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Phoenix Heart

 
 

It's January 8th, 2017. Today would have been David Bowie's 70th birthday. Instead, two days from now many of us will mourn the one year anniversary of his passing. My first post in this blog was shortly after that, discussing how his death affected me as a person and an artist. Right now as I write this post, "Rock n Roll Suicide" is playing on my turntable, the encore from the David Bowie Live Santa Monica '72 album, the song I love so much I tattooed a lyric from it over my heart. "Oh no love, you're not alone." "Ho lo ahuva, lo at l'vod."

It's 2017, and one year ago today I was in Jerusalem with a group of strangers, a few of whom had become fast friends. We visited the Kotel and I said a prayer, felt the presence of my Jewish grandfather that I never met, and thanked the city and the spirits for a special day. I wore a Bowie shirt, in honor of his birthday, and thought of all the things I had to be grateful for. Three days later, eleven days into the year, while sitting in an Israeli national park, I found out my hero had died in the night.

It's 2017, and 2016, the garbage year that so many of us struggled and fought through and hopefully survived, is over. My hope is that 2017 will be better, some would say it has to be, but then we look at the state of politics and social divisions in America and I'm not so sure, but I have to have hope. (I tattooed that on me, too.)

It's 2017, it's Bowie's birthday, and I'm remembering Bowie, the icon, someone I never saw live, but whose music and artistry and passion I loved. Bowie was never afraid to be who he was, whoever that was, and was not afraid for that to change, dramatically and often.

 
I feel confident imposing change on myself. It’s a lot more fun progressing than looking back. That’s why I need to throw curveballs.
— David Bowie
 

That concept is key to me, as an artist - to be willing, able, and sometimes even eager to change. As a Taurus, I am innately opposed to change, so it's something I constantly struggle with. However I think a focus on progress, moving forward, and evolving is important. Letting things die so new things can be born is a part of life. And that idea is why I relate so strongly to the iconography and lore of the mythical phoenix.

 
Fascinating creatures, phoenixes. They can carry immensely heavy loads, their tears have healing powers, and they make highly faithful pets.
— Albus Dumbledore, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
 

Phoenixes, in addition to all the traits above, are most known as creatures of rebirth, bursting into flames and being reborn from the ashes. If ever there was an artist who was a phoenix, it was Bowie, constantly creating and killing new personas every few years, from Ziggy Stardust and Aladdin Sane to Halloween Jack and the Thin White Duke. Ultimately all of these characters became disposable in the face of something new. All simultaneously eternal, ephemeral, and empty. 

2016 was full of many goodbyes, celebrity deaths, jobs ending, life changing, and 2017 will be no different. In August Fuerza Bruta, where I had worked for nearly six years, finally closed off-Broadway. Next week I face saying goodbye to my new Broadway family at Jersey Boys when the show ends its historic eleven-year run on January 15th. After performing with the company at Gypsy of the Year last month, I have truly felt a part of the JB family at the August Wilson Theatre, and next week's ending is sure to be a tearful one for many including myself. I admit auditioning and other career moves have been on a bit of a slow track over the last couple months as I've spent almost every day at one job or another and almost every night at Jersey Boys, seeing the run through to its close. But even big Broadway machines eventually die (except Phantom). So now I face two months of less certainty in my work life, another opportunity to reinvent my future, a chance to lay the groundwork for 2017.

Beginning is challenging. Starting new is scary. But if one of the biggest pop stars of all time could do it, very publicly, and right up to the very end of his life, I think I'll be alright. Let's light this fire together, everybody. May your 2017 be full of bravery, risks, adventure, and success.

 
My new year's tarot spread today, with my Bowie deck. The death card came up today, as it has every year at the start of the year. Big ch-ch-ch-changes ahead!

My new year's tarot spread today, with my Bowie deck. The death card came up today, as it has every year at the start of the year. Big ch-ch-ch-changes ahead!

 

L'shanah Tovah

 
Sunset in Aruba, shutting the book on another day and another chapter.

Sunset in Aruba, shutting the book on another day and another chapter.

 

I was away on "vacation" last week, but since that vacation involved watching 2-5 kids between the ages of 6 and 10 for great portions of the time, I didn't do much relaxing. I've had a couple days off since I got back though, for better or worse, and have spent that time thinking a lot about the turning of calendar pages and turning of the leaves.

Friday was a new moon - a time for new beginnings and new intentions - and last night signaled the beginning of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. I don't know about you, but I've had a rough 2016 and I'm very ready to move on to a new year so I will happily welcome 5777 and bid adieu to the past. (Any year that begins with David Bowie dying can't possibly go well; I suppose I shouldn't be surprised.) I believe strongly in the energies of the universe, changes in the seasons and the calendar pages falling away as time passes and using those times to harness energy in our own lives. While autumn can be seen as a time of hunkering down for the hibernation of winter, it is also a time of preparation, which is a word that syncs up nicely with the start of a new moon cycle and a new year. What is there to prepare for? What do we want to manifest in our lives in the coming month or year?

I'm taking some time today to define what I want the near future to look like... It's been a very turbulent year, to say the least, with a lot of uncertainty and self-reflection beginning with my birthright trip in January and continuing into the present. It certainly feels like life is tossing me about right now and it's hard to find my footing in the storm. So I'm ready for the winds of change to pick a direction - they can keep blowing tempestuously, if I just knew which way to go!

So no big news to share today, folks, just wishing you all a happy, healthy, and sweet new year (or new moon, or new month). May we all find the sweetness we seek in the coming days, whether that's a job that leads to financial stability, a gig that is artistically fulfilling, a relationship that is inspiring, or something completely different!

Balance

Hello beautiful friends, here is a tarot spread for all you aching artists out there on this autumnal equinox. I have felt very out of sorts this month with so many changes in my usual routine, between jobs ending, the kids I nanny for going back to school, creative work not panning out the way I had planned, etc.  But we are finally out of Mercury retrograde (yay!) so it is time to restore some sanity to our lives, and equinoxes are all about balance, when the day and night are of equal length.

Image and spread layout credit to interrobangtarot.com

Image and spread layout credit to interrobangtarot.com

Prisma Visions tarot deck by James R. Eads (click to enlarge image)

1. Knight of Swords - there is something ironic in the idea of great balance in conflict, but the Knight is also about a boldness, a readiness to tackle unpleasant tasks.  We are doing our damn best to deal with all the tough events life has thrown at us this year, from deaths of great figures to deaths of innocent human beings. The Knight of Swords specifically can be a cold an unfeeling character, intimating that we have become desensitized to the violence and trouble around us. This is certainly a defense mechanism, but we are reminded...

2. Eight of Chalices - that there is strength in our emotions. The adventurer here is leaving his past behind, supported by a staff of chalices, the symbol of emotion. He walks into the unknown, and here we are out of balance. We are afraid for the future, a completely reasonable place to be with the current presidential election looming closer in the coming weeks. It is time for us to get in tune with our emotional selves as we have been so focused on the outside world.

3. XVIII The Moon - This card is one of reflection, of a world turned upside down or inside out in the night. The energy to take from The Moon is one of careful contemplation, seeing things for what they really are, or in a new light. It is time to confront what you have been ignoring in the bright days of summer as the nights get longer.

4. Four of Swords - As artists we are vessels for stories, always listening and observing and absorbing the chaos around us in an effort to make a more peaceful, harmonious world. Our energies, when turned outside of ourselves, are focused on maintaining a contemplative environment, a world that harnesses its power for prosperity instead of strife.

5. Queen of Wands - In ourselves, our energies are harnessed into a powerhouse of intellect that cannot be contained. We have nurtured ourselves this summer in sunlight, long days and late nights and community. Let us remember, then, as the nights begin to stretch longer than the days that...

6. Three of Chalices - We are members of that joyous community, working to create that harmonious world. We cannot isolate ourselves in the darkness of the coming months but must, as we did in summer, find a balance between our own desires for hibernation and the isolation that can bring. Reach out to your community, and be that wise pillar and receptacle for experience with others to create something new and beautiful.

7. Eight of Wands - This card reminds us of two opposing forces: that we have accomplished much, traversed difficult paths, and make it to solid ground, but we are not yet done. There is more work ahead to reach our goals. The balance here comes from recognizing our progress and achievements while always striving for more. Energy will flow from us, to accomplish more, when we realize what we have already achieved within. Focus on how far you have come, and that will inspire you to go further.

May your Mabon or Autumnal Equinox be a blessed one, friends, and may balance be restored to your lives as Mercury returns to its direct path today. I am two days away from a week-long vacation, and intend to use that time to realign my energies for a fresh look at the work ahead (time to pull the play out again) when I return. What energy will you change as the leaves change?