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But can you say them out loud?

by John C. Parkin

The spiritual freedom of the “F” word…

Have you watched a young child playing? Or can you remember what was going on inside your head as a child? I’ve done both. I do the first regularly because I have young children. And the second because when I really relax I remember what it was like to be a child.

If I lie down and look up into a blue sky and listen to the sound of a distant airplane, it invariably brings up a memory from my childhood. Why? Because as we grow up we stop being fascinated by ordinary things. So when I do occasionally take pleasure simply in what’s around me, it reminds me of the last time I did that: when I was a child. This is what children do. They live in the miracle of existence. Everything is new and fascinating. They can enjoy the wrapping as much as the present . . . a leaky faucet as much as a beautiful lake . . . the smell of rain falling on dry concrete as much as the smell of baking bread. Read the rest of this entry »

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“If you think you’re enlightened, go spend four days with your family of origin.” – Ram Dass

Lately I’ve been feeling pulled in many different directions. Before I blame this feeling on the imminent arrival of my parents to stay with me and observe my current life, I’m finally sitting down to write about (and perhaps discover with more clarity) why.

After a totally blissful July of following the music that was flowing from me – bringing with it new people, new places, new experiences, and new ways of being seen – I entered August with a renewed sense of awareness that I needed to be “working” on something. “My newfound sense of freedom and joy could not possibly be the truth of my life experience”, said an ancient part of my brain. “Life just can’t be that easy for you!”

I recognized those thoughts as ones I could choose to believe or not. I saw myself as an observer. I talked it out with my coaching buddy. She reminded me of how far I have indeed come on my path toward the Core of Peace I now know is my birthright and within me at all times.

And still, as I drive from one place to the next – from home to studio to the next place on my agenda – I can’t help but feel scattered. Like my energy is more diffuse than I would like it to be. I notice that my business card has four identities – musician, life coach, writer, and speaker. I now notice that this is symbolic of the fact that in my life I have never felt that it was enough for me to be just one thing – namely, me. I had compartments where I kept my identities and developed them diligently, but rarely did the boundaries of these containers spill into one another. Read the rest of this entry »

1. What delights you and brings you alive?
2. What breaks your heart?
3. What does healing look like?
4. What one life-affirming action will you do beautifully and consistently, with love?

These four questions, conceived by my Real Speaking teacher Gail Larsen, powerfully and succinctly capture the process of life coaching and personal transformation. They go to the heart of our own truth, and call us to look with clear eyes at what is etched in our souls.

For most of us, there is at least one of these questions we’ve been avoiding for most of our lives. It could be any one of them. Perhaps we have not allowed ourselves to want what we want, to feel the joy of being fully alive. Or maybe we have masked ourselves with a facade of “perkiness” and images of “happiness” which belie the deep caverns of unexpressed pain in our hearts. Even if we have done the work of facing our deepest truths, we can get lost there if we never look beyond these current realities into a vision of what our lives could be. And finally, all the dreaming and scheming in the world is no substitute for taking actions which are aligned with the truths we have uncovered and pointed in the direction of our brightest visions. Read the rest of this entry »

Tuesday night I continued my practice of saying “Yes” to life. I showed up at a Jazz Jam that someone invited me to after hearing me play at my gig last Friday with Randy Bales’ Chinese Melodrama.


I’ll always remember something said by the keyboardist who was in the group before I went on. Someone asked if he was disappointed in his performance. He answered immediately, “I’m never disappointed with a performance. I know it can always be improved, but I’m never disappointed. Especially when I get to play on a Steinway! How could that be disappointing?”

What an example of gratitude and acknowledgment of himself!

I was a little nervous showing up at something called  “Jazz Jam”, since I was carrying around the belief that “I don’t know how to play jazz”. It seemed to me to be a separate language, an insular club open only to members, and a totally separate skill set that I don’t have.

Funny how our beliefs are reflected back to us…

I sat down to watch the first group play, and Carl, the bass player who was to be in my group later in the evening sat down next to me. “So, do you play in the symphonies locally?” (He had heard that I was “classically trained”.)

“No,” I replied.

“And you’ve never played jazz before?”

“No,” I said.

“Well, I know how terrified most classical musicians are of improvising.” Read the rest of this entry »

“The quality of your life is directly proportional to the quality of your attention.”

My teacher, Silvia Nakkach, said this to us on several occasions throughout the past year at CIIS, during our journey of spiritual transformation through sound voice and music. It wasn’t until very recently that I started to appreciate the meaning behind these words, and how they applied not only to my life, but to every human being.

Have your ever stopped to consider, “What are you listening to?”

Today, two different coaching practice partners (yes, on the same day!) described to me their experience with noticing what they were listening to. I had sent a new tool several weeks ago to the first buddy – my Daily Sound Journal. The exercise was to choose a day in which you would decide to notice the sounds you hear, and to note your bodily reactions as well as thoughts that arise in response to the sounds.

I hadn’t gotten feedback from her until today, when she told me that as she consciously listened to the sounds she was hearing throughout a given day, she began to notice that there was very little silence in her days, and that she had very little choice over the sounds that she was listening to. This prompted her to make some immediate changes in her life that involved creating specific times of silence in each day, and being more proactive about choosing music to download for herself rather than accepting whatever was playing on the radio, for example. Read the rest of this entry »

Love arrives;

and in its train come ecstasies

old memories of pleasure

ancient histories of pain.

Yet, if we are bold

love strikes away the chains of fear

from our souls.


We are weaned from our timidity.

In the flush of love’s light

we dare be brave

And suddenly we see

that love costs all we are

and will ever be.

Yet, it is only love

which sets us free.

– Maya Angelou

I used to spend a lot of time imagining what love would look like. I never really considered what it would feel like.

Have you really fallen in love with your Self, your soul, your essence? Have you felt the feeling of loving yourself freely?

Before you start making visions of what love looks like, or searching for things that look like love, feel in your body, your heart, and your spirit what love feels like to you. Stay awhile, listen for what it tells you. Then, maybe, you’ll be able to see the love around you, waiting for the moment to arrive.

This was so good I posted it on both of my blogs. Sorry if you’re subscribed to both and seeing it twice…but it’s worth it!

“Between stimulus and response, there is a space.

In that space lies our freedom and power to choose our response.

In our response lies our growth and freedom.”

– Viktor Frankl

Are you creating space between the stimuli and responses in your life?

Think you don’t have time? It’s a little like saying you don’t have time to fill up the gas tank in your car.

There’s a certain exhaustion with going against the grain. I am feeling that sensation at my core right now, and trying to find the way to float along with the current. I keep asking, “What am I fighting?” It’s not like I”m trying to fight anything. But the idea that there is “something wrong” with me, my life, my past, my future…it keeps me in a perpetual state of hovering. I shouldn’t say “perpetual” since I’ve felt this way for only a few moments. I like to overdramatize.

This is not an unfamiliar feeling. It feels like I’ve always felt. Going against the grain. Others I’ve known who have worn their against-the-grain-ness on their sleeves in the form of different-colored hair, pierced body parts, tattoos, or “alterna-clothing” — and I’m talking about the high school sense of the word “different” — manage to have at least the appearance of fitting in. They wear the signature look of someone who is going against the grain. Funny that it’s a very identifiable style that says, “I’m not one of the “in” crowd.” In other words, it signifies belonging to another crowd – the non-conformers. Read the rest of this entry »

Now THIS is interesting.

Today I was scanning my email and noticed that Oprah.com had posted its new Dream Board software for making your very own vision board online. I’d heard about it from Martha Beck and others, and wanted to try it.

So I spent about an hour and made My Wildly Improbable Life in 2011 and Beyond vision board.

I was quite proud of my creation, and I could feel the emotions behind the images soaking into me as I looked at it, rearranged, resized, added intentions to each image, and picked words that resonated with me. And right afterwards, when I sat down to eat lunch, I realized I was feeling like CRAP! Read the rest of this entry »

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