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Chanting the Name

28 April 2012

In the unity of a crowd, everyone's voice sounds beautiful.
I cannot explain this phenomenon, and yet I love it.
I love that many of us were not blessed with amazing singing voices,
and yet, when we sing together, the result is always so lovely.

Last night, I went to see the Dave Matthews of chanting music--Krishna Das.
After several years of rocking out to his call-and-response chanting in my car,
and a trip to India that brought his music even closer to my heart,
excitement bubbled inside me at the thought of seeing him live.

His deep, soulful voice captures the name of the Divine,
and delivers it in such a perfect package that one feels the essence
of the Divine presence within--that perfect love, perfect joy, perfect peace.

It was a deeply spiritual experience.
Even as I write that, I imagine my readers thinking of soothing lullabies.
It may come as a surprise that the music is extremely energizing.
The uplifting and powerful energy crashes over you.
You cannot help but sing, clap, dance, smile.

His love and reverence for Jesus came as a pleasant surprise.
I'm so thankful for the message of unity delivered by the great ones.

I snuck a few blurry, no flash photos
people dancing :)
Prue & Vicki with KD
I gave myself a wandering eye using "red eye reduction." Bahaha.
blissed out after the show

Thank you, Krishna Das, for sharing your gift.
Any other chanting fans out there?

California Dreaming

27 April 2012

I went to an amazing concert this evening.
It was so lovely.
I cannot wait to share it with you.
But now I feel tired, and like I wouldn't do it justice.
Don't you hate that?

So, instead, I'll leave you with pictures of our SoCal family.
I'm looking forward to my puppy reunion,
and lots of walks by the ocean.

in typical fashion, both dogs are stretching the limits

An Invitation for Inspiration

26 April 2012

For the last three years, there's one thing I cannot seem to remove from my New Year's Resolution list.  And while I've been making the effort, I never quite feel like I've done enough.  Sure, I improved...but do I really feel like I can call it complete? Nope, not even close.

I know you guys are thinking 'cut to the chase and tell us what it is.'
Point well taken.  No need to drag this out.

That pesky New Year's Resolution?

To give back by donating my time and money to charity.

I do pretty well with donating money to various causes throughout the year...but where I tend to fall flat is the volunteering.  I find that so many organizations need a firm time commitment...and apparently I'm a commit-aphobe when it comes to that.  I worry that they'll rely on me, and I'll let them down with my unreliability.  I travel for work, the husband & I enjoy traveling, we have a social life, etc....which all adds up to an unpredictable schedule.

But then I see bloggers like my BBFF, Lindsay, and I'm so inspired by them.  Have you met her yet?  She's pretty awesome, for a variety of reasons, including all the things we have in common:
  • SoCal roots
  • vegetarianism
  • cradle-robber husbands
  • love of weird/creepy TLC shows
  • big, toothy smiles
  • uprooting our lives at exactly the same time
  • and the list goes on.....

Do you know what Lindsay and I don't have in common?
She's done WAY more volunteering than me.
Not only did she do two years of Americorps service, but she's done some other really amazing volunteering as well {I'd give you the deets but I don't want to steal her thunder!}

This got me thinking....

I bet so many of my favorite bloggers donate their time or money to charity, 
and I would love to know about it and feel inspired by it!

So, Thursday, May 17, 2012...three weeks from today...Lindsay and I invite YOU to come and show the blogging community what charity you support.  This is your opportunity to flaunt your cause, inspire other bloggers, and maybe even make some new friends.  All you have to do is follow both of our blogs, post a button anywhere on your blog, and create a post {or vlog} answering the following questions.  You'll only have to link up on one of the host's blogs, as our link-ups will be connected.  We really hope you join us.  You can grab the button below to put on your blog...and start spreading the word to your friends.  

Flaunt Your Cause Link-up
Tell us about your favorite charity.
What inspires you about the cause?
How do you donate your time or money to help?

Are you excited to join in?  I thought so!

To make you even more excited...there's an incentive to participate.  
After the link-up, we'll use a random number generator to select the link-up number of a participant.

The lucky winner will have $50 donated to the cause they featured!
Let me repeat, Lindsay & I will be donating 50 hard-earned dollars to one lucky charity!

Now {pretty please} help us spread the word :)

Flaunt Your Cause

Driving on the Left

25 April 2012

One of the first questions I get asked,
being an American in Oz,
is about driving on the left.

"Is it hard?"
"Does it feel weird?"
"How did you adjust?"

Moving to Oz, 
I was very concerned about this as well.
As a sales rep, I drive a lot.
Like thousands of miles each month.
I was worried that I'd exhaust myself each day,
by concentrating so much on my driving.

Can I just pause the story for a second,
to say how excited I was to finally score a picture of the kangaroo sign?
You only see these in the more rural areas,
and because you're in the middle of nowhere, you're going really fast,
and it makes it nearly impossible to snap a clear photo.

Okay, thanks for that.
Now, back to the story :)

When we moved here,
we left Los Angeles at 11:00pm (ish),
flew 15 hours non-stop to Sydney,
and arrived around 6:30am two days later.

A driver picked up us and brought us to our temporary accommodations.
Then he asked if I'd like to go to my company headquarters to pick up my car.
It seemed like a good idea since I had no clue how to get there via public transport.

So there we were, after traveling 15+ hours of traveling, with our new car.
The car where you sit on the right side,
and drive on the left side.

And the consequences of screwing up while driving on the opposite side of the road?
Yeah, no pressure.

So what did we do?
We coached each other like crazy!
"Okay honey, we're coming up on a RIGHT turn.  Remember, this is the BIG turn.
We have to watch for traffic and yield."
Stuff like that...
...the worst nightmare of people who hate backseat drivers.

But it worked.
We gave each other feedback on everything from lane position,
to where to turn, 
to speed limits,
and which exits to take.

We concentrated 100% on driving safely.  
We also took turns driving every day for the first week,
to force ourselves to get the practice.

And gradually, it got easier.
We started to remember to walk to the right side of the car to drive,
and to walk to the left side of the car as a passenger.

wombat caution sign

Would you like to know the hardest habit to break?

The most frustrating, difficult one that still gets me on occasion?

Using my RIGHT hand for the turn signal.
When I screw this up, I end up with the windshield wipers on,
while trying to turn,
with no turn signal.
NOT COOL.  Not cool at all.
I have no clue what type of giant bird this could be referencing.  Perhaps an emu?

A farewell gift from USA friends--a bobble head version of our dog, Mazzy.

Fortunately, driving on the left is second nature to me now.
It's not the constant effort I feared it would be.  
In fact, I've gotten so good,
I was ballsy enough to film some video for you while driving.

{I don't know why I said 'dollars' so weird.
Hubby made fun of me for that.
Let's just hope I don't speak like that in real life.}

Have you ever driven on the left?

P.S. All sign photos were taken near 
Wilson's Promontory National Park in Melbourne.

Tuesday Travel Diaries: Israel

24 April 2012

Hello everyone! My name is Lauren and I blog over at Adventures in Flip Flops where I share my adventures, recipes, summer camp, and love for books with the world. You can also find me on Goodreads, and Twitter. One of my very favorite things to do is to travel, and when I discovered Travel Tuesdays with Emily, I got really excited! So many things to share!

In particular, I thought of the trip I took last March to Israel. I surprised myself. I have never had a particular desire to go to Israel, something not characteristic of the Jewish community. But, as I aged and came close to graduating with my Master of Science, I realized that I had a unique opportunity that I should take advantage of.

As a young Jewish adult, I was able to take advantage of Birthright Israel and have my 10-day trip paid for. I traveled with 40 other young adults via bus, stayed in hostels, tents, and at guest houses of kibbutzim {communal farm type places} and generally got a whirlwind tour!

My trip was through a provider called Israel Outdoors. In particular, I chose a trip called Israel by Foot, which, as you can imagine, focuses on hiking.

And hike we did! There's a gorgeous mountain range near Eilat where we could see The Gulf of Eilat {and Jordan},
{In the Gulf of Eilat}
and even Saudi Arabia in the distance {see the smoke on the left side?}.

{From my favorite hike}
We also camped in the Ramon Crater and hiked out the next morning, and then got up super early to see the sunrise from Masada.

Even though we spent a LOT of time hiking, we also went to some awesome historical, religious, and cultural sights. Jerusalem is, by far, my favorite city in Israel, although, Tel-Aviv is bustling with it's own atmosphere. I just couldn't resist the history surrounding Jerusalem, though. The markets where the meat is kosher {and I was mistaken several times for an Israeli}, the falafel is delicious, and candy is sold by the pound.

The Western Wall and the energy that seems to surround it. The heart-wrenching visit to Yad Vashem {Holocaust Memorial Museum} and Her Hertzel {military cemetary} that had me crying for hours {that was a HUGE suprise!}.

{An American from PA who joined the Israeli army}
We also did some pretty stereotypical things like riding camels, and floating in the Dead Sea {boy, that was an experience}.

And....we ate. Oh, did we eat. The food is so wonderful. Schawarma {spit roasted meat, similar to gyros} served with cabbage and pita, falafel, hummus so good I hesistate to eat anything in the U.S., shakshuka, lentil soup, straight-out-of-the-oven hamentaschen, breakfasts of boiled eggs and bell pepper die for. One my fondest memories is finding a little hole-in-the wall restaurant run by an old Eygptian-Jewish lady. Stuffed zucchini, rice with chickpeas {which she called hummus}, water with fresh lemon and mint. SO GOOD.

The people are warm, vibrant, and friendly. Part of the Birthright experience is traveling with Israeli peers so that you can learn about what life is like for them, and they for you. Because everyone in Israel is required to serve in the military, many of our peers were in the Army or Navy, many were younger than me, and a few were just now starting school. It was wonderful to speak with them, party with them, and generally see how alike we are, and yet, how our experiences are so, so different.
{An Egyptian soldier taking pictures of us from his side of the border. This was shortly after the revolution}
For weeks after returning, I couldn't imagine not going back. I still want to go back. Israel is a unique place that marries so many different cultures. Yes, it has its problems {which I purposely did not, and will not discuss here}, but it is a special place. I'll get back there one day. I know it.

Thanks so much for sharing your trip with us, Lauren!  I would love to float in the Dead cool!  If you enjoyed this post, please go say hello to Lauren over at Adventures in Flip Flops.  I particularly love her book reviews--she's so intelligent and thoughtful.  

If you've taken a trip {old or new} that you'd like to share on Tuesday Travel Diaries, please email me at emmyjuneborninmay{@}gmail{.}com

And lastly, if you were featured on TTD, please grab a button below :)

Tuesday Travel Diaries

Cover the Night

23 April 2012

From the moment I saw the, now infamous, Kony 2012 video,
I knew I wanted to get involved.  
I love campaigns that make it easy and fun for me to help out.
My friend Claire had the same reaction,
so we both signed up to donate $15/month,
which entitled us to a free Action Kit.  

Mine arrived last week, and I was so excited to tear it open
and check out the goodies.

Sadly, the t-shirt is humongous.
But I rocked in nonetheless.

Claire had a plan to 'Cover the Night' in Bondi Beach.
She had a bridge picked out that's visible
to the tens of thousands of cars that drive under it every day.

Before we even got started, a guy walked past us and said,
"Oh, is it Kony night tonight?"
He was excited to see us out volunteering.
It was a good way to start!

From the bridge, we got more creative.

Claire drove the getaway car.

I wish they sent more posters and stickers.
We were having a blast covering Bondi.  

A guy on my Facebook news feed was talking smack about
the Kony "Cover the Night" campaign and how it wasn't going to help.
I guess he missed the memo that the entire point of this part of the activism
was to make Kony a household name.
So by virtue of his Facebook post, the video & event worked.

Clearly the expectation is not to hang posters & then Kony turns himself in.
It's more complex than that and it will take longer to see it through.
But it makes me sad that so many people would rather berate a campaign,
and hope for it's failure,
than raise a single finger to help,
or speak a single word of hope.

In my case, I had no idea who Kony was.
Now, I visualize him and send him light when I'm doing
my prayers for World Peace.
I want him brought to justice...and, more importantly,
I want those children to feel safe in their homes & villages.

I'm so thankful for the opportunity,
to play a very small role,
in a campaign that I hope does very big things.
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