Welcome to Carolyn Cowan Online; Designer, photographer, teacher, mother, counsellor and bodypainter.
Archive for November, 2006
We had another evening of Kirtan last night. It was great. Really noisy, really energetic, high and elevated. The children, 4 of them were amazing, sitting for an hour and a half singing, meditating and playing instruments. Sometimes the noise was awful and I really had to keep smiling to not mind, but those moments were not for too long and the sheer pleasure of all the effort that was made more than made up for any awful noises.
It is a big step to start this group. It feels that to me. I had been told years ago that I could not and should not sing. I knew it was said to hurt, and in my youth and stupidity I let it hurt a lot. I have really enjoyed coming around to liberating my voice, and I love it. Not neccesarily the voice itself, but the experience of chanting, especially with others is so fantastic. The energy that radiates off the body after is just Divine.
We are filling the shop with stock today. The sitting room is full of piles of numbered stock. It is amazing how much we are going to squeeze into that little space, and make to intriguing, irresistible, and infinitely wonderful for Christmas. I need to gird my loins and get on with it. I am fiddling with unimportant things.
We had a long meeting yeaterday about the GBYF. It was fun. The festival has been building up over the past two years and next year the theme is rather interesting. The number will be 9. Mastery and Mystery is the title. We now have to invite all the teachers we know we want and throw open the door to the others who would like to spread their wings. My task today is the invites and letters.
Otherwise I am hitting a few rough patches in the build up to two shops. I am over tired and find myself less well boundaried. I slept for 8 hours last night and do feel better, but to add to the fun I am trying to persuade, I am succeeding at getting, Isadora to sleep in her own bed. Four years on I think it is time she had her independence. She has been resisting. Not too strongly, but I notice that I was sleeping really lightly to hear if she was OK. Several days into the experience, I let it go and slept well.
I had a great dream about Yogi Bhajan a couple of nights ago. It was so real and vibrant that I can still see him so clearly. As usual, he was laughing at the antics. It does help to be light about all of it, when the teacher thinks it is funny. When I am over tired I have no defences against my mind. I find it really hard to stop thinking obsessively and it winds me up even further.
The journey towards a state of peace is a tricky one and it is important to be so watchful of the games that the mind plays with itself.
I like to dip into the news on the BBC website. There is a wonderful piece today about a Bollywood actress and her Bollywood actor partner. I cannot remember their names, but they are hesitating to announce their engagement because their horoscopes may not be compatible. So delightful. What a great way to plan your future. How many of us would be in marriages if theis was how it was decided?Posted in
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I have had some quite extraordinary conversations with women recently. A spate of the same conversation over and over without consciously instigating it, each time end up at the same place.
I could easily be labelled as a feminist here, but I am sure that I am not and anyway, I have really gone off labels. I digress. Easy to digress here rather than go for the deal. This is probably on a par with expecting a fatwah, but obviously those that give them out are not trawling my weblog. Hey ho.
The basic gist of the dialogue has been about what is going on around relationships with men. Fortunately I do not have a hugely male readership, or if I do, they are keeping quiet thus far, but it is being noted that a lot of the hairier sex are feeling the effects of women choosing enlightenment and not liking it. Women choosing enlightenment is a fairly sweeping statement. I know not all women are choosing this route, but the numbers are rising. It is manifesting in Yoga, meditaion, chanting, mind body spirit events and large shows at Olympia. A male friend turned up at the Yoga Show and the securty guard onthe door leaned forward to whisper to him that he was the only male attendee. Wild.
I sit in AA meetings and there are far more men than women. I know that means nothing, but it is important. 4% of men survive the disease, but only 3% of women. Yes, it could be that they don’t go to enough meetings. I am really going sideways here and cannot see a way back to my theme, because you could also argue that it may be that they are all doing yoga, hence the low survival rate, but they are not, certainly not until they get some recovery.
My point is that the balance has changed and the conversation that keeps repeating itself is that more and more women are taking responsability for their lives on many levels and one of those levels is the spirit. Women have always had 4 ways of beiing enlightened: give birth to a saint, serve a saint or marry a saint, and up till now this is what they have traditionally done. They have left out the big one: do it for themselves. 2000 years of patriarchy and it is an increasingly good idea. Obviously they are still giving birth to saints, but a lot of the other options are not being fulfilled and to seems that the males are feeling a little miffed, off balance and out of sorts.
It has been noticed. Of course our liberation may yet prove to be our downfall. I was stroking a wasp yesterday, (not a cross man, a real wasp), and offered to show some children near me how to do it. The man, who I know, that was with them looked at me in such a way that I suddenly thought……. If we get any closer to the Middle Ages in terms of religious bigotry and anger, than we already are, then all of us “out-there women” are for the chop. We give away so much evidence of our love of liberation and our longing to go forward that I can well see the whole place turning into a bed of Bhurquas with public burnings coming back into fashion along with an extension of the cliterodectomy laws to include women who think they deserve a crack at life.
Subversive stuff, I know, but we are living in interesting times. Things are changing very fast.
I think the bottom line is this. Women, the female line, have always been blamed for Adam eating the apple. There is an emerging statement that is changing everything, and that is “you chose to eat it”. This is why the men are getting angry. The responsability is all being put on them and they are not happy.
I was taken to see a medium this week. It was fun. We went to Belgrave Square and sat on red velvet chairs in neat rows and a man pulled energy out of the air around him and tried to find one of us that fitted it. Apparently he was very good.
That does not say too much about what I felt, I know, but was assured that he was very good. He was funny and charming, which could be a relief, but could also be seen to be somewhat irreverent towards death. That I did like. The fact that he accepted it and made light, not really light, but normal of it. It was the normalness that made it seem light. What was really interesting was the brown shadow behind his head that darkened and faded as he lost the connection and became richer and deeper as he found it. As he ended the shadow turned rich purple and then dissappeared. Pouf! I was quite mesmerised by it. More than his music hall style and banter. With a couple of the audience he was good, streaming loads of stuff and leaving them in tears. Others he was plucking straws and they, we were grapsing them. It was fun.
We had our first Kirtan Evening last night. That was great. The children were fabulous and the expectations of elevation were more than met. I used to be so intimidated by singing. Power given to a boyfriend many years ago who told me I could not and should not ever sing. I did get over it a while a ago, but it has taken time to be fully comfortable singing out loud, and now I am it is a joy. We were all in fine voice and the kids played marracas and drums. We will be doing it again every wednesday and will work towards being really great.
We are opening one shop in Dulwich for a month next week and have a lease on another for 15 years from the end of December. There is a lot going on. It feels great. Apparently I am glowing. I did not feel it yesterday afternoon. I seem to spend most of my days in the car, driving kids backwards and forwards and when I am at my desk there are so many phones going, doorbells ringing and meals to cook that I felt quite overwhelmed. And then at 4.30am there seems not much that needs doing and I fiddle and relax then go an do my daily practice. Silly really. I should do a list and nail it to the screen of my computer, and not be allowed out until I have dotted every I and crossed every T. But by the same token it is hard to do too much now because I am not fully in the december shop and if it fell through I would have committed myself financially and would have nothing.
One friend is suggestion I go with shop fitters right from the start. That they do it all for me, within a specified date. I am considering it. Rather faintly. More interesting is to work to a budget. Think things through and take responsability.
A whirl of unanswered questions, mostly posed by me and not answered by a Divine Entity who will tell me that I am doing really well and it will all be perfect.
I am having, choosing to, move into a whole new level of taking responsability for myself and all that I want to achieve. Scary, huge and great fun. I am looking forward enormously to is all going swimmingly and having a fabulously successful shop, filled with people buying endless things that I can effortlessly replace.
I think it is important to stay positive and enthusiastic about the whole thing but have an undercurrent of white fear that keeps me on my toes all the time…
I have another new project. I am unclear as to how I will get there. I need someone to do a load of design work, get it printed in India and voila! There it is. Life is so simple, in my head, but reality can really get in the way. The head, the wonderful head that gets so profoundly in the way. I have had so many moments in my life when the answer to life has been so clear and so simple that all I wanted was to tattoo “the answer” on my hand so I could remember that it was the solution to all my issues. of course by now I would have to be reading from my armpit with all manner of phrases crossed out going up my arms. Instead of a list of lovers it would be a crossed out list of “phrases that came with epiphanies. Sweet thoughts.
We had culcha this afternoon. We went to the Tate Modern, to go on the slide. It was a 10 second wow with a 40 minute wait. it was a one-off. We then wandered aimlessly around galleries with dead crows arrowed onto the wall or a squashed iron balcony. Lovely. Hard to explain it all to the kids and my acid comments have never gone down well with those who think “modern” is great.
But the slides were wonderful, the gallery was filled tot he gills and the sun was shining. We had an afternoon of Culcha and it was free. I came out feeling exhausted by it. I think it is my natural reaction to bullshit, but I seemed to to be the only one affected so it must be a personal hysteria. I am not sure I will ever get over it nor am I sure I want to. Ever the rebel, but really, what on earth for. Picasso spending his life trying to paint like achild. And here I am trying to learn something. Which of us is wasting time? perhaps it is me. I am not up in the Tate Modern, but do I want to be? Not so far. Please give me a kick if it emerges as an ambition.
On another note, it is getting exciting, designing the shop. The ideas are starting to work together. There is an image emerging, and I am starting to get used to the idea of all the changes. We went to Lots Road Auction rooms today to have a look at the furniture. Nothing interesting for the shop, but lots of lovely lots. Nothing stayed in my mind, even two minutes after walking past it, which is always a really good sign not to buy. So we escaped without leaving any bids.
Saints is a big word. Some Christians find it hard to grasp the idea that there could be any kind of saints other than those prescribed or chosen by the Pope. Eastern countries, particularly India, have no problem with seeing all manner of people as living saints and accord them much veneration. Take the GuruChannel. It is the only reason I would want satellite TV, to see all those delightful men with doves flying behind them, radiating pulses of blue light above their heads. (These are visual effects put there by the TV station to enhance the saint’s saintliness, they are not emanations by the saints themselves. At least I think so…….) Just for balance and open mindedness, there are the occaisional women talking. Always old women. Everyone has lovely flowing hair and big bindhis. Signs of saintliness. They smile and talk about all manner of great things in Hindi. I don’t speak Hindi, yet, but I can guess how marvellous it is by their expressions. I smile and nod with them.
I am being somewhat cynical? I don’t mean to be. I am facinated by the culture of Saints. I have a friend, a girlfriend, who is a saint. She has done very well. She has her own religion. What a great idea. What would mine be? I don’t want to commit to anything in the ethers, but I think it would have a lot to do with not giving away your power, taking responsability for yourself and your actions, and being allowed a certain amount of flexibility in choice of clothes. I will think further.
I am not going to start my own religion, I promise. I don’t think I believe in it. What I am really interested in is coming to a place of awareness and emanation. Awareness of my mind and it’s games, learning not to go there, making it my servant not my master. A tall order, I notice. It is slippery, the mind, it has no limits to how awful and cruel it can be. I am watching constantly. Emanation is trying to be aware of always putting the soul first. Compassion, patience, tolerance, acceptance, trust. I don’t suceed too well at this, either, but I am working on it.
Where I am confounded is in the idea that we need, desire or want to come to a place of being unaffected by the highs and lows of life. That no matter what is going on I am in a state of balance, trusting, accepting and allowing Ha! I fail miserably, and at the same time, cannot think of anyone I know who has arrived at this place. I would like feedback here. Does anyone have the ability to remain centered no matter what? Does anyone know anyone that can, really truly, not be budged from their perch of perfection? Is there someone who is not an exploding doormat in secret, not madly acting out when alone, not a rager on the sly? Please do let me know. I look around me, in Peckham, in life in general and in my memory, and cannot say that I have met a person who has arrived at this place. Added to that, is it going to be fun, amusing, interesting, nice, to be there? Do I want to arrive so early in my life. I am convinced I will live to be 97. That means I am half way through. I have things to do, lessons to learn, issues to understand, enlightenment to find. But like the offer in India, to have my Kundalini raised, BANG! just like that, I don’t want to get to the destination too soon. Apperently once you get there, there are more layers of understanding to go through. Thank goodness. It could seem awfully long otherwise, eternal bliss. But beside all of this, I berate myself for being affected by life. For getting stressed, for being irritable. Yogi Bhajan said “the only difference between you and me is that I totally accept myself”. I think about this a lot. Acceptance. Sometimes I get it. Mostly I don’t. Maybe there is a homeopathic remedy for acceptance. I must ask. Get someoone else to fix me.Posted in
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We heard yesterday that we have the shop.
Life is suddenly looking rather different. I have been thinking about all the changes it will bring, and they are many, but whilst it was not an known event it was just thoughts. Now it is reality, and the consequences are big and exciting.
We went out to dinner last night to talk about the project and to really ground ourselves into what needed to be done and how to get it all happening. When we left the restaurant the car was gone. It was such a wierd feeling to be standing by an empty space where, a short while before, the lovely Jezebel the landrover, had been quietly waiting. Getting her back was a trip and quite fun. I could not stop apologising for being so stupid and parking on a bay that was paying until 10pm. I did not know they even existed, but me and Ken Livingston are not communicating too well right now.
We went to Lots Road car lot where a big sign expected us to produce insurance documents, household bills, driving license……
The charming young Muslim on the till, (I wondered if he was placed there especially to stop anyone being rude and angry because no one likes a fatwah), asked if perhaps I had bills in the car. I smiled sweetly and thought of how it was going to feel to go all the way home, get the bills, the license….. Then I remembered. I had a catalogue in the car, with my photo in it. I could prove that the car was mine. I was allowed through all the security and ended up in the carpark with a group of men and a torch all looking at the catalogue and telling me about their backaches and physical issues. Sweet. Sadly they would not let me off the ¬£200 in exchange for a discount on some CDs.
We are starting a chanting group at home next week. I am so looking forward to it. In the search for images for the flier, none of which I used by the way only took inspiration from, I found an article with brain scans on Google. They had proved that 12 minutes of Kirtan profoundly alters tha brain. How fabulous. It has a long term effect on Alzheimer patients. Not only them, I promise. It has an effect on me, too. And I am currently unable to listen to anything except Krishna Dass, Pilgrim Heart. Totally fabulous.
Time flies and I have not written for days. This is partly because of being fabulously busy, but also because I did not have much to say. I write now out of a feeling that I want to keep up the effort, not because I am bursting with news.
Writing weblog is an interesting experience in self-censorship. I cannot write about such a vast array of things that I feel and experience because they are not at all appropriate. I can write about other things, and consciously choose to, even though people may think they are inappropriate, but they are at least not too personal or revealing, even though some of the observations are highly inflammable. I have on occaision mentioned colleagues by name in my writing and am shocked to discover that they read the weblog, and then get upset. One person has not talked to me for months. At this point it seems they may never talk to me again. It is a powerful medium, the internet, and I spend ages, hours and energy trying to get my website found so that the business builds. I write one tiny line early one morning and pouf! a friendship ends.
This is the beginning of week three since we made an offer on the shop. Last week the suspense was awful. This week it is getting boring, but our commitment to the idea has not waned. I have got over the idea of having two shops for christmas, which could be said to be a relief. To try to get that happening now would verge on nightmarish. So we just carry on with the daily stuff and I jump a little when the phones ring, which they do a lot, in case this is the first day of the rest of my life. Sounds big, and by golly, it is huge. The changes that will come from this one moment of making an offer will alter so much.
We were at a huge show this week I was surprised how good it was. Absolutely heaving, and we were in a great location. It was good for my confidence, the way the clothes sold, as it is my first collection that I have designed, withthe help of the lovely Amanda, lounging in LA now, but the clothes were sucessful. Phew!
Yesterday was fantastically awful. Just a truly hard day, and I was deply challenged to remember that I had tools to deal with it and I could make the choice to use them. I did, and the day improved, but slowly. I struggled for several hours.
By contrast today has been great. Totally fab from 4.30am until now. I have had a really great time. Lots of laughing, really good contacts with people, new connections, problems softening and generally a great energy.
I think it is all my fault. That I make it the way it is. Please don’t for a moment presume that I think i am God, I have no such conception, but I do believe that we have far more influence over ourselves and our lives than we assume, take, accept, use. All these words fit the description.
If this is so, then the moment of power really is right now. I can make it go any way I please, but the Christian, Catholic, guilt ridden, human part of me does not want to pick up the staff and be in charge of it. I prefer to be aware hat it is there and thrilled when I remember, but not want the responsability of it 24/7. Why not? It is insane to do it any other way, but I resist the next level of existence, yet suffer where I am.
Insanity: The definition of. Repeating an action expecting a different result. Gosh, I am guilty of that. But getting more conscience of it. Yet again, like yesterday with the resistence to using the tools that I know will help me, it is wierdly insane.
I wander. I will stop.