Musical Musings

Check out my “new” Song!!!!!!

About two months ago, I wrote and produced a song called “Let it Burn”.  The first version was as atrocious as the heartbreak that inspired the song.  I produced about 10 marginally better versions until I got something I was relatively happy with.

Except I was not entirely satisfied.  I listen to the song almost daily during my commute to work. (Yes, I listen to my own music . . . don’t judge me – all songwriters do it :))

This new version is the fruit of the 2 months of singing in my car to my own song in an effort to re-think it and produce something a bit new.

It’s by far the most technically advanced song I’ve ever produced.  As always, it was done entirely with GarageBand for the iPad.  It consists of about 40 vocal, music and percussion tracks.

I’d like to give a special “thank you” to three individuals:

1) “Eric” for inspiring this song.

2) Mahesh – a very talented songwriter who suggested adding the higher-range vocals at 4:04 .  I absolutely did not think I could do it.  It’s far out of my range.  It took me 2 months to work up the courage to try, but I think I pulled it off.

3) My Mom – for being my most loyal listener (she listens to 10 versions of every song I produce).  She gives excellent feedback.  For this track, she suggested actually changing the beat after I say “beat” (4:39).  She also thought it should be extended even longer than the 5 minute version I sent her.  She was right on both counts and it’s a much more enjoyable song now.  Stretching it longer makes it a proper song to actually groove to — and it allowed me to play around more with my own vocals, which I thoroughly enjoyed.

So, I hope you like it – and that it makes you shake what your mama gave you :

You can also play it directly on the music player on this blog..

(Reminder: my soundcloud songs are best listened to on great speakers or with earphones).

Unexplained Phenomena

White Men

My recent post on self-love was viewed by hundreds of people.  A bunch of folks commented or wrote me personally to tell me they appreciated what I shared.

As I read their engaging, thoughtful and supportive comments, a curious pattern emerged:

They are all white men.

They are straight. They are gay.  They are old.  They are young.  They are European.  They are American.   They are musicians.  They are artists.  They are writers.  They are academics.  They are white. They are male.

Every last one of them.

How–and why–could this be?

This is all the more peculiar as the post mostly delves into beauty and body image. I mean, I’m giving out tips for styling natural hair and *white men* are my number one co-signers?!

I’ve thought of various sociological explanations: the politics of white male privilege, the topics I explore in this space, the fact that my audience is still building (and probably predominately white).  In all likelihood, my sample size is too small to draw any conclusions.  Perhaps it’s just the luck of the draw.  But I doubt it.  The white men I’ve interacted with through this blog have consistently engaged in a such a high level of spiritual, intellectual and emotional exchange that it begs the question: Do my musings only resonate with this demographic?  And if so, how did I get to this place in my life?  

People of color do sometimes reach out to me about the blog–but almost always in private.  They call.  They write.  And while they have expressed appreciation, their enthusiasm never reaches the passionate heights of White Male Appreciation. I suppose there are worse problems a black woman can face than being shown love by white men, but something about the lack of colored voices here troubles me.


Academic Musings, Life Musings, Spiritual Musings

The Nondual Academic: Revolutionary Self Love

This is the 3rd post in a 12 week series of essays on doing academic work from a nondual, spiritual perspective.  The idea is to open up a new conversation about academia, social responsibility, compassion and the ego.  Most Sundays, I’ll share my reflections on a variety of topics related to writing, researching, teaching and mentoring in the light of teachings from Hinduism, Buddhism and Christian mysticism as well as my own experiences

* * *

Today’s post is about self care and self love.  It’s inspired, in part, by the FeministWire’s recent forum on Black Academic Women’s Health.  This isn’t a side issue without academic relevance: it’s fundamental.  Loving, accepting and caring for the Self is a prerequisite for my being able to show up in the world (and in my classrooms) with equanimity, peace of mind and strength.

To love one’s Self beyond the ego is a revolutionary act.  In the video, I share some of my tools and techniques for self-care as well as the nondual spiritual perspective that informs these “rituals of love”.  I cover everything from skin-care, hair-care, aromatherapy, body image, exfoliation, self-massage, make-up, meditation, supplements, working out, the whole nine yards.  I also touch on a common (and serious) physical ailment among many academics and working professionals: Repetitive Strain Injury.

I’m not so happy about how often my eyes roll back in my head, looking like I need a close encounter with the Exorcist, but hey, it is what it is. The really cool thing? You get to see me in a do-rag. (If you want to skip the beauty segment and hear my rant reflections on body image, spirituality and well-being, jump to 20:52.)

Some takeaways:

  • SELF LOVE BEGINS WITH SELF ACCEPTANCE: “Your body is the cloak God slipped into in order to know Itself.”
  • SELF MASSAGE IS EXTREMELY IMPORTANT – I cannot recommend the Theracane more highly.  I’ve used it since graduate school to help with daily aches and pains from typing when getting a massage from a professional, or a lover/friend isn’t possible.  Yes, it looks like a sex toy and/or a torture device, but your back, neck and shoulders will be forever grateful.
  • SELF CARE DOES NOT HAVE TO BE EXPENSIVE OR TIME INTENSIVE: Many products I use cost $1-$5.  It takes me about 30 seconds to do my hair everyday and another 30 seconds to do my makeup.  ONE MINUTE.
  • SELF LOVE IS THE BUILDING BLOCK FOR LOVING OTHERS: “You find that there’s a beauty and a Godliness and a divinity and a sexiness and a sensuality and a gorgeousness about every kind of body.  Disabled bodies, broken bodies, big bodies, skinny bodies, big bellied bodies, flat chested bodies.  Look at the diversity of how God likes to cloak Herself.  It’s fucking awesome.  It’s amazing.  And so if you can show up in the world having laid the foundations of self acceptance, self love — projecting that same level of acceptance and okayness to everyone you encounter . . . can you imagine the kind of love we can all make together?”

As I say in the video, I feel pretty strongly that it’s absolutely pointless to go to the gym unless you fucking love yourself first.  Before you love yourself  you have to accept yourself.  In order to accept yourself, you must see yourself. So here’s a practice I developed to experience increased body acceptance, awareness and appreciation.

Body Love Ritual 

  1. Find a quiet, private, safe place.
  2. Take a chair and put it in front of a full length mirror.
  3. Get naked.
  4. Stand in front of the mirror.  Pay attention to your breath.  Without forcing, simply focus your attention on the inhale and exhale.
  5. Look at yourself.  Behold every inch of your body.  Observe the thoughts, critical and kind, that come to mind.  Let them be.  Don’t try to change them.  Just pay attention.
  6. Now sit down in the chair.  Keep looking.  How do you feel now?  Let your eyes roam from your toes to the top of your head.
  7. Now imagine your body is the Buddha’s body.  Or the Christ’s.  Keep breathing.
  8. Imagine God decided to craft flesh that looks exactly like yours. Let yourself absorb the reality that your body is already divine.
  9. Sit and breathe in the realization of your own divine perfection.  Revel in the awe at the fact that every atom in your body originated in the Big Bang.  Imagine everything in the universe that had to happen in order for this body to exist.
  10. When you’re ready, do something nice for your body (moisturize, stretch/yoga, self-massage) and put your clothes back on (or not . . .)
Unexplained Phenomena

Very Inspiring Blog Award

Having won the “Liebster Award”, I just remembered this lovely nomination for the “Very Inspiring Blog Award” from Blown. Many thanks!

The rules for this one are as follows:

1. Display the award logo on your blog.
2. Link back to the person who nominated you.
3. State 7 things about yourself.
4. Nominate 15 other bloggers for this award and link to them.
5. Notify those bloggers of the nomination and the award’s requirements.


Seven things about me:

1. I like giving and receiving massages. But mostly receiving..#keepingitreal

2. My favorite drink is a whiskey sour with extra cherries.

3. I like to step out of the shower onto a fresh towel.

4. My body temperature usually feels low so I’m a heat-seeking creature. Think: sauna, thick blankets, heater on medium blast, warmth from human snuggling.

5. I speak French.

6. I would love to beach-hop through the Caribbean for about 3 months straight.

7. I have a tiny beauty mark on my lip.

Alright. Now the important stuff. My nominees!

  1. Not Tsuris
  2. Get a Life, Ph.D.
  3. Truthless Truth
  4. To Be Aware
  5. Reassigned Time
  6. Canadian Hiking Photography
  7. Rohan7Things
  8. Silent Journey
  9. GYA Today
  10. The 6th Perspective
  11. Curl Please
  12. Fashion & Fun After 50
  13. Crunk Feminist Collective
  14. The Life Monk
  15. Notes of a Shaman Student

With gratitude,


Unexplained Phenomena

Liebster Award – Thank you!


Many thanks to the awesome Rohan nominated my blog for the “Liebster Award”!  I was mystified as to what this was all about and a little internet diggery uncovered that “liebster” means something along the lines of “dearest” in German.  The possibly apocryphal origins of award are explored here.  Anywho, it’s very cool to be recognized by a fellow blogger I really dig.

Here’s the lowdown:

Liebster Blogger Award Rules

  1. Display the award logo on your blog.
  2. Link back to the person who nominated you.
  3. Answer the 3 questions, or make up your own 3.
  4. Pass the award onto 3 other newbies (200 followers or less, or started the blog this year) bloggers and link to one of their specific posts so that they get notified by pingback.

Answering 3 Questions:

1) What can you say about dreams?  I usually don’t remember my dreams.  But on rare occasions, I actually have telepathic and even prophetic dreams.  Of course, I never know when a dream is actually telepathic or prophetic until I talk about it with someone else.  If a dream seems significant, I’ll mention it to whoever it feels appropriate to share with (or whoever the dream was about).  In most cases, these dreams have been extremely detailed and specific, so there was no ambiguity as to whether the dream was about a certain person or a certain situation.   What makes it really cool is that I’ve dreamed of things that I could not have ordinarily known – not even by chance.

2) If the sky is not blue, what color would you like it to be? 


) What is your favorite work of art? 

I don’t have a favorite work of art.  For paintings, I’ve been intrigued with Italian futurism ever since a friend took me to the MoMa last summer.  Umberto Boccioni’s work is incredible.  To imagine this is a painting of a soccer player:

Dynamism of a soccer player
Dynamism of a soccer player

And now the important stuff!

My 3 nominees are:

  1. Silent Journey : Lovely blog with inspirational quotes about life and spirituality.  Guaranteed to put a smile on your face!
  2. Beyond the Dream: I find Rory’s reflections to be full of wisdom and I identify very much with a lot of what he posts about emotions, nonduality and love.
  3. The Vintage Dope Dealer: This guy posts his meticulously arranged outfits with a level of dedication and passion so stunning in its magnificence that you’ll simply have to see it to believe it.