LOVE is the Answer!

Artwork by Michelle Spahn (aka Funk Mama!)

With all the craziness going on in the world today, we need to remember,
“Love is the Answer!”

The words and images used in this piece are borrowed from peaceful warriors
of the past and present, Michael Franti, Julia Butterfly Hill, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Bob Marley and Babtundi Olatunji.

My vision for this blog was to have a venue to use my voice! Since I have been
too busy to write as regularly as I would prefer, I have decided to move toward shorter posts where I might borrow the words from others with some commentary either artistically or with words.


Happy New Year!

CONNECTED, INSPIRED and ALIVE is how I brought in the New Year, dancing with dear friends old and new, to the music of Furthur (the Grateful Dead).

I am so utterly thankful to my wild friend Kelly, who in 1983 talked me into going to see a band I knew nothing about, the Grateful Dead. My life changed the moment I walked through the magical portal at Redrocks Amphitheatre, where I found myself surrounded by kaleidoscopes of color, crowds that parted as I traversed the venue, and a multitude who swayed like an ocean swell as they danced! Not knowing when a song began or ended, I heard epic stories, danced fantastic fantasies, and felt my energy root deeply into the earth and soar high into the atmosphere to connect with the stars.

The music of the Grateful Dead is home for me and home is where I was this New Year’s Eve.  I was surrounded by the community that inspired me during an impressionable age to become the person that I am put on this earth to be. Not to be misunderstood, other jam bands, especially String Cheese Incident, tickle my being to the core, but I’m not sure I would have found the amazingly diverse music, friends, creativity, and career paths that I’m blessed with, without first having my heart opened by the music of the Grateful Dead.

Thank you everyone, whether or not you are into the Dead, for sharing this journey with me. I am happy to be me, riding the wave with all you beautiful and inspirational beings.

At midnight the band poured out their hearts to us as they sang a Rolling Stones song, “We Love You.” I shout out my love to the band, GDTS, all my friends I dance and party with at shows & elsewhere, the Amoeba who was together on December 30 (You know who you are!), the musicians who I play music with, the people I create and laugh with, the people who guide me with their wisdom, the teachers & designers who share my passion at work, my generous and supportive family, and my loving friends I grew up with.

Many Blessings for 2011, an important time to spread as much positive vibration we can generate onto this earth and into our world.

Give peace a chance, give generosity a chance, give compassion a chance, give…

Much love to you all!

(Note: As a part of my tradition, many of you will be receiving a hard copy of this New Year greeting.)

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A Thought from Glinda!

Glinda the Good Witch

Inspired by an old friend…Star Jumper.

twinkle twinkle
little stardust sprinkles
showering effervescence
with a cosmic glow

life is lovely
in spite of what could be
within the workings of what we know

serenade new positive-lies
with veracious lyricism to and fro

reinvesting and manifesting
regard and love that impels us to grow

by Manas Manna aka Funk Mama!

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Badshah Khan Movie Alert!

I wanted to make sure and address the anniversary of 9/11 before the month of September was over, especially because the movie, The The Frontier Gandhi: Badshah Khan, A Torch for Peace, directed by Teri C. McLuhan, is playing this Thursday, September 30, at the Del Mar Theatre at 8:00 P.M. It is about Badshah Khan, a non-violent leader from Afghanistan, who led a non-violent movement to get the British out of Afghanistan in the same era when Gandhi led his non-violent movement in India. I learned about him in the book I picked up after 911, Nonviolent Soldier of Islam: Badshah Khan: A Man to Match His Mountains, by Eknath Easwaran.

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The Beauty of Living the Impossible Dream

Making music is up there with one of the most incredible experiences life has to offer. Like dance, it provides an open avenue for expression. Dancing seems to come easy to me, but singing and playing guitar is an ongoing journey of developing my skills, allowing myself to be where I am in my process, rejoicing in my successes, and embracing my mistakes. Growth is born out of an ongoing cycle of independent practice, jamming with friends, and occasional performances.

Recently, I was invited to perform at a benefit concert with three lovely friends who happen to be amazing musicians. I’ve been desiring more opportunities to be stretched as a musician, especially in the area of performance, so was pleased to accept. I love when my wishes are handed to me!

Our practices were fun and productive. We communicated well as we worked out the songs on our song list, so I was entering this situation with confidence.

Bam! Something happened at the performance… stage fright!  All my confidence went tumbling down.  I felt like a weak link in the group and began to wonder, “Will I ever get it?”.

Soon after that, I was hanging out with a friend who wasn’t aware of my internal struggles. She serendipitously suggested I read, Pronoia is the Antidote to Paranoia, by Rob Brezsny. Infused with her enthusiasm for the book, I didn’t waste time in acquiring a copy and immediately started to read.

Wow! Inspiration is what this book is all about! I was immediately captivated by the numerous insights and reminders of the miracles of life that range from how amazing it is that our planet exists, that our sun provides the perfect temperature for life, that we can breathe, eat, love, think, etc. Within the first ten pages of profound descriptions of the marvels of being alive, I found an antidote to my recent  performance anxieties as the author discussed the gifts and blessings of our range of emotions:

Your capacity to experience emotions and passions and longings is one of your most precious endowments. You may not exult in the waves of anger or jealousy that sometimes ripple through you, but you’re glad you have the power to feel them. Your yearning for the impossible dream may feel shattering, but you relish being able to accommodate that much intensity. And as for the sensations that are more unambiguously positive, like a surge of courage in the face of an intriguing challenge or a surprising breakthrough with an intimate ally: They’re treasures beyond measure. Can I hear you shout hallelujah? (Pronoia is the Antidote to Paranoia, Rob Brezsny, Page 7)

Transformation! My misery was suddenly transmuted into joy and gratitude. I am blessed to have this life, to experience bliss and disappointment, to follow my interests and challenge myself, and to act upon my impossible dreams with courage, tenacity and excitement.

The beauty of living our impossible dream(s) is to get out and do it, make it happen, and to appreciate all the people who live the dream with us! Our journey is where the dazzle is!

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Getting in the Zone!

All Funk Mama w/ Parade Make-up

All Funk Mama w/ Parade Make-up

(Image copyright of allfunkmama 2010.)

Whoo hoo! Let’s party at High Sierra Music Festival (HSMF)! Festival goers embark upon this yearly journey from far and near to Quincy, California, to be immersed in staggering amounts of music with multiple stages of up and coming bands and bands we already know and love. HSMF includes four days of no driving, visiting with friends, workshops, parades, a wide array of music, and dancing. We are surrounded with people who rejoice in life and are in love with the experience, in an environment that supports reckless abandon of kindness and fun.

This fertile environment offers the opportunity for the music to dance my body while my brain is a joyful observer. My mind and body, the rhythm and melodies of the music, and friends surrounding me, become one. This blissful, ecstatic moment, when self-consciousness ceases to exist, is what keeps me going back to HSMF and other music venues for more.

Blissful dance was serendipitously introduced to me in my early years through the Grateful Dead. Being a lover of music, I have a long history of attending concerts and music events. At the point when I was feeling completely fed up with the lack of dancers at rock & roll events, a friend talked me into seeing a band I knew very little about, the Grateful Dead. I was an instant fan when the entire crowd undulated from the first notes the band played to the last.

In 1986, mythologist Joseph Campbell, “whose philosophy is often summarized by his phrase: ‘Follow your bliss,‘” gave a lecture on his observations of a Grateful Dead concert. His words offered an impressive and heartfelt validation of the power of our group dance experience:

This is more than music. It turns something on in here (the heart). And what it turns on is life energy. This is Dionysus talking through these kids. Now I’ve seen similar manifestations, but nothing as innocent as what I saw with this bunch. This was sheer innocence. And when the great beam of light would go over the crowd you’d see these marvelous young faces in sheer rapture- for five hours!


“Oh My Got!!!” Why do I love Italy?

Maratea, Italy

“Oh My Got!!!” Why do I love Italy and Always Wish to Return?

(Italy 2010 Family Vacation Photos:  Kodak Gallery .)

Italy, you tug on my heart. I love California. My life here is full and rich, but something happens to me in Italy. I get a spring in my step, feeling assured of wonderful adventures, beautiful people, exquisite food, and gorgeous landscapes and architecture. Yes, this is partly due to the fact that I’m on vacation and am surrounded by family and friends who are are equally as passionate about Italy and who experience life and travel with love and laughter. We have fun! With that said, credit must be given to those Italians who connect with us and enrich our travel adventures by making Italy more than a place to see, but who make Italy a dynamic and enchanting experience.

We were endeared by the way the Italians said, “Oh my God,” exchanging the “d” for a “t, ” and so it became our catch phrase.

Our perfect combination of travelers included my sister Theresa, her son Max, our friend Michelle, Me (Michelle), and “The Sisters,” my Mom (Joan) and her two sisters Sandy and Janet.

The family is historical Maratea, Italy.