldn’t hang around long (isn’t it about reaching the top anyway?!!!). It took about an hour to come back down to the park and into my neighborhood. I passed a couple folks on my way down and stopped compulsively to take pictures of the setting sun and the light that was enveloping me.

I love when you can see a full hot setting sun one direction and the full moon rising looking the other way. I could just feel that cool, anxious, and appealing transition from day into night. The birds were all out singing as the thick color strips pulsed across the sky giving it a strange, when I was a kid in the summer feel, and I just smiled as I made my way back to the house, no keys, no bag with me, just my thick stick and body in motion. Good afternoon jaunt to say the least. I knew California was a sight for these weary eyes and this particular plot of the Valley is beginning to nurture me the way a home should.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Making Boxes for Others

What a treat this past holiday season became for me all because my hands got directly involved in creating something, boxes for others. I have wanted to make small boxes for others (just that sentiment) since I tried my hand as a carpenters apprentice back in 2001. While that experience was only 3 months in length, being around the various hardwoods, hand planers and saws, not to forget the mindless hours of sanding (which I thoroughly enjoy) made quite an impression. Enough background, let’s get to the work itself. I went to a big lumber supply store in North Hollywood and picked out some simple pine slabs and plywood, some screws and sandpaper and headed to Gabe’s studio where thankfully he had a chop saw and the needed drill etc. It was a fun project to conceive.

I knew I would have to sink into the what’s and why’s of each individual box and hoped as the cutting and design began I would learn what each was to become. I ended up making 10 in total for all of Gabe’s family. It felt amazing to see the cuts, line the pieces up, watch the design develop, sand each piece over and over and assemble. The smell and feel of each small piece gave me something, maybe tactile time brings it’s own story forth, which is what I had hoped would happen. I ended up with a few different themes, such as brain boxes for the kids to place their already acquired and still desired knowledge. I spent some time writing something and including it into each one, then packed them up and sent them to the East Coast. I was sort of sad to see them go. I had lived with the idea getting this project going for a long time. Luckily there are many more friends and family members to sit with and sand for. In fact, I have 2 requests right now. The hopes are that I give myself the time to stay with this very simple and satisfying endeavor. See a few pictures of my favorites.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Getting high then dropping low

I had always suspected I might be an adrenaline junkie, my grandmother definately was and my impatience and habit of exhausting my reserves (she seemed to have more of those into her early 80's than me) leads my family to draw comparisons between us constitutionally....all of which makes me feel good and proud. Back to my story. 
This adrenaline thing has been confirmed, completely confirmed due to a fieldtrip I took last Tuesday and Wednesday to Lake Elsinore California, about an hour and 1/2 SE of home. Gabe organized things there for work and I came along to help and rekindle some curiosity. I ended up having the chance to take a ride with the pilot and a plane full of skydivers up 13,000 to drop them out into a solid minute of freefall before opening their chutes. OHHH SHIT!!! I was thrilled and really not scared when I was being given a quick lesson on how and when to deploy my chute. I was about to have my entire body elevated in a profound new way and for the first time I felt like if something happened on this plane I could get out alive and have some control with my hand on my parachute cord. So we loaded up and I swear my face had a 4 year old cheshire grin for the next 30 minutes. I felt like a little girl being taken on the ride of her life. 

The inside of the plane was cool. Very old with handles and bars that moved up and down in front of me like on old roller coasters when they click the bar in front of you. The seatbelt was ancient and solid and needed me to spin the big metal dial to unlock it. The noise was intense and beautiful in my head, getting me all rattled inside as we made out way into the sky. The pilot is co-owner of the company and said he bought their two planes about 15 years ago and started things up. They do about 12-14 drops a day and with the constant sun and almost non-existent rain they can keep it up and running year round. People from Britian were there in full effect taking in the sun with their shirts off between drops.  Badass subculture to say the least. 
I loved watching the altitude dial spin, 3000, 5000, 8000 feet. Each time I looked over I wanted to cry and eventually did shed a little wetness behind my sunglasses. I was just so happy to be above the ground in this precise fashion.
This is the pilot Carl. I really appreciate his letting me come up and observe. Life really is all about perspective and this one set me up for....I don't know how long,....but I am still feeling the after effects. We all need new vantage points and whether it be stuck in traffic or flying out the door of an airplane, it's all useful to appreciate. Life is short.
Here's the bunch of badasses I got to film jumping into the huge open atmosphere. The chutes are beautiful when they open but I think it's that inital moment when you surrender and jump into the ether that makes this sport as relentlessly cool as it is. What is going on in your body when you first let go and fly? What does that feel like? There is no doubt about it, you are flying and that must on one level make you feel more powerful and free than you ever have felt but clearly more vulnerable than usual. That fight or flight thing is in overdrive and hopefully you are sharply focused on what your next steps need to be to avoid death. The relief and sense of pride as you float and direct yourself safely to the ground after the chute opens must really allow you to swim in relentless bursting happiness while coming back to earth. I watched several groups land while there. They come in fast and do such cool shit as they glide back to the ground. 
I knew after the last group jumped out, that I too was going to have to make a plan, save up and experience this more directly in the coming year....hopefully in 2010. As much as I wanted to dwell in this now empty, loud, windy space behind the cockpit that once had folks just like me filling the seats, I couldn't. Carl maneuvered the plane and took a sharp nosedive down,which definately got my attention. I focused on what was going inside me and was filled with a calm, surprised at how happy I was as my tried to adjust and gain equilibrium. The mounting physical sensations got me shedding tears....let's call them thrill tears. A type of gentle release (from a non so gentle scenerio!!) I had not experienced before. I felt like I could do anything. I guess that sums up the attraction. While it is dangerous and quite ridiculous, it really allows a most perfect vantage point of our lives down here. Again, perspective. 

I could barely calm down on my drive back to LA or at work that night, seeing that same thrill coursing through me into my Friday night adventure. No photos from this one but I highly recommend getting your hands on some Fat Freddy's Drop, a group out of New Zealand. 3 horns, which I love, a synthesized, sultry voice and presence on the mic who plays guitar,a  bassist and a guy manning the huge motherboard behind all of them producing the deep and varied electronic splendor. This night of dub and dancing was shared with my friend Elle from work. Lately I have been aware how nice the world is when you share experiences with others and this was a great first hang out for she and I. She happened to know and like the group and was happy I invited her. After some yummy Thai food we headed to the Roxy and found our space on the dance floor. We spent the next couple hours working out the kinks from the week (more specifically for me, coming down and trying to get low, low, low or at least settled back on earth!!). I hadn't danced that fully, soaked scalp and all, in a long long time and it made me realize there are plenty of good times ahead with friends and sound to absorb here in LA. I gotta say, there are some amazing people and ballzy experiences to be had here in Southern California. 
I have to send out thanks to the universe and those people who came into and out to play with me last week. 
Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.