Monthly Archives: September 2018

Against All Odds

I was a fan of Phil Collins as a teenager in a way that was so easy and seamless for any teen in the 90s, that I didn’t really notice it, if that makes any sense. For me he was one of many successful artists who broke through with solo albums at the time.  I was floored by his emotional hit singles, bounced off the walls to his up tempo dance hits, but I never really sought to know more about him as a person. In the 90s, I didn’t dig below the surface of the musical artists I loved. I just loved and lived in their song without ever really knowing what they were about or what was behind them. Phil Collins was also one of those white artists who was heavily inspired by Motown and in so doing, worked his way into the hearts of Black audiences along with Brits like Rick Astley and George Michael.

Lately, all of our favorite artists have become more mortal in the public eye than ever and in the age of celebrity, social media makes the wall of privacy grow thinner and thinner, controversy and scandal popping up more frequently as we discover that our idols are as vulnerable as any human being.

I’m always careful about wanting to know too much about my sentimental faves because I’m afraid the truth will ruin the romance, the idealism of what makes them popular and beloved to millions. Music is such a deeply personal art. It’s hard sometimes to discover all the flaws, imperfection, ugliness and abuse that often lay just behind it. But as I get older, I realize to love anything and anyone is to love it warts and all.

And there are always warts. Just as there is always beauty.

Not dead yet Screenshot

I think I must have almost missed my train stop three different times (once I did) while reading Phil Collins autobiography during my work commute. I finished it this morning on the way to work and got emotional, the way I do when I finish up any book I like.

To summarize, Phil Collins is a cocky, ambitious, musical genius workaholic, someone who experienced a success that was just as big and far reaching as it seemed in the 90s. His music was fucking everywhere and even if you were a fan it did reach levels of annoyance. His personal life was a hot mess and later on his health was just as much of a wreck after years of touring for hundreds and hundreds of days at a time. If nothing else came across in this book (and a lot came across) it’s how we never truly understand how physically demanding it is for successfully performers to have their shit together night after night. Pain killers, cortisone shots and various other drugs become inevitable to keep their bodies, their vocal chords going and soon it all takes a toll. I understand now why Michael Jackson and Prince finally succumbed to these occupational hazards. They want nothing more than to please their audiences to the degree that they push their bodies beyond a point that is healthy for anyone. They sacrifice their personal relationships, their families for their music and for their fans.

 

Funnily (well not that funny) Collins’ autobiography is titled “Not Dead Yet” which I have to say really encompasses so much that I love about him, although he truly and repeatedly made some shitty mistakes over the span of his career. He is the guy that laughs at his pain and pushes on and gets you to laugh at it is well, which is not to day he isn’t also crying. But it’s true, he’s not dead yet, though just barely not dead. It took him until his late 50s to finally break down and nearly kill himself and then after his body truly began to fall apart he came to a full stop and was finally able to slow down and be a father to his kids by three different women.

…sigh

I thought maybe after reading his autobiography, I might not feel the same about his music. But I do. I think all the pain, the love, the complicated emotions he failed to communicate to the right people at the right time are there in that perfect way that only exists in melody, in soul, in rhythm and in feeling. That’s one of the things I love most about good music. It alchemizes pain and joy into something we all can share and process and connect through. It’s actually not perfection at all. It is a uniquely channeled and inspired vulnerability which is what makes it so heart wrenching and timeless.

 

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New Moon in Virgo

Virgo is the sign that governs health, habits & routines, making this an optimal time to consider practical ways we can implement healthy habits for increased well-being.

I started this morning by writing a 3 page letter to a close friend of mine who now lives in Oakland. There are a lot of things I’ve needed to get off my chest that don’t need to be shared on social media.

You know how long it’s been since I’ve written a letter?? I’d been wanting write a letter for a while. I’m starting to feel more like doing things I think about rather than just think about doing them. I feel has a lot to with this New Moon in Virgo energy coming in on Sunday.

I attended to gathering I helped put together to honor Khalilah on her birthday a few weeks ago. It was in Prospect Park near a tree she used to love to sit by on the odd occasion that she had or made time to sit and relax. I loved sitting out there with her. I loved relaxing with her in general because she was always so busy and being busy is not my natural habitat. So whenever we were able to slow down, I was super excited to hang out, talk, laugh, plan and learn with her. And nature being my favorite place to feel connected to spirit, it was always quality time for us.

Hawk

The gathering was really a beautiful and magical evening with exactly 7 of us ladies to start. When I arrived at Grand Army Plaza, I zeroed in immediately on a fluffy red tailed hawk at the top of a tall tree near the path to where we were going to gather. I just felt that this was part of Khalilah’s spirit.

The woman who lead the circle was someone who knew Khalilah a from Black woman’s leadership group that she was a part of and she lead with grace, playfulness, femininity, passion, reverence and an honor that I felt was absolutely befitting.

Guides

At one point she handed around a deck of cards for us to choose from and let us know beforehand that the message on the other side would be from Khalilah to each of us individually. I had to wait a few minutes before I read mine aloud because all I did was cry when I looked at it.

Since then I have felt a kind of building peace as I’ve worked on releasing and processing my grief and I’ve dedicated myself to self care in active ways because quite frankly, I’ve been falling the f&*k apart. LOL!

I’ve been talking things days by day, step by step, beating up on myself a bit less, rushing less and enjoying life for what it is. Precious.

This coming New Moon in Virgo which was the sign Khalilah was born under will be a powerful one for those of us who are dedicated to focusing on self-care and developing healthy routines in order to best serve ourselves and others. I’m actually excited about going back to the gym! LOL! But that’s because I know exactly what I need to focus on. It’s also because I’m fully aware that she loves me as she loves so many of us and still wants me to work on truly love myself.

Ashe’