Thursday, December 18, 2014

Consciousness & Technology

Derby the dog: Running on 3D Printed Prosthetics

The story of Derby the dog is uplifting all who see it, and positive comments abound beneath the YouTube video that shares the pup's tale.

Watch the video to see how unique, custom 3D printed
 prosthetics allow Derby the dog to run for the first time!

While watching this touching video about a handicap foster dog named Derby and the quest to give him better mobility, I was immediately taken back to the saddest day in my early childhood, when I would have given anything for technology like this.  That was the day when my dog, Wendy (aka my Best Friend), succumbed to the duel hip dysplasia that strikes many German Shepherds, and was simply unable to stand up. 

My brothers and I wept as our Dad told us that we had to "put her down" rather than let her suffer, and my world collapsed. I begged him not to take her away.  "I'll build a cart," I pleaded, seeing in her eyes that she was still very present and happy to be with me; that cart would have looked like a makeshift version of the one Derby used before he got his 3D legs.  With my panic growing, bionic solutions flew through my young mind, inspired by the #1 TV drama of the time The Six Million Dollar Man...and quickly fell away as I realized we had no money to spend on extras for our big family, let alone animals.   Being from sturdy farm stock, my Dad was raised to never let animals suffer, and so he asked if I wanted to go along to the vet.  I simply couldn't, at age 8, accompany my best friend to her end and spent the rest of my day under the covers.  Today, I'd choose differently, of course. 

To me, this video is a hopeful sign that we've come a long way...bionics aren't sci-fi anymore, they're more affordable than ever, and they're also not just for people. What's most exciting, is that we are merging industry and inspiration with our creative applications for technology. Showing this uplifting, real world, money-saving use of the 3D technology with Derby will surely benefit this company in the long run, and that's okay with me...I call it conscious capitalism.

Watch the video to see how unique, custom 3D printed prosthetics allow Derby the dog to run for the first time.  I couldn't agree more with one viewer's pithy comment under the video, which simply says "Human beings can be awesome."  Yes, we can.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014


The LIFE CHANGES NETWORK, has released its choices for the Top 10 Independent Films That Could Change The World.  It's encouraging to think of the people who were so inspired to tackle the difficulty indie filmmaking process - from idea, to script, to production, to post, to premiere - to bring us these positive and transformational films. 

I love the number one film, "Stand With Me" and your kids probably will, too. All of the proceeds of this movie are donated to help end child slavery worldwide.

If you'd like to "live better" in 2015, then carve out an afternoon to watch one of these films with your family and follow it up with positive action.  Discuss what the positive change in your life might be: it could be as simple as clearing the pantry of nutritionless foods, or, selling cookies and lemonade for a worthy cause. Nevermind the initial griping that might ensue with your kids, just keep in mind that is simply their way of trying to gain some control in their lives, and carry on.  Stay strong, encouraging and positive throughout the process, and let them take the lead on some of the project. In doing so, you'll be fostering young leaders while also sharing a positive example of parenting and community empowerment.  They'll feel good about you, and, hopefully, be happy with their own contribution.  

What better gift can any of us give to future generations than to care and to take action?

For more about Life Changes Network, go to:

Monday, November 10, 2014



BEING Gets Intimate in Q&A with Aussie Artists Fiona Joy & Trysette 
as their third U.S. tour kicks off in the Southwest.

4 shows THIS WEEK in Albuquerque, Sedona, Tempe and Tucson!

Q:  Hi, gals, it’s great to see you again! So, for those who don’t know your show, is it safe to call it "an evening of contemporary music and storytelling?"  

A.  FIona (laughing): It's been quite a year and there are loads of new stories to tell, so, yes, that description fits nicely.

Q: This is your 3rd time ‘round the U.S., so can you tell us what new treats you have prepared for this tour?

A.  Fiona: Well, we both have new albums, which is really exciting.  I’m playing tracks from Signature – Solo, which I just recorded in hi-rez digital for my audiophile fans.  It includes “Grace” a version of which just charted on a #1 Billboard Album.  

A:  Trysette: I’ve put together a new solo album of piano and vocals to replace my 4 track EP Neutral Bay Session, which will be available exclusively at the shows.  I’m also adding brand new songs to the show, which I've been recording for my full band album due to be released in March 2015.

Q: Trysette, tell us, how are the two of you getting on these days? We’ve seen your videos, you know, and one might sense a bit of artistic "tension" at times. Any video updates in the pipeline?  

A:  Trysette:  Well, you know, Fiona is back to being “blonde” so it’s very “important” that we capture that (rolls her eyes).  We actually started making a third video on our last tour, so let's see if we can get something out this time around. It’s all on me, as usual.
Q. Fiona, are you going to get stuck with all the driving again, or will you make a stand this year? 

A. Fiona: Trysette is actually a really good driver – but I’m happy to drive and let her “help me” be better at it.  She always has the BEST "advice" on the road. (wink wink).

Q. You gals get a lot of credit for boosting the opening acts that you choose in various cities. Who’ve you got for us this year?

A. Fiona: We’ve got TheFinzer/Mahoney Duo in New Mexico and Arizona, and Jeffrey Pine in Colorado.  Both acts are  really terrific, we're excited to share them with our fans.

A.     TRYSETTE - Something we really love to do is invite a bunch of students onto the stage in Grand Junction, CO to sing on one of our songs. These students attend a workshop with us during the day before the show and we teach them the harmonies. It's a thrill for them and their parents. This year, I plan to teach them an indigenous Australian song by the Tiddas. I think they'll enjoy it. We’d love to do this in other cities, too, by the way, if there are any interested music teachers out there.

Q.    What’s next, after the tour ends in December? 
A. Fiona:  Quite a lot of globe-trotting, actually. I have an L.A.-area show in early December, then Christmas in Vermont, the Grammy's in February, China in April, presenting at the ZMR Awards in April, and an audiophile show in Munich, Germany to promote my hi-resolution album Signature – Solo.  Then I'll master Signature – Studio with Bob Ludwig in Portland, Maine, and perform at The S.H.O.W in Orange County, followed by a small Aussie tour in September and then Christmas again!

A.  TRYSETTE:  I plan to stay on here in the States to finalize and release my fourth album in March. I’m excited to do some pretty extensive touring to promote it, so maybe I’ll be back soon!

Q.  Sounds good, ladies, have a great trip, we'll see you in December in L.A.!


For more info about Fiona Joy & Trysette and local tour dates, visit Songkick

Video Links:
Throckmorton, CA performance of Trysette’s “ Silky Fingers” 2013

Tuesday, September 30, 2014


The Right Mix

 When Holistic Health Remedies Get the Cold Shoulder
 from Traditional Medical Practitioners

Has your M.D. ever made you feel like you're "cheating" on him or her when you reveal that you've taken herbal supplements? I never expected that to happen, but I found out just how narrow-minded my very traditional endocrinologist can be today at my annual Thyroid checkup and blood test. 

Ten years ago, I was diagnosed with Postpartum Thyroiditis, which set in after pregnancy. There is also a small cyst on my ever diminishing Thyroid, and I'm on about the highest dose of Levothyroxin Thyroid hormone medicine possible.  Despite healthy eating and exercise, I've never been able to return to my pre-pregnancy weight of 130 pounds, and I've struggled with chronic fatigue at times. Then, I met a terrific holistic dermatologist who listened to my whole story, and made a few simple suggestions that changed my life. 

What was the advice? She recommended that I take two Thyroid Support capsules by Gaia Herbs in the morning, and another at 2 pm, plus one dosage of Holy Basil at both times. I found the herbs at Whole Foods and on Amazon, and began to immediately feel more alert and energized without any shaky side effects. In fact, I didn't even feel the need for an afternoon coffee or tea boost, and began choosing an afternoon water instead. Over the next month, I noticed a sense of calmness, increased coping ability, and I seemed to be losing inches around my midriff, which seemed nothing short of a miracle.  Of course, the midriff is where our body stores "stress fat", so it follows that if we feel less stressed, then our "caveman brain" will begin to let go of the fat it is storing there to "protect" us from some perceived yet unrealistic threat.

Heading into my endocrinology appointment today, I was really excited that after 10 years I finally had something effective to share with my doctor at my annual visit!  I imagined that he would thank me, and begin to share this wonderful holistic approach with all of his thyroid patients.  Fat chance.

Instead, he listened, made notes, asked the dermatologist's name, and proceeded to tell me that he'll be checking my blood test very closely. In fact, he said, if my thyroid reading came back higher, he would be decreasing my dosage of Levothyroxin.  I know it's important to keep my T3 and T4 levels within a safe window, still, it felt like I was being punished for seeking "outside" help. 

On the upside, if the vitamin supplements will allow me to take less of a synthetic drug, that is something to celebrate! However, it'll cost me $30 a month more since the supplements are not covered by insurance (a topic for another day!)  Still, I'm really liking this more natural path, it just feels right. And, I'm not alone: according to the Nutrition Business Journal, sales of natural products are more than $117 billion annually.

One of the most interesting things that I discovered about Gaia Herbs is their transparent "meet your herbs" program, in which you enter the vitamin bottle's ID# to track the life of your herbs, to see the quality control tests it has passed, and to see who signed off on it. Here, I'll even allow you a peek at my very own "plant intelligence" report.

What is really smart about Gaia Herbs as a company is not only the care that they put into their products, but the time and effort they put into informing their customers and sharing their farming processes. For instance, after watching their gorgeous video (below), I feel even better about taking their herbs...and I have fewer reservations about paying a bit more for them.  It's not only smart marketing and good business, it is a positive service for people interested in practicing holistic health and wellness.

I encourage everyone to seek a balance of traditional and holistic medicines, because sometimes one or the other is simply not enough.  Keep an open mind -- it can be an incredible healer -- and have the courage to be your own best advocate in any health-related appointment.  

To learn more about natural products of all kinds, visit the Natural Products Association, founded in 1935, and look for their round green seal on approved natural products.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014


New Release

SACRED SOUND by Alanna Kaivalya

Since I am an initiate of the Sacred Sound current, and a Kirtan fan, I found this new book release very intriguing, and perhaps well overdue for a mainstream audience.  New World Library has published Sacred Sound by author Alanna Kaivalya, offering practical guidance for starting, developing, and/or improving a mantra practice. The author describes her intention for the book, writing:
    “By weaving together chants, tales, and spiritual philosophy, I hope to give you a feeling-sense of how the vibrations are brought to life by the mantra, how the mantra is vivified by the story, and how we are enlivened through the embodiment of the myth and mantra..."

Explore the book and watch the video here!

Friday, July 25, 2014


Killing Them Gently: A Happy Ending for Weeds

The Tea Garden, Huntington Botanical Library & Gardens
Photo (c) Beth Hilton, 2014

Once upon a time not very long ago, going Green meant ugly shoes, hairy armpits and overgrown yards hinting at hermitude.  But no more!  As natural remedies grow like...well, weeds...we can beautify our homes, and even our gardens, in ways we can all live with.

Last week, Nikki Fotheringham, published a terrific list of herbalist weed remedies on website, citing salt, vinegar, molasses and a recipe for an uber-effective combo of them all...check it out here!

Sunday, July 13, 2014


Fiona Joy and The Blue Dream Ensemble perform at the 10th Annual ZMR Music Awards, where Fiona takes home the #1 Piano Album award for 600 Years in a Moment. Catch her on tour this Fall 2014 in the U.S.   Click here for concert dates & tix online!

Thursday, June 26, 2014


My Favorite Things

This is my new favorite video to watch for a daily lift.  I hope you'll let it open your heart, too!

"Live the life of Grace that you were meant to..." 

                                                      -- Guru Ganesha Band

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Goodbye Piano Pet Tribute: Booboo's Theme


We all love our pets, but how many of us could write and record a 5 minute theme song dedicated to our #1 pooch and companion of 24 years? 

In an emotional goodbye, international Steinway pianist/composer Danny Wright does just that, and I don't know how he made it through the whole piece with Booboo on his lap.  You can feel the love, joy and memories flowing through him in this bittersweet tribute video, which has racked up over 2000 views in just a few days...

Wednesday, May 7, 2014


Good music writers, curators and broadcasters are becoming a rarity, which is too bad for us, as their insights often encourage us to listen to a new album, or think about an artist in a new way. Those continuing the good fight often face imposing stacks of CD submissions, the challenge of funding and maintaining their own blog or podcast, and general burnout in the face of the temperamental artistes and technical challenges that come with the territory.

Hence, our new periodic effort "We Salute."  Launched with these unsung heroes in mind, we will pay tribute and just generally "love on" music writers and podcasters who provide an incredible service to their audience with consistently excellent content. 

We begin with the hybrid writer/podcaster John Shanahan, founder of Hypnagogue. He describes himself as a writer and long-time ambient/electronic music lover living as quietly as possible in a small town south of Boston, Massachusetts.  We find John particularly worthy of salute thanks to his May "Ladies Night" broadcast built around the premiere New Age and Ambient artists such as Fiona Joy, Ann Licater and Michele de Wilton.  Listen to the Hypnogogue podcast here while you read on!

Below, is a sampling of John's honest and in-depth style of reviewing music:

"Meditative healing music with strong Native American overtones await on the soothing new release from flutist Ann Licater. Her gentle arsenal for this outing includes Native American, alto, silver and Peruvian clay flutes, along with “many sound healing instruments.” She’s joined by several musicians, including Jeff Oster on trumpet, Peter Phippen on bass, and Ivar Lunde on piano, and together they craft a lush New Age ride."    Read the full review of Invitation from Within.
RICKY KEJ: Shanti Orchestra
"You want happy? Ricky Kej has happy. On his feel-good New Age offering, Shanti Orchestra, the Bollywood composer and creator of the Kamasutra Lounge series meshes native Indian music with laid-back club beats and far-reaching world-music influences. The intent is to massage your soul into a state of bliss–which, if your tastes run to very light New Age, it probably will."   Read the full review of Shanti Orchestra. 

FIONA JOY HAWKINS: 600 Years in a Moment
In presenting an “exploration into time and history” to her listeners, Fiona Joy Hawkins employs a broad, global array of instruments and an all-star roster of contemporary instrumental talent. Will Ackerman (who also produced the disc), Philip Aaberg, Eugue Friesen, Todd Boston, Tony Levin, Charlie Bisharat and others accompany Hawkins, who steers the voyage from behind a handcrafted Australian piano. Celtic influences weave through most of the work, but all the world flavors come through clearly, courtesy of flutes, whistles, strings, didgeridoo, a shaman’s dream’s worth of percussion, woodwinds, and guitars from just about every point on the planet. These 12 tracks are washed through with equal parts melancholy and romance; they are vivid, heartfelt songs full of imagery and emotion."  Read the full review of 600 Years in a Moment.
If you're hoping to discover new music, then put on your radar.  John's reviews cover a broad spectrum of  music, from drifting ambient and quiet electro-acoustic to sound experiments and beat-driven grooves, as he says, "Because music is music."

Friday, April 25, 2014


Miriam Stockley, as Interviewed by Maya Luna Christobel

Being both a fan and acquaintance of Miriam Stockley, I'm always excited to share news updates about her music.  And, while her voice is beloved around the world, she tends to be a very humble and private person, which made this interview all the more fun for me to read! Click here to learn more about this admirable vocalist and member of the new age/world music group AOMusic!

Friday, April 11, 2014



Recently, in need of a fast-yet-fun eatery for a casual meeting, I recalled that a new restaurant called Lemonade had opened up in Studio City, CA. We popped in after 8 pm, delighted to find the bright and welcoming space comfortably busy, smelling wonderful and the cafeteria-style line still brimming with fresh food.  My guest and I were amazed by the array of fresh salads, delicious appetizers, stews, breads and desserts, complemented by the fresh lemonade of your choosing (my fave: cucumber mint!).  

Lemonade is restaurateurs/entrepreneurs Alan Jackson and Ian Olsen's 14-location mission to redefine fast casual dining in So Cal, and they certainly seem to be succeeding. Guests surrounding us in the indoor/outdoor seating space ranged from a mother/son duo to hip couples and most notably, several tables of young guys raving about how much they love the simple/healthy menu, and, actually eat there every day. It's not surprising, as the flavorful yet simple food is served up without the usual "you're eating alone" stigma, and the seasonally-evolving menu is vast enough to make daily dining attractive. Check out your local Lemonade menu.

Our dinner, enthusiastically-shared, included six salad servings from quinoa to beets to kale to curried cauliflower and a peanut-based slaw; main servings of a Meditteranean-style chicken stew and a Basque chicken dish, herbed brown rice; and lemonade choices of Cucumber/Mint and Guava.  There were lots of leftovers, and takeout is encouraged with handy little containers available.  The total cost: $39.

Lemonade is creating a stir. It's hard to know if the clever restaurateurs planned it this way, but the well-lit decor and beautifully-designed food have Lemonade blowing up on social media.  It's "old meets new" as the Paleo-leaning dishes become the colorful subjects of cellphone images shared to their Twitter, Facebook and Instagram pages...a most relevant sign of success in our 2.0 world, reinforced by the impending opening of a space in Dubai.

Rating (crawl/walk/run): Run!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Friday, March 14, 2014

The Book Thief: Death be Afraid

I unexpectedly fell in love during my rush to watch all the new movies before Oscar night. The movie was The Book Thief, which I expected to be good - but depressing - yet I came out of it feeling like I'd found a gem. I fell in love with the characters, the cast, and the story, but mostly with the lyricism of the narration. I will buy this one on DVD - a rare act these days - but I want an old-school physical copy to live on my shelf, among my other favorites: Out of Africa, A River Runs Through It, Ordinary People, and about 25 more which, I just realized, are mostly book adaptations.  

I never thought about having a movie "type," but there it turns out I love movies adapted from books when the movie really uses choice quotes and artfully conveys the beauty of the words. There are a lot that don't make it. I hope that the author, Markus Zusak, and the screenplay adaptor Michael Petroni, know that they've succeeded together in this challenge, despite the few Oscar nominations (which says more about the tastes of the Academy than about the quality of this film) and some snarky reviews on 

I also love movies with metaphysical themes, so there is also a match there to some degree. The Book Thief is based on the international bestselling novel of the same name, about a girl brought from Russia by her mother to be fostered by a German couple.  The author chooses Death himself to narrate the story, but turns the concept of death upside down, making it ruthless yet curious, bewildered, and somewhat afraid of humans, especially brave ones like Liesel, our heroine. Through her life's challenges during WWII and beyond, Liesel learns to embrace the beauty and power of words as a way to survive, soothe, heal and ultimately, live well into old age before Death can meet her.

I haven't yet received my copy of the book (yes, I also buy "real books", not downloads) but I can't wait to look up one of the voiceovers toward the end that beautifully captured Liesel's perspective and writing. It paints a vivid and apropos picture of the sweet musical father and harsh mother who'd adopted her, and goes something like this (in my mind, anyway):

"On a street called Heaven, there was a man with the heart of an accordion, and a woman cloaked in thunder...." 

A few other favorites

"Trust me, though, the words were on their way, and when they arrived, Liesel would hold them in her hands like the clouds, and she would wring them out like rain.” 

"It's always been the same. The excitement and rush to war. I met so many young men over the years who have thought they were running at their enemy, when the truth was, they were running to me." -Narrator/Death

“If only she could be so oblivious again, to feel such love without knowing it, mistaking it for laughter. ” 

  1. "I am haunted by humans."
    (Death, the last line of the novel, p. 550)

The Book Thief released this week on DVD and Blue Ray.  See clips, reviews, and enter to win a free copy of the DVD from the talented young blogger Kimmy West on her excellent Page to Premiere blog!   

Oh, and for those of you who did find this subject matter just too bleak for words, you will find sympathy and hilarity in this "reading" by Mark on his blog Mark Readswhich starts out Part 10,
The Book Thief
 what the f*+k

Watch the official trailer:

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

David Lanz & Kristin Amarie: A Love Story for the New Age

Emerging indie artist Kristin Amarie is a global citizen: born in Norway, she grew up in various countries including India, incorporating the music of various cultures into her own vocal style along the way.  Upon hearing the piano music of David Lanz, she was compelled to cross the globe for one of his Seattle workshops.  Over time, a love story emerged, and both artists began channeling this new energy into their recent solo works as well as a few collaborations, including lyric writing by Lanz, a rarity.  This casual chat on THE BUZZ explores their love, life and new music on Notes from a Journey (Amarie) and Movements of the Heart (Lanz)...

Monday, February 10, 2014

Capturing Love in a Song

When there just are no words, people are finding that Danny Wright is there to put their emotions into song.

Over the last decade, and from all over the world, people have reached out to Danny Wright, the composer and pianist also referred to by his loyal fans as The Healer of Hearts, hoping he can capture their love story in song. Word-of-mouth has spread of Wright’s unique gift for capturing a life or love story with his piano, and, to date, the artist estimates he has composed about 175 songs for loved ones here on earth or "already in heaven" as the soft-spoken artist would say.  The pieces written for these are shared on Danny's albums such as Full of Love, Gifts from the Heart, Reflections and even on his new reissue of the classic Real Romance.

A serene space for composing in Danny Wright's home.
Danny describes how he goes about gathering inspiration for each personal love song, saying “Once someone sends me a paragraph about their loved one’s personal story or their love story, I take some time to live with it. When it feels ready, I set aside time to meditate on the piece just before recording it in a very relaxed studio atmosphere. At that point, I feel that God takes over and the music simply flows through me until it seems peaceful and, somehow, complete. Some pieces are longer than others, and they vary quite a bit within the solo piano style. I feel really blessed and honored when people hear their song for the first time and call me, often in tears, saying that I truly captured the essence of their love story or beloved family member. On some occasions, they even order sheet music of the song to learn to play it for themselves.”

Danny recalls an example of a moving experience when a fan connected with Danny to create a song for his wife who had passed away. Sharing his feedback on the song creation experience showed Danny the importance a song can have in the healing process.

“Words are very difficult to describe how I feel about the song ‘My Guiding Light (Barb).’ The best I can come up with is WOW," the fan wrote in an email to Danny.  "It’s absolutely stunningly beautiful - somehow capturing the many beautiful, varied traits of her, a simply wonderful wife, Mom and friend to many. There is something very, very magical about this song...the way you have captured her many different traits and woven them into a tapestry of her as a person, sends a very warm shiver up my spine. Every time I listen to the piece, I feel different facets of her, which add to the picture you have painted with the song. I often take a blank piece of paper and write down different words/things that came to mind as I listen to the song. It's fascinating! I feel very blessed to have met you and have this wonderful keepsake made in memory of my wife, Barb.”

The composer and pianist, who is also a Steinway artist, can be reached for requests and more information via the contact page of his website at: 

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

The Year of the Yang Wood Horse: Unbridle Your Energy!

As Chinese animals go, I still find it a little embarrassing to say "I'm a Snake."  And, if you know anything about how Chinese Astrology works, you'll know that I'm really happy to say goodbye to the last 12 months aka the Year of the Water Snake
*Need to find out which animal sign you were born under? Visit What's Your Sign now!*
After everything I've read over the past two weeks, I'm extremely excited about this Chinese New Year, as we move out of five years of deconstruction, and begin to feel the unbridled energy of the Wood Horse!  Are you feeling it already?  I find myself chomping at the bit for change in the form of positive improvements, new ways to express my creativity, and the promise of better relationships at work and play. 

If you still haven't explored what the year might hold for you, there are many places to do so.  Below is an excerpt of what Karen Abler Carrasco, WSFS Consultant, Mentor and Teacher writes about this year on the Western School of Feng Shui website:
"Now to turn our gaze to the animal symbol of Horse. This sprouting upward rush of Wood energy will find its perfect release into the impulsive and passionate nature of the Yang Horse, whose native element is Fire.  The Horse energy inspires powerful INTUITION and an indomitable surge towards freedom in every aspect of life. This is a year to follow your inner voice like never before, for it will have a universal cosmic ch’i within it.  Higher guidance is with us every step of the way.  Reach for the sky, call up your vision, fuel your plans with vision boards and creativity, find a fresh path and pace yourself well.  This yang Horse year has the potential to channel the powerful new upthrust of Wood’s Ch’i through the Horse’s Heart energy of Fire and into every project we start, every desire we reach for.  It will keep our eager plans from being dominated by too much “head” and not enough “heart.”
I don't know about you, but it sounds like just what we need to get our lives and communities back on track! Explore the fascinating full prediction by Western School of Feng Shui here, and lots of gorgeous Year of the Horse imagery.

Business folks, you might also enjoy this article on Huffington Post about money tips for the Year of the Horse.

Families can explore the Chinese New Year and its traditional celebrations on the fun-loving website China Family Adventure. 

Wishing you luck, and a happy, healthy and prosperous year ahead!

zhù nǐ hǎo-yùn 

祝 你 好运