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.

Meeting Bruce Springsteen

The impossible happened. I met Bruce.

The entire circumstance of how it happened seems incredibly random and completely perfect. Here’s the story.

I live in Asheville, NC, which is about 9 hours from St. Louis. I had been thinking about adding the Sunday, March 6 show to my itinerary, but I fluctuated a lot. Finally, I woke up Saturday morning and thought, what the hell?! Of course I’m going! So, in a whirlwind, I found a GA ticket on the BTX ticket exchange site, arranged for friends to come stay with my cat, and hit the road.

I lucked out and got in the pit through the wristband lottery. I was not one of the first ones in, but because I was on my own, I managed to get up pretty close. In the line before we got in, I met some great fans, including Scott Williams, the guy who danced with Bruce in Cleveland.

As usual, it was a great show. You might have heard some about it, like the guy, Tom England, who got to go up and play and sing Working on the Highway with Bruce and the E Street Band. Which was REALLY AWESOME! I met some cool folks around me and had a fine time. I’ll have a post with just pics pretty soon, but let’s get on with the important part now.

After the show, I took my time leaving. I had been thinking about maybe trying to hang out where Bruce would be leaving from and catch a glimpse of him as he left. I bought some (yet more) merch (they have these cool fabric patches now) and was literally one of the last people to wander out of the building.

There was a driveway right next to the venue, which I had seen before the show and which seemed likely to be the way in and out for artists. I wandered over and one lone guy was standing there. Who? None other than the infamous and aforementioned Scott Williams. I joined him and he told me he had been down below and that Bruce’s security guy told him to wait at the top of the driveway and that Bruce would be coming out soon. GREAT, I thought. Maybe I will see him!

As we waited and chatted, a family joined us also. Mom, Dad and two daughters. One black SUV came up and as they waited to turn out of the driveway, we saw it was Max in the front passenger seat and Garry in the back. It was confirmed because there was a piece of paper taped to the side of the vehicle that said “MAX and GARRY.” I stepped forward and grabbed it.

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A few minutes went by, and we saw another SUV leave and in that one we caught a glimpse of Bruce’s guitar tech, Kevin.

Another minute or two. And then…the magic started. The security guy directing traffic in front of the driveway into the main street called over to us, “HE’S COMING!” Which alone was pretty cool, right?!

We looked down and saw two more black SUV’s coming up the driveway. The first one passed us by and made a quick turn into the street. We couldn’t see who it was, and they were turned away from the window. But who cared, because the second SUV was pulling up next to us, the passenger window rolled down and Bruce just sitting there with his arm resting on the door, waving to us. The backseat passenger window was also down, and Bruce’s security guy was there.

And now, things get pretty fuzzy for me. What happened next was SOMETHING like this…

He says, “Hi guys. How you doing?”

AAAAAHHHHH!!!!!!

OMG!!!!!!!!!

We surge forward, but I hang back behind Scott because he’d been there first, and besides I have always felt (as I’ve written before on this blog) that I’m invisible to Bruce and that even when I’ve been at the front of the stage, I’m not one of the ones he ever notices. So even as this amazing thing is happening and Bruce Springsteen is RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME, I’m thinking I’m not going to get to talk to him, he’s going to talk to the other people and then drive off and I’ll be invisible as usual.

So the family talks to him and Bruce sees Scott, and says, “Hey, it’s the dancing man!”

The family does the selfies. Then Scott gives Bruce some gifts he had brought for him (nice job, Scott!) and they do the selfies.

And then I’m holding my breath, is this my moment? I’m restraining myself from lunging at him, wondering what to do, sort of realizing  that I’ve got no idea what the hell to say anyways, and

and

and

Bruce Springsteen looks right at me, reaches out his hand toward me and motions me forward. Are you kidding me? HE SEES ME!

So any kind of self-restraint is over. I ungracefully spring forward, grab his hand and his arm and lean part way into the window and the babbling commences:

Ohmygod Bruce Ihavelovedyou FOREVER

(Bruce: Well thank you)

Ican’tbelieveI’mmeetingyou

(Bruce: You are)

Thank you thank you thank you

(Bruce: You’re welcome)

Can I take a selfie?

(Bruce: Yep)

Fumble fumble with phone, drop my poster tube, Scott picks it up, I’m still babbling:

Bruce, you sound horse, I’m worried about you

(Bruce: Well I really appreciate that)

Bruce, take care of yourself

(Bruce: OK, thank you, I will)

I’m slightly aware that people are smiling at my complete goofiness, possibly even laughing, but it’s absolutely IMPOSSIBLE to regain any composure or presence whatsoever and I’m laughing at myself also.

I get the phone in place and we look at the camera, I’m pretty much out of my body by this time, but I’ve got some awareness that his arm is against my arm, I’m freaking TOUCHING BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN. I snap the picture.

And then I say, “Can I kiss you on the cheek?”

Bruce leans the side of his head slightly towards me, motions at his cheek and says, “Yep, there it is, go ahead.”

Seriously. I’m not making this shit up. That is what happened. He said that. I started cracking up, it was SO FUNNY! And SO AWESOME!

So I kissed him on the cheek.

And then he waved to us all, said goodbye, and off they drove.

I started twirling around the grass on the side of the driveway and screaming and shouting OH MY GOD I CAN’T BELIEVE THAT JUST HAPPENED! and the sweet family and Scott and I just were laughing and talking to each other and it was so amazing.

Turns out the family are the O’Connors from Chicago: Ben, Julie and daughters Brennan and Delany. Here’s all of us (Scott, too).

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And here’s the super cool amazing pic that Ben snapped of me and Bruce.

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Holy Shit. It happened. I’ve got the photo evidence.

How do I feel? Still amazed and blessed and super grateful. Also, I feel only more determined to manage to meet him again and this time I’m going to be more prepared. Let me tell you, if you want to meet someone who seems unreachable, whether it’s Bruce or someone else, get ready. Think about what you want to say or ask, what you’d like to have with you to give to them, what you want to be sure to not miss. Because I was so absolutely positive I could never meet him that I never put any time into preparing and although I have no regrets, I do sort of have that one regret. That I wasn’t more ready.

For one thing, I’d love to tell him about this blog. I’d love to give him a bit of my writing about what he’s meant to me. I’d love to be better practiced with the camera phone. All that shit. I don’t even know what-all. But, my friend, I’ll tell you this for sure—I’m gonna be putting some serious energy into preparing for the next time the impossible happens, and I get to meet Bruce Springsteen.

 

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?

 

Bruuuuuuce is baaaaack. And so am I.

Hello everyone!

Long time, no write. But Bruce is back now and it’s time to pick up the pen. Or the keyboard, as it were. (BTW, try clicking the photo above to see all of Bruce.)

I sit at this very moment in The Coffee Tree Roasters coffee shop in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood of Pittsburgh, PA. I am staying in an Airbnb nearby. And we are T-minus 6.75 hours til official showtime for the tour opener. By the time I post this, obviously, it will be less! (And if you reading in the future…well, it’s T-plus, I guess.) I will be there – if all goes according to my evil plan, I will be elbows on the stage, but even if not, I’ll be pretty damn close.

So. What have I been up to for the past forever time since I last posted? And even before that (because Goddess knows I have still not made this blog what I wanted it to be)? My original vision for blog was a place for me to write about following Bruce, yes. But also to write about anything in the entire universe that matters to me: what I think and what I feel and what might somehow reach out and touch someone else. YOU.

Well, I tell myself: no worries. As many wise ones have said, the past is dead, the future unwritten, and all we have is the present. Here and now, in the present, my heart still beats and my mind still thinks and my hands still type and this old macbook still works, SO, here I go.

Quick recap. My recent life in a bullet list:

  • I am a healer, writer, photographer and good friend. At least, I want to be those, and occasionally I manage to actually do the actions that would make them manifest. That was the impetus behind creating this blog/website.
  • I’m also a plant ecologist by training with an absurd amount of experience in the world of environmental consulting, and I have tended to go back to that work because it is 1) interesting and 2) financially rewarding.
  • When I started this blog, I was working P/T for a consulting firm in the SF Bay Area, and living in Austin, TX.
  • Bruce Springsteen inspires the bejeezus out of me. It is hard to completely explain this. So in early 2014, I decide to follow him and blog about it. That experience was so inspiring and amazing and incredible and awesome and uplifting and FUN. But the blogging didn’t quite go as well as planned. Turns out that seeing 8 shows means spending a LOT of time driving, sleeping, eating and standing in line. And ROCKING OUT. Not very much time for  blogging. (excuses, excuses) I still have all my notes from talking to people at the shows and all the photos, but very few blog posts came out of it.
  • After tour, I found out that a dear friend of mine in California who had brain cancer was close to the end, and he and his wife decided to move to Kauai for his passing and for her to start her life there. Something she had always wanted to do. So I, for reasons that are complex and beyond the scope of this post, went with them: I sublet my place in Austin to someone who could take care of my cat (who, by the way, deserves an entire blog post of her own and will get one someday), drove to the Bay Area, shipped my car to Kauai, and flew over.
  • He died. That was very very very very sad.
  • I realized I didn’t want to live in Kauai, so in November (2014) I shipped the car BACK to the Bay Area, and accepted a big promotion at my company. I got the cat, gave up the apartment in Austin and settled into a little cottage.
  • By July 2015, I was totally burned out on the new job (because I’m really a healer/writer/photographer and not a full time high stress business manager). I was also synchronously on a vacation to New York and New Jersey when the word went out that Bruce was in APNJ and likely to show up at the Wonder Bar to jam with his old friends, Joe Grushecky and the Houserockers. I changed my plans in a heartbeat and drove to Asbury Park, got like the last hotel room in town, showed up at the bar, scored a ticket…he showed up. Game changer. Another post on that entire experience may come someday.
  • Thus inspired, I went back to California and quit the job, took the money and ran. All the way to Asheville, NC.
  • Within a week of arriving there, I was under contract on a sweet sweet SWEET country cabin, with a separate apartment that I could make into an Airbnb, located about 25 minutes southeast of Asheville.
  • On October 29 I closed. On November 11 I moved in. On November 22 the first Airbnb guest stayed. On November 26 I started driving for Uber. And coming up, I’m going to get my realtor license and maybe start a little vacation rental property management biz. Plans to write, photograph and heal are also in the works.
  • In December, Bruce released The River Box Set, announced The River Tour, and me and my Bruce Bud, Britt, bought General Admission tickets to January 29th DC show and 3 February southeast shows.
  • The holidays were a rough time, and I was slogging through the usual January deep blues (yes, depression). Then on this past Monday, I realized that the best thing I could do for myself was see Bruce. I made an Airbnb reservation and signed up for the so-cool ticket drop notification service (i.e. ticket drones) and decided to go to Pittsburgh. With some kind of amazing ticket karma, I scored a GA ticket during a Ticketmaster ticket drop the next day.
  • And, here we are. Well, here I am. I don’t know where YOU are.

And that about brings us up to date.

I will see you tomorrow, with photos from the front of the stage, if lady luck is with me.

Rock on.

Some Pics from Houston

It is hard to believe it’s been so long since the shows. I miss the touring life. Much is changing, much too fast. More on that soon.

I finally made my way through the Houston pics and selected some to edit. This is a few of the first I’ve played around with. I shot over 700 pics that night. Being front and center really made a big difference.

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

∗ ∗ ∗ ∗ ∗ ∗ ∗ ∗ ∗ ∗ ∗ ∗ ∗ ∗ ∗ ∗ ∗ ∗ ∗ ∗ ∗ ∗ ∗ ∗ ∗ ∗ ∗ ∗ ∗ ∗ ∗

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

∗ ∗ ∗ ∗ ∗ ∗ ∗ ∗ ∗ ∗ ∗ ∗ ∗ ∗ ∗ ∗ ∗ ∗ ∗ ∗ ∗ ∗ ∗ ∗ ∗ ∗ ∗ ∗ ∗ ∗ ∗

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

Catching My Breath

I’m back! I know the whole idea was to blog about my Bruce adventure while I was in it, but you probably noticed—that didn’t happen.

It turns out that seeing eight (yes, 8) Bruce shows means a hell of a lot of driving and not a lot of writing. Um, make that NO WRITING.

After my final show in Houston on May 6, I drove all the way to California. (So far, I’ve driven almost 7,000 miles since I left my house in Austin on April 14th.) Upon arrival in California, I started a mad schedule of work and socializing. I’m finally beginning to catch my breath – and am ready to blog again.

I still want to make posts about each of the shows in the order I saw them, including the adventures, the people, the energy…and what it has meant to me. But for now, I’m going to post some photos of my journey and of the band and leave the storytelling to the next post. I hope you enjoy and I am glad you stopped by to check things out here at my home on the world wide web.

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