The Umaverse: Photographic Art and Tarot Readings

For your rooms and walls: Photographic Art

For your inner spaces and growth: Tarot Readings

After years of daydreaming and night dreaming, talking and musing, dipping in and retreating, it’s official. Today I hang out the “open for business” sign. Come on in and look around at my new store, The Umaverse.

Welcome!

Notwithstanding that I am not a lover of long-term plans (because I tend to not stick to them), the basic idea is that UmaBode.com (where you are now) will come back to life as a blog of all things Uma, while the new site, TheUmaverse.com, is for commerce of all things Uma. That’s right, you can now buy Uma goods and services!

As for this blog – I really need to get back on that horse. I have so much to say and it’s not really fair to my lunch dates that they have to listen to me go on and on about every damn topic I care about. That’s what you-all are supposed to be for!

So, have a look at the new site and get yourself something for your walls and something for your soul. Either or both—I’m happy to help.

Stay Focused on the Heart

Resist the urge to get overly angry today. Resist the urge to polarize so much that we are unable to work together and make alliances and see whatever it is that our possibly fascist new administration is plotting. Don’t fall prey the polarizing rhetoric on social media and the news. Stay focused on love, see with the eye of your heart, and keep aware of what the hell is going on. Make calls to politicians and the White House, but just turn a deaf ear on the endless arguments that permeate all media. I find that twitter is a huge huge mistake right now. Just allows too much immediate reason for anger and division. Stay away, my friends! Have a beautiful day – don’t forget, it’s still a beautiful world.

Uma, over and out.

 

the Mystery

Religion. Spirituality. God.

We are religious, or we are not religious. We are spiritual, but not religious. We are atheists. We are agnostics. We pray to Jesus, our savior. We pray to God. We pray but not to anything. We go to church. We meditate. We do yoga. We travel to an ashram in India. We join a church. We move to a new church. We tell our children some version of what we were told. We try to say it like we mean it.

But…what IS it that drives us to these things, whatever they may be, that come under the category “religion.”

What IS religion? What IS God? What IS spirituality?

Having spent a lifetime concerned with this, focused on this, in one form or another: studying it at university, esoteric schools, hindu gurus, yoga, finding teachers and leaving teachers, meditation, now…I find it more and more to be, um, well, mysterious, frankly. Vague. Unclear.

I notice that we humans seem to have a tendency to corral ourselves into belief systems, (whether traditional or new age), into concepts of what God is or is not, what to believe or not to believe, what our life “means,”  and other such burning situations that come under the category of Spirituality and Religion.

Because aren’t they just a way to separate ourselves from each other? And what do we know, really?

It seems to me that mistrust grows bigger and bigger in me all the time. Mistrust of anything outside of my own heart and mistrust of any idea, institution or teacher.

And at the same time, paradoxically, TRUST grows bigger in me all the time. Trust of my own heart’s knowing and my own path unfolding and what my gut tells me is true. For me.

As Vanessa Stone says, “Your Life, exactly as it is, is the perfect prescription for the evolution of your soul.”

I’m on it. What about you?

 

Thinking About God

 

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about God.

The Beloved.

All that is, and all that animates all that is.

The One and The Way.

The fragmented fullness of your path unfolding.

The Living Map.

Trust it.

YES, I Went to Florida!

It was the morning of April 21st and I was sitting in the room in Raleigh that I had rented through Airbnb. My new friend (Liz, from Israel) who I had not yet met in person, had just texted me that she knew someone with an extra General Admission ticket for the Sunrise, FL show on April 29th and it was mine if I wanted it.

My general plan had been to see Bruce in Nashville (4/17), Charlotte (4/19), Raleigh (4/24) and Atlanta (4/26), skip the two Florida shows  and spend a week in New Orleans exploring the city and getting caught up on work and blogging before seeing him at the New Orleans Jazz Fest (5/3) and Houston (5/6). That would have been six shows in all, which had seemed like a respectable and really enviable run when I was planning the trip from my little house in Austin.

But after seeing Bruce twice, I was feeling the juice, the soul, the fire.

I was ON fire!

I wanted more Bruce, more E Street Band, more opportunities to make it to the front of the stage. I felt a pull to dive in deep and let the adventure take me where it would.

When I got the text that there was a ticket to Sunrise if I wanted it—

I wanted it!

 

So, immediately, I wrote to my New Orleans Airbnb hosts, Greg and Betty. Would it be okay for me to change my reservation and only stay two days instead of a week? Greg wrote back almost immediately,

Far be it for us to stand between a loyal fan of Bruce’s and her sacred pilgrimage.

That was sweet. Awwww! OKAY. It’s a go! I’m going to Florida! I’m going to see 8 shows! Wooohoooooo….

And then…

BAM!!!

The volume cranked up on those damn inner naysayers and critics and practical people that live inside my head.

“What about work?”

“Your too old; your body can’t take that much driving.”

“You won’t get any work done if you go.”

“You’ll drive thousands of miles.”

That stopped my thoughts in their tracks. THOUSANDS OF MILES?

So, I googled it. Sure enough, Atlanta to Sunrise to Tampa to New Orleans – 1550 miles. 22 hours driving time.  In how long?

Saturday: Atlanta

Tuesday: Sunrise

Thursday: Tampa

Saturday: New Orleans.

Um, that would be 1550 miles of driving in ONE WEEK!

Not to mention the drive from Raleigh to Atlanta right before, or from New Orleans to Houston right after. And then, for the LOVE OF GOD, I was driving all the way to California after Houston.

That all seemed beyond possible. I was daunted. I admit it. I just gave up right then and there. Threw in the towel. I couldn’t. I wouldn’t. The chains of shoulds and oughts wrapped around me and I was blindfolded and bound.

I looked up the drive from Atlanta to New Orleans: 470 miles (about 7 hours).

So much more reasonable. So much more sane.

[And, here I have to admit, I was also feeling guilty because I was changing my reservation. I’m not sure why this happens, but somehow I think that I’m responsible for, well, just about everyone and everything. Because I had made this reservation, now I had to keep it. Even though I was well within the time limit of their cancellation policy AND Greg had also been so supportive and flexible in his first email. But, still, I felt this tug somewhere in my chest or my abdomen…I was WRONG to change my reservation.]

So, I wrote back to Greg. “Never mind, I’m too old. It’s crazy. I can’t.”

Assuming that settled it, sanity had won out, I tried to turn my attention to my work. Before I could get anywhere in that endeavor, Greg wrote again.

Uma,

Good Try. We won’t accept the, . . . old boy of mine. . . ‘, schtick.

You sound like a active and energetic person. We get the sense that if you committed and commenced your drive to Florida, you’d find a way to make it a wonderful adventure – and be no worse for the wear. :-)”

It was as though he knew me, right? I mean, what the H- – -??!

I emailed him back.

Greg,

OH MY GOSH
are you kidding me?

Now, I feel like i really should do it!

If I did, it would probably mean that I actually don’t arrive until Saturday because I’d need two days to get from Tampa to New Orleans – and then I’d go right to the Festival after dropping my bags at your house. Is that still ok? Then it would only be Saturday to Monday!

[ Notice that I was making extra sure that he wasn’t going to hate me for my irresponsibility in changing the reservation. Despite the fact that he clearly was encouraging me to go.]

Okay, folks. So, here’s the kicker. Here’s the reason for this entire post. Here’s the Mystery at work in my life. Greg wrote me back:

Hi Uma,

Barring the earth being struck by a major asteroid or Elvis making an appearance, we’ll be here whether you arrive on the April 28th or on May 3rd.

So, what is really more important is your desire . . . and your dream. To that, the words of Thoreau and Whitman come to mind:

Thoreau in his work, “Walden Or Life in the Woods”:

“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach,

and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.

I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practise resignation, unless it was quite necessary.

I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life,

to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms.”

Whitman – O Me! O Life! ‘ 
O ME! O life!… of the questions of these recurring; 
Of the endless trains of the faithless—of cities fill’d with the foolish; 
Of myself forever reproaching myself, (for who more foolish than I, and who more faithless?) 
Of eyes that vainly crave the light—of the objects mean—of the struggle ever renew’d; 
Of the poor results of all—of the plodding and sordid crowds I see around me; 
Of the empty and useless years of the rest—with the rest me intertwined; 
The question, O me! so sad, recurring—What good amid these, O me, O life? 

Answer.

That you are here—that life exists, and identity;

That the powerful play goes on, and you will contribute a verse.

 So, Uma – Do you want to suck out all the marrow of life, and drive life into a corner?

And ultimately, what will your verse be?

Just let us know

Greg & Betty

 

Can you imagine? What would YOU have done if this happened to YOU? Maybe you’d do what I did.

1. Burst into tears. Sobbing, chest-heaving tears.

2. Then start laughing at the same time.

3. Through your tears write Greg back…

 

Greg,

I don’t know you and yet clearly, you have been sent from my own soul to help me out.

You could not really know how meaningful it is, that you sent me Thoreau and Whitman, but…

I am actually crying right now.

I would like to arrive on Saturday May 3rd and stay til Monday May 5th.

thank you, more than I can say

~Uma

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And this, my friends, is the root of adventure.

This is the real Mystery at work.

This is the fire and the flame and the Way that calls you always Home, to your truest self. This is the offering and the offerer, all in one.

This is your sword, this is your shield
This is the power of love revealed
Carry it with you wherever you go
And give all the love that you have in your soul

-This is Your Sword, Bruce Springsteen

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Are you willing?

Will you throw your desires to the wind and see what blows back to you?

Will you listen to the Call of a New Life?

On April 21st, I said yes.

And today, I’m saying YES again.

 

2014-04-28 14.36.13

Nashville (Show #1) Miracles Abound

Okay, followers of Following Bruce – the HOLY JOURNEY has begun! I am not sure how to even begin to convey what has already occurred.

Miracles? yup!

New friendships? check!

Got in the “pit” at my first show? YES I DID!!!

Last night was nothing short of life-altering. And not for the reasons you might expect. Not because of Bruce and the E Street Band’s powerful and heartfelt performances. Not because so many synchronicities converged to put me in front of the stage so close up. Not because Tom Morelo and Nils Lofgren shredded their guitar solos over and over again, not because the band played so many of the songs I hoped they’d play, not because I bought an awesome tour sweatshirt , not even because Bruce is so gorgeous it hurts….

No, friends. The reason last night changed my life is because of one simple fact: I was there.

I followed my heart right out of Austin and into my deepest desires. I trusted that voice deep in my gut and I’m doing what I feel called to do.

There are no words to convey the rightness, the magic, the convergence, the perfection of living life in that way. May each of you who read these words be similarly empowered and inspired. Whatever your longings. Please listen to them.

Bruce was right in front of me last night. He and every member of the E Street Band are legendary. And…they are real people. One of the gifts of this journey is that I get to remember that there is no difference between me and these seemingly bigger-than-life rock stars.

Because, here’s the secret: they are not, actually, bigger than life. They are just living their lives so fully that they fill their containers to bursting. And, placed next to someone not doing that, they may appear larger.

That, however, is an illusion. Like a full moon on the horizon seems so huge, yet in reality it is exactly the same size as when it’s high in the sky.

Dive into the Mystery. Let it devour you and you will be rewarded, filled to the brim, with more life than you can imagine.

 

Headed Straight Into the Storm

There’s a dark cloud rising from the desert floor
I packed my bags and I’m headed straight into the storm
Gonna be a twister to blow everything down
That ain’t got the faith to stand its ground
~ The Promised Land

As I prepare to leave Austin this morning and embark upon this Odyssey, the sky is pouring rain. Thunder and lightening flash and crash around my little home. Strong winds bend tree branches and drive hard drops against the windows. It’s loud. So loud, I turned off the music.

I’m finishing my last tasks with only the sounds of the storm around me.

There’s a rightness in this. I can hear the silence within the storm, like the heartbeat of all existence. It was that which brought me to this moment. Something called me, and has been calling me all my life. I can listen for it, and respond. Or I can give a million excuses why not.

After 50 turns round the sun, and however many nights and days that I’ve been alive, I am done turning away. Finished with it. I’m claiming my freedom, which also means surrendering to the Way that life will move me.

Following Bruce is much more than a rock-n-roll adventure. It’s beyond being a fan. It is easy to get caught up in the “form” of this journey. But my deepest wish is that I will focus ever more deeply on what this adventure really is: a voyage home, to deeper and deeper interiors of my heart. And that through this blog I will find some way to bring you along on that journey.

This past weekend I had the great good fortune to retreat for 2 days and nights with a group of people similarly dedicated to a journey such as mine. Led by Vanessa Stone, a beautiful sister and teacher on my path, we spent our time in circle and alone on the land, in silence and in talk and laughter, making new friendships and strengthening old ones. Vanessa reminded me, as time with her always does, that this life is a precious opportunity and perfectly perfect as it is.

As I wrote that, thunder crashed, punctuating the power of this truth. As a great poet once wrote, “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”

And I realize, this Odyssey is perfectly prescribed for me.

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