Saturday, January 11, 2014

Drumming Joyfully Into the New Year

Coconut Grove Drum Circle at King Mango Strut Parade 2013
My new "drummer" mama. She's also an amazing painter.


I really don’t have any typical New Year’s resolutions this year. Last year was filled with highs and lows, professionally and personally. Becoming a full-time caregiver has been one of the greatest challenges of my life, but that’s another story.



This year, my only resolution is not a thing “to do,” but a thing to experience in my heart, each and every day: JOY.  That’s it.  Simple, unabashed, joy -- to feel joy not just in my heart, but also in my bones, deep down inside at the cellular level.

In the book Eat, Pray, Love, Liz’s spiritual guide in Bali says: “Even smile with your liver.”

Good advice, because so many of us have become accustomed to frowning in our bodies.  Oh, that litany of aches and pains, stemming from hurt, anxiety and depression.

Some days, the pain I feel while seeing my parents decline in dementia is so intense, I forget that the sun shines, that babies giggle, that there is always something new and fresh in the world, like the fragrant herbs and delicious tomatoes I grow in my balcony garden.


But one thing I haven’t forgotten is my love and practice of music and dance, which I rediscovered last year, in spite of everything. This is the year of spiraling upwards into joy, not spiraling downwards into sadness.

No matter what.

Think about it.  We focus so much on the external. The challenges of losing weight, quitting smoking, starting an exercise program or cutting back on drinking – whatever your “bad” habit demons are – all these pale in comparison to the ultimate challenge of living in a state of grace and JOY no matter what shit storm hits you.



Happiness is our birthright.

So for inspiration -- and sheer, glorious fun -- I marched with the Coconut Grove Drum Circle during the King Mango Strut Parade on December 29,  which got me started on the right foot January 1.

During the event, I interacted with the spectators on the sidewalk by sharing my percussion accessories.  I also felt the embrace of a friendly, warm group of people who practice the arts of drumming and dance.


Coconut Grove Drum Circle at King Mango Strut Parade 2013
No shortage of exuberance with this drummer. 


Coconut Grove Drum Circle at King Mango Strut Parade 2013
I think this lady was totally smiling with every fiber of her being.  I want to be her when I grow up.

The Coconut Grove Drum Circle meets on the corner of Commodore and Grand Avenue the first Saturday of every month around 8 PM.  Stop by and listen.  It also coincides with an art walk. A good way to spend the evening, Miami-style.

Sometimes, random passers-by try playing shared instruments.  I once shared a small drum with a little girl who was a tourist in Miami. Her parents nodded in approval and the child gleamed for five minutes. What an experience for her: go ahead, try something new, experience joy.

The circle is so germane to our archetypal consciousness; it symbolizes a space that is enclosed but still fluid, a space that allows for a sense of community that respects individuality.

Irish poet W.B. Yeats once wrote: "How can we know the dancer from the dance?"  Well, we can't. Both are one and the same -- united, in harmony, gliding through the ether.

Movement means joy to me.  Stagnation spells spiritual death. So I’m going to continue to love my new friends, beat the heck out of those drums and shake my booty to my heart’s content.

I don’t just want to smile with my liver. I want to smile out of my sweaty pores, every hair follicle, my retinas -- every fiber of my being. I want to giggle like a baby over something silly.  I want to sing lullabies and funny tunes with my mom and dad. I want to feel the vibration of music in my soul, to laugh like everyone's watching.  I’ve released the past and will drum my way into a new year filled with music, dance and joy.

And love, lots of love.  I'm sure my future husband will love it when I'm smiling, even in my sleep.

What brings you joy?

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