Monday, May 30, 2011

Khandro Tsering Chödrön's passing...

'One of the greatest women masters in the Tibetan tradition, Khandro Tsering Chödrön passed away on the 30th of May 2011 in Lerab Ling. Sogyal Rinpoche and Orgyen Tobgyal Rinpoche were both present at the moment of her passing where she showed all the signs of attaining the final accomplishment of a great Dzogchen practitioner'. Via dear Kristina Turner
May she bless us all.
Seven Line Prayer (Wyl. tshig bdun gsol 'debs) also known as The Seven Verses of the Vajra. The invocation by which Guru Rinpoche came into this world.
In the north-west of the land of Oddiyana,
In the heart of a lotus flower,
Endowed with the most marvellous attainments,
You are renowned as the “Lotus Born”,
Surrounded by hosts of dakinis.
Following in your footsteps,
I pray to you: Come, inspire me with your blessing!


Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Farewelling beautiful Michelle Fawdon...1947 - 2011

Sadly, many of us are saying farewell to one of Australia's most gracious and gifted actor/singers, Michelle Fawdon....

Michell'es stellar performance as Mary Magdalene in Jim Sharman's 'Jesus Christ Superstar' (1972)  will never be forgotten by those who saw her.

She received acclaim for roles in both film and television, including receiving two AFI Awards. Michelle was equally celebrated for her roles in Australian Theatre.

Photo: In friendship: janice slater, evie pikler & michelle fawdon (1980's )

Michelle played an important  part in so many of our lives. Not only through sharing her artistry but through her beautiful qualities & friendship. She was a great advocate of the arts in Australia and directly influenced my own life through inviting me to participate in The Women & Theatre Project (1980).

We will never forget  you Michelle.

Journey mani padma hum om mani padma hum om mani padma hum...

The exuberance displayed by Michelle in this rehearsal performance for Superstar (link below) is so indicative of Michelle's spirit and joy for life!

The Encore link will take you to a page which has been dedicated to Michelle's passing where you can leave condolences..

An Interview with Julia Day

Jan.s:   Julia...we've only met recently although we live in the same location.  Your reputation, as a formidable drummer ...preceded that meeting... by a few years. I'm interested in knowing what lead you to living outside of Sydney? 

Julia: Well there were a few reasons, I was feeling kind of burnt out from Sydney I guess and I'd lived in share houses and was completely over it! I decided like everyone else at the time eleven years ago to take advantage of low interest rates etc and buy land and build a house. That move to create my very own space was the beginning of a momentous stage in my life (the adult stage lol ! ), very challenging, overwhelming and very lonely at times, but of course that was all mixed in with the change that was occurring in me. Ultimately knowing people in the area was helpful and as you know, you and I live in a place rich in culture with lots of artists and eventually that became a great comfort to me. 

Jan.s:  Yes I agree. Julia, you've played with a number of Australian bands, across a variety of genres and I observe a great rapport with singer/songwriters. Your approach adds a unique ambiance on the tracks I've  heard to date. Would you like to share a memorable moment or two?

Julia: Yes of course, I have a wonderful memory of Tania Bowra's album 'Place in the Sun'. Tania had put together three rhythm sections to play on the album, two of the sections recorded at the same studio over two days.

I was coupled with James Haselwood and Greg Royal and Hamish Stuart were the other section.

We decided to save time on the session and use Hamishs' drums, and I don't know whether I've ever mentioned this to you but Hamish Stuart is pretty much my hero !

So there i was playing his beautiful Gretsch drums, with him in the control room watching me do my takes.

It certainly lifted my game having him there, an unusual studio experience to say the least, but so rewarding on so many levels, and Hamish was so lovely to me and so encouraging.

The other experience which springs to mind was working on 'The John Moran Corperation', John approached me one day and asked me if I did sessions and whether or not I'd like to try playing on his thirteen minute track, I have to admit I was a little concerned when he told me that seven drummers had tried but nobody could 'fit the magic shoes' as he put it.

The other concern was there was no charts and no click track, and it was in five movements. John said 'Don't worry, I'll be in the control room conducting you'.

That was the beginning of a new stage for me, playing drums for a pre-recorded track of completely experimental synth music.

As it turned out, my first take was 'the one'... John couldn't believe it and neither could I.

That experience helped me realise the importance of my earlier jazz training, I was able to indulge in improvised musical conversations with no known beginning or end. I learned to trust the music, thereby relinquishing control, relaxing, and realising that ultimately, i'm just a channel for the music. That track is called 'Mystic Man' and it's from the album The 8th of May'

Photo: Murray Foote

Jan.s:  Wonderful stories Julia!  Now, can I ask you, where does your own musical drive come from?

Julia: I guess from the perspective of the onlooker it's drive, but to me it's more about 'need'. Playing the drums is part of me, I've played for love and for money, but mostly for love, (and like many artists will tell you), without music in my life I'd probably be dead by now. With regard to working with songwriters, 'the drive' in that sense is the joy of being part of the process that builds a song into a living/breathing entity from it's most skeletal form, I absolutely love it, and I feel enormous fulfillment from it.

Jan.s:  Julia, I appreciate you sharing part of your journey with us. If you'd like to add any up and coming dates please do so.

By the way I've listening to your myspace tracks and they're nothing short of ...FABULOUS

Julia: Thanks so much Janice.

All photos (c) copyright Julia Day 2011
Here are Julia's upcoming shows: 

With Bluehouse:

May 27, Cape Paterson Tavern Victoria
May 29, Northcote Social Club Melbourne Vic

June 2, Judith Wright Centre Brisbane QLD

June 3, The Loft Gold Coast QLD

June 5, The Clarendon Katoomba NSW

July 10, The Sydney Opera House Sydney NSW
July 14-17, California World Fest, Grass Valley California

July 19, Don Quixotes, Felton California

July 20, Constable Jacks, Newcastle California

*****Also on Sunday June 26 Julia's  playing with 'The Field' at The Lawson pub in the Blue mountains, that's Bruce Reid, Lloyd Swanton, John Stuart. :)

Friday, May 13, 2011

Service Dogs Make Dreams Possible! by Carol Willoughby

“I wouldn’t change my life for anything now!” What would inspire a person living with a disability to say this? I've discovered a single powerful answer time and time again--a service dog.

A highly-trained devoted service dog makes all the difference. Each remarkable canine partner can transform differing abilities into possibilities. Service dogs are often trained to fetch everything from a leg brace, to the telephone, to a dropped pencil. Still, the most important thing they can bring their partner is self-confidence. New dreams--even those never considered before--suddenly seem entirely possible.

My own dream began more than fifteen years ago. It started with a simple yet profound question: "How can I bring other adults and children with disabilities the chance to realize their dreams?" Finding an answer became my passion. It was the single most important reason for establishing Saint Francis Service Dogs.

Behind it all was my first service dog, Booker. A privately trained golden retriever, Booker changed my life forever. He restored my confidence while teaching me many important life lessons in the process. As he performed daily tasks that helped to reduce my frustration and conserve my energy, Booker showed me that by working together as a team, anything was possible.

Today, my first-ever Saint Francis Service Dog, Midas, shares this same important message. I was officially introduced to the big fluffy golden boy, with his flouncy tail and perpetual puppy-like grin, in September at the Saint Francis Center. Midas quickly grabbed my heart and reeled me in. His huge black-rimmed eyes remained glued to mine throughout our meeting. He watched me intently even as he lay beneath the table near the feet of his trainer Connie Kniseley. Silently, I prayed fora sign, asking to know if Midas was to be the service dog for me. As I gazed into his luminous shining eyes, I knew.

One month earlier, my thirteen-year-old golden retriever, Griffin, had died of cancer. He was a rescue dog that bounded into my life at the age of eight. Looking at Midas now, with my heart asking . . . “Are you the one?”. . . I felt chills. I recognized a deep, ethereal look in the young dog's eyes. It was the same look my dear Griffin had given me months earlier when we’d had to say our final good- byes. Now, I felt as if my heart knew what Midas seemed to know as well--this partnership was meant to be.

During our partner training, Midas and I worked hard to sharpen our skills. We passed each test in a variety of public settings, just as numerous Saint Francis teams had done before us. And we did it all with the perfect mix of seriousness and humor.

That balance of hard work and laughter makes life much easier and so much more fun as Midas works by my side today. One of his favorite jobs requires him to bump the automated-door button at the mall. Standing upright on his back feet and placing his front paws gently on the wall, my service dog gives the button a swift tap with his nose. Midas always seems especially pleased with his own nose-power as the wide mall doors open immediately for us. Then his bright eyes gleam with satisfaction. Midas tilts his head sideways and flashes me a totally amazed grin, looking to me for approval--and maybe a treat too. Obeying my verbal cue of either Left or Right, Midas swings gracefully to the correct side of my wheelchair. As we enter the mall together, it's easy to see why he is the service dog of my dreams.

Yet Midas is more than that. For me, Midas brings the Saint Francis dream full-circle. I am immensely proud of the teamwork between our staff, the board of directors and hundreds of dedicated volunteers. Each of these individuals helps to carry the mission of Saint Francis Service Dogs into the future--ultimately, making a difference in the lives of many new dreamers.

© Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Celebrating all Mother Sentient Beings

As we celebrate Mother's Day I am sending my wishes to honour all mother sentient beings  that they too, are loved and nurtured in return.

I found this beautiful post and wish to share it with you...

'It is said that all beings have at one point in time been our mothers, having cared for us with selfless beauty and having made endless sacrifices, protected us, nurtured us, and also supported and enriched us. Through time immemorial, through the various combinations and permutations of the manifestations of karma, all beings have been, at any given point in time, our mother'.