Let It Be

A friend sent this to me, it’s Paul McCartney talking about an meaningful, pivotal experience, from a book called “The Right Words at the Right Time.”

I was going through a really difficult time around the autumn of 1968. It was late in the Beatles’ career and we had begun making a new album, a follow-up to the white album. As a group we were starting to have problems. I think I was sensing that the Beatles were breaking up, so I was staying up too late at night, drinking, doing drugs, clubbing, the way a lot of people were at the time. I was really living hard and playing hard.

The other guys were all living out in the country with their partners, but I was still a bachelor in London with my own house in St. John’s Wood. And that was kind of at the back of my mind also, that maybe it was about time I found someone, because it was before I got together with Linda.

So, I was exhausted! Some nights I’d go to bed and my head would just flop on the pillow; and when I’d wake up I’d have difficulty pulling it off, thinking, “Good job I woke up just then or I might have suffocated.”

Then one night, somewhere between deep sleep and insomnia, I had the most comforting dream about my mother, who had died when I was only fourteen. She had been a nurse, my mum, and very hardworking, because she wanted the best for us. We weren’t a well off family, we didn’t have a car, we just about had a television, so both of my parents went out to work, and mum contributed a good half to the family income. At night when she came home, she would cook, so we didn’t have a lot of time with each other. But she was just a very comforting presence in my life. And when she died, one of the difficulties I had, as the years went by, was that I couldn’t recall her face so easily. That’s how it is for everyone, I think. As each day goes by, you just can’t bring their faces into your mind; you have to use photographs and reminders like that.

So in this dream twelve years later, my mother appeared, and there was her face, completely clear, particularly her eyes; and she said to me very gently, very reassuringly, “Let it be.”

It was lovely. I woke up with a great feeling. It was really like she had visited me at this very difficult point in my life and gave me this message: be gentle, don’t fight things, just try and go with the flow and it will all work out.

So, being a musician, I went right over to the piano and started writing a song: “When I find myself in times of trouble, Mother Mary comes to me”….Mary was my mother’s name…”Speaking words of wisdom, let it be. There will be an answer, let it be.” It didn’t take long. I wrote the main body of it in one go, then the subsequent verses developed from there: “When all the broken-hearted people living in the world agree, there will be an answer, let it be.”

I thought it was special, so I played it to the guys and ’round a lot of people, and later it also became the title of the album, because it had so much value to me, and because it just seemed definitive, those three little syllables. Plus, when something happens like that, as if by magic, I think it has a resonance that other people notice too.

Not very long after the dream, I got together with Linda, which was the saving of me. And it was if my mum had sent her, you could almost say. The song is also one of the first things Linda and I ever did together musically. We went over to Abbey Road studios one day, where the recording sessions were in place. I lived nearby and often used to just drop in when I knew an engineer would be there and do little bits on my own. And I just thought, “Oh, it would be good to try harmony on this.” But I had a high harmony in mind, too high for me, and although Linda wasn’t a professional singer, I’d heard her sing around the house and knew she could hold a note and sing that high. So she tried it, and it worked and it stayed on the record. You can hear it to this day.

These days, the song has become almost like a hymn. We sang it at Linda’s memorial service. And after September 11th, the radio played it a lot, which made it the obvious choice for me to sing when I did the benefit concert in New York City. Even before September 11th, people used to lean out of cars and trucks and say, “Yo, Paul, let it be.”

So those words are really very special to me, because not only did my mum come to me in a dream and reassure me with them at a very difficult time in my life-and sure enough, things did get better after that-but also, in putting them into a song and recording it with the Beatles, it became a reassuring, healing statement for other people too.

Take a Moment…

You have to slow down to enjoy this video made by Rishi Kaneria starring stuntman Dante Ha. I love art that pulls your attention into the moment and the unseen world revealed by slow motion.

[vimeo http://vimeo.com/27612305]

What Is Important To You?

Candy Chang
A few weeks ago I posted how reflecting on our mortality can be a useful tool for coming into this-now-moment. Now is the only space that’s real…now is the one area we truly have to work with…now is where life is happening.

New Orleans’s artist Candy Chang is on to a similar theme with this thoughtful art piece. She creates art within cities that people can participate in. And from the looks of it…this participation changes the art itself and the people involved.

To support her project she has also created similar but individual, limited-edition paintings to help you remember what’s important to you.

Vulnerability Is Beautiful

Vulnerability is how we connect with one another and go deeper. Vulnerability can be counterintuitive sometimes but it’s the way the wise and self-accepting communicate. May you have the courage to be vulnerable and may your vulnerability set you free.

[vimeo http://www.vimeo.com/6933041 w=760&h=510]

Vulnerable Is Beautiful from Rachael Maddox on Vimeo.

Send Your Future Self an Email

Did you know that there’s a website where you can send your future self an email?

There are two things that make this site interesting. One, you can write yourself an email that will be sent back to you at a future date of your choosing. You can send along whatever: encouragement, love, a kick in the pants, insights that you’re afraid you may forget, or a series of check-ins around goals you are working toward.

The second cool thing is that this site allows readers to view the letters that people are sending to themselves (anonymously of course.) So you can get your voyeurism on.

I, myself, just wrote an email telling my (future) self, the good, the bad, and the ugly of what’s going on in my life with the thought that it might be amusing later. What are you going to tell your future self? Now if only my future self would email me back…

What Happens When Someone Believes In You?

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IVwdBCb8S1I&rel=0&showinfo=0&theme=light&w=760&h=340]

How to Be Alone

Enjoy this wonderful video by filmmaker, Andrea Dorfman, and poet/singer/songwriter, Tanya Davis. Let me know what you think of it…

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k7X7sZzSXYs&rel=0&showinfo=0&theme=light&w=760&h=340]

The Power of Music

All human cultures have had some form of music, in fact, music predates agriculture. It is a universal language that has the power to change our experience of the world around us.

I have playlists that I’ve created for different times in my life, different moods, or to generate different states. Check in with how you’re feeling today or notice what’s on your mind. Whether you want to stay in this mood or if you want to shift into a different space, consider creating a playlist to support this.

I’ve included a few songs from a playlist that I created for when I want to lighten up, feel inspired…or I’m just in a sweet, summer good mood. I also have a divorce playlist, a playlist for every vacation I’ve taken (which then reminds me of those times), and many more. Music is so personal though. What music or playlists do you create to support yourself, celebrate, mark a time in your life, or whatever?

Golden – Jill Scott

[soundcloud url=”http://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/7717660″]

Got to Give it Up – Marvin Gaye

[soundcloud url=”http://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/11103040″]

I Can See Clearly Now – Johnny Nash

[soundcloud url=”http://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/15907523″]

Who Are Your Heroes? And What Have They Done For You Lately?

Motivational speaker and business growth expert Steven S. Little points out that we choose our heroes based not on their wealth accumulation or accolades but on something else. We remember our heroes for their effort, their values, and their ideas. We don’t remember how much money they made, but we recall the steps they took to get there, the process they followed, their trials and tribulations, and their reaction to these challenges. Furthermore, this is why some of the sports speakers that lead motivational talks are so inspiring. The sports industry is incredibly competitive and therefore we can learn useful lessons about tenacity and perseverance from sporting sensations. All this had me think of some of my heroes.

Before I even understood why I had heroes; I was utlizing them to motivate and inspire me. To give me hope for myself and to remind me of the deepest heart of humanity. Heroes infuse our world with meaning and serve as models for what we value.

Looking at who your heroes are and understanding what they truly represent or symbolize, is a way to understand your own deeper values. It’s a way to learn more about who it is that you really are.

I am going to share a couple of my heroes (although I have many.) I would love it if you would share some of yours, who they are, and what they represent to you. What it is they do for you…

I learned about Maya Angelou, many years ago when I first read her autobiographical book, “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.” At the time, I was completely blown away by her raw honesty in how she shared her life experiences and challenges. She exposed herself in a vulnerable way as I had never seen before. She taught me that if you were strong and brave you had nothing to hide. She tenaciously pushed herself beyond survival and into the life of her dreams. She was unafraid of being herself or if she was afraid, she stood tall and expressed who she was anyway…giving permission to anyone who was ever marginalized to boldly give their gift to the world. She published her first novel at 42 years of age, which deeply inspired the sense that it is never to late to begin a new dream. Today she has over 30 best-selling published works, and at last count, 30 honorary doctorate degrees. She is a true elder and lioness in our world community.

Zora Neale Hurston is a writer I was introduced to many years ago when I read her book Their Eyes Were Watching God. When you begin her book it can be challenging, because she was the first author to write in an African American dialect found in the south in the early 20th century. It can take a chapter or so to adjust to this different way with words, but suddenly you are in middle of an adventure of redemption and growth.
It was the first time I had ever read a “Hero’s Journey” with a woman as the protagonist. A “hero’s journey” is essentially a story of a character’s search for something incredibly important, they travel far from home to find this necessary thing, and while on the adventure they are transformed to their core by the challenges they face…and while we read a hero’s journey, it inspires us on our own paths of change and growth. It reminds us that we too can triumph against the odds.
Yet it wasn’t just this novel or her profoundly gifted and descriptive writing that I admired. It was also Hurston’s own story, because although she was a key figure in the Harlem Renaissance, a novelist and anthropologist who wrote 50 published short stories, plays, and essays, although she was a central figure in the preservation of African American folklore, and considered one of the most influential African American writers, regardless of all of this, because of the timeframe in which she lived, she also struggled with intense poverty, sexism, and racism. In 1960, when Hurston died, it was in destitution, and she was buried in an unmarked grave. In 1975, Alice Walker helped to revive an interest in Hurston’s work. Walker also found Hurston’s unmarked grave and erected a small monument to honor Zora Neale Hurston the woman and her significant contribution.

When I look over my heroes I see that they fight the odds, they stand up for themselves, their art, their passions, their beliefs. They are adventurers and pioneers. They are leaders. They are symbols of transformation. Most of all they are smart, tough, and dazzlingly alive.

Share your heroes with me. If you have forgotten who your heroes are maybe it’s time you discovered some. Then you can allow them to inspire and motivate some of your own greatest dreams.

What Happens When Art Washes Over You? Walk Through This With Me

Poetry and spoken word are one of many art forms that can take us to a place beyond our logical thinking minds and into our emotional, if you will, deeper self. Art communicates in a layered way that our whole selves can absorb (if we’re paying attention.) I want to share this rich piece by Anis Mojgani. He is one of only two people to have won multiple Individual Champion Titles at the National Poetry Slam. He is the 2007 international WorldCup Poetry Slam Champion and a Pushcart Prize nominee. An HBO Def Poet, Anis has also appeared on NPR and his work can be found in the literary journal Rattle, as well as alongside the work of US Poet Laureates Ted Kooser and Billy Collins, in the anthology Spoken Word Revolution Redux. I’ve included the lyrics at the end. For me, listening to something of this beauty is like watching a brilliant sunset or being in a vast, majestic, expanse of wilderness, it can shift everything. Suddenly I am moved and somehow reminded of something subterranean and more real than all the banter in my head could ever be. It brings me into the moment and into my heart and body…it softens me. It awakens a kind of inspiration or awe. Share with me what happens when you let it wash over you. If your not sure what it means to let something wash over you…it goes like this: Bring yourself into a place of experience…not so much a thinking place…but a felt place…first feel your feet, feel your body in the chair or wherever it is, take a deep breath, be here now, and then press play.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ATC5OGh3adg&w=640&h=374&rel=0&showinfo=0&theme=light]

Come Closer Come closer.
 Come into this. Come closer. 
You are quite the beauty. If no one has ever told you that before know that now. You are quite the beauty. There is joy in how your mouth dances with your teeth. Your mouth is a sign of how sacred your life actually is. Come into this. Come closer. Know that something softer than us, but just as holy, planted the pieces of Himself into our feet that we will someday dance our way home. Know that you are almost there. Come closer come into this. Know that whatever God prays to He asked it to help Him make something of worth. He woke from His dreams scraped the soil from the spaces inside Himself made you and was happy. You make the Lord happy. 
Come into this. 
Come closer. There are birds beating their wings beneath your breastplate gentle sparrows who are aching to sing, come aching hearts, come soldiers of joy, doormen of truth, come true of heart, come into this.
 My heart was too big for my body so I let it go and I have shaved off so many of my corners that I have felt at home only in a ball bending myself so far backward that the song of my mother thought that I was returning but believe me when I tell you that my soul, my soul has squeezed into narrow spaces. Place your hand beneath your head when you sleep tonight and you may find it there making beauty as we sleep as we dream as we turn over when I turn over in the ground may the ghosts that I have asked answers of do the turning kneading me into crumbs of light and into this thing love thing called life. Come into it! Come you wooden museums
. Gentle tigers. Little giants!
 I see teacups upside down in your glowing smiles. Your hearts are like my hands. On some days all they do is tremble. I am like you. I too at times am filled with fear, filled with fear but like a hallway must find the strength to walk through it. Walk through this with me. Through this church of blood, bone, and muscle that is ours, there is a door in front of us, put your hand on it’s knob and let it swing open, take a step forward, back straight, head up, eyes open, heart loud, walk through this with me. Walk through this with me.