Song Story: Sing a Summer Song

May 3, 2016

Today’s Song Story is for “Sing a Summer Song“, track #7 on our album, “EARTH“.

We frequently bring our music and dance program to the Mountain View Public Library. Their summer concert series for families — called “Sing a Summer Song” — is a really beautiful event. The shows happen outside on the back lawn, underneath an oak tree who must be over 100 years old. The tree alone is worth the visit! Don’t forget to hug the tree! I wrote this song originally as a theme for their concert series, and it expanded into a singalong about summer, about Earth, about love!

In its simplest interpretation, it’s an ode to the summers of my childhood, and the way our magical Earth spoke to me through her smells, sounds, textures, tastes, and beauty. I reference things like june bugs, fireflies, wiggly worms and other hallmarks of a Midwestern (south-central Wisconsin, to be specific) Summer. And the long days, the “tiny nights”, the warming air, the summer smells, the fresh sounds, bare feet running (my favorite!) and, most of all, my Mom’s garden and all the hot, sweaty, dirty memories of digging, picking, looking, wondering, eating.

The chorus is a sing-along — belt it out!

Sing a summer song
Sing a summer song
Sing a summer song for you and me
Sing a summer song
Sing a summer song
The way we love the world is everything

The line “the way we love the world is everything” expresses one of the themes on the EARTH album — that our job is to work on accessing our innate love, compassion, kindness and generosity so we can bring it out into the world and be THAT person, as often as possible.

It is also the reminder that when we connect with Mother Earth deeply, when we immerse ourselves “in” nature, we have no choice but to remember our interbeing, to love her, and to care for her. The more time we spend outside in nature, appreciating the offerings and the ways in which we are symbiotic with Earth and the ways in which we depend on each other, the more we will come from a place of gratitude and appreciation, and also humility. This is a solid, grounded, authentic place that gives us the capacity and strength and focus to act on her behalf with compassion, wisdom and the fierce love a mother has for her child. Yes…it’s time for us to Mother the Mother!

There are also some secret lyrics hiding in the last go-around of the chorus. Listen closely and see if you can hear them:

Sing…for Earth
Sing…for Love
Sing…for Peace
Sing…for All


  • Sing along! Consider the song a call and response, and mimic the lines in the verse with your response. Join in for the chorus!
  • Discuss ways in which the Earth changes during the transition from Spring to Summer.
  • Make a “seasons” poster. Divide a piece of paper into four sections, label them “Summer”, “Spring”, “Winter” and “Fall”, and paint or draw things in each section that go along with each season.
  • Help your kids make a list of things they love and appreciate. Then use this list to sing your own version of the song. For example, “Sing it for the polar bears, Sing it for the horses, Sing it for the skateboards, Sing it for the ocean, Sing it for my sister, Sing it for my best friend, Sing it for mangos, Sing it for my bicycle…” No need to worry about rhyming!

I hope you enjoy “Sing a Summer Song“, this summer and all year ’round. Because the way we love the world is everything!

To listen to the whole EARTH album, scroll down or visit it here.


Song Story: Shine

May 2, 2016

Welcome to today’s Song Story, “Shine“, track #6 on our album, “EARTH“.

As with many of the songs on the album, this one is a reminder of our place, as Earthlings, in this interdependent world, and the opportunity (responsibility?) we’ve been given to cultivate peace, joy, and love in ways that then afford us the possibility of contributing something positive to the world and other beings.

The song started out in my mind as a rhythmic, almost primal chant centering on the words:

Dance your love into the Earth
Dance your love into the Earth
Sing your love into the sky
Sing your love into the sky
Spread your love around the world
Spread your love around the world
Put your love into your life
Put your love into your life

The suggestion to “dance your love into the Eearth” is a somewhat mystical concept. But, in my experience, a child will have absolutely no problem believing it is possible or enacting it with her/his body. The direction to “dance your love into the Earth” speaks to long-forgotten rituals, Earth-based spirituality, and the practice of lovingkindness.

And the echo-response repeated after each line of the verse, “together, with each other”, is the reminder to do all of this together, with each other, in community — the time is now for us to break through isolation, separateness, and otherness and participate in healing work and practices, not only in our individual lives but also within our communities. It’s time to cultivate and strengthen our bonds of interbeing — together, with each other.

The verses go on to encourage the same actions (“dance, sing, spread, put”), first with our joy and then with our sense of peace, balance and equanimity. I practice lots of mindfulness with the kids and parents in my programs, and one of the most requested and favorite exercises is “sending love”. That’s really all we’re doing with this song!

And when it comes to children embodying these ideas, there’s a ready-made movement experience inherent here. All of our music has accompanying choreography, and this particular song appeared in my mind as a complete dance. I pictured the kids at our concerts and in my classes stomping, jumping, swaying and shining as they translated the words of the song into the visual dimension, literally dancing their love into the Earth.

The chorus gets to the heart of things — let’s shine our love, joy and peace EVERYWHERE, even (especially!) on the suffering in the world. For when we bring our suffering, or the suffering of another, into the light of our compassion, into the gentle yet fierce glow of our love, and begin to nurture, cradle, listen to and be present for it, true healing can begin:

Shine it on the mountains
Shine it on the sea
Shine it on the cities
And the trees and the green country, come on
Shine it on all beings
Those who walk and crawl and swim and fly
Shine it on the suffering
Bring it right into the light

And no one is left out or excluded from this shining love, this shining presence: Earth, cities, plants, people, animals, fish, birds, and any suffering that these beings might be experiencing — we send, share, and offer our love and presence to ALL, without exception. (Extra credit for catching the “Free to Be, You and Me” reference in the chorus ;-))

In the middle of the song there’s a mysterious, quiet bridge where we send the love in all directions (“to the East, West, North, South, Above, Below, Within, Without”), reminiscent of ancient rituals that honor and invite in the full dimensionality of the world. Shine it EVERYWHERE, in ALL directions, on ALL beings! The bridge builds into the “dance your peace into the Earth” verse, and finally arrives at the final chorus. We have undertaken a journey, through our love, joy and peace, through the earth, sky, world and very own hearts, arriving home to shine our best selves, our ever-present, enduring love and light, all around.

“Shine” is ultimately about what we have to offer to our world. Part of our job in this life is to cultivate positive qualities in ourselves — like peace, joy, and love — and then to reflect these outward, sharing our best selves with others and our planet. And, perhaps most importantly, to remember that suffering is also part of life, and that all beings suffer. When we remember this truth — that we all suffer, and we all wish to be free from suffering — we are then capable of true compassion.

For this truth blurs the lines between us, reminds us we’re connected, jolts us awake out of delusion and into awareness, shows us our sense of separation and “otherness” is false, snaps us out of judging, criticizing, comparative mind. And when we shine our love, our presence, on our own suffering or that of others, and hold and honor and witness this suffering, we are providing a healing service. Simply being present for another’s suffering (think “active listening”) is perhaps the greatest gift we can give another being. And the more we do this for each other, and for ourselves, the lighter we will all be.


    • Make up a family dance to the song!
    • Teach your dance to a friend or family member.
    • Practice listening meditation with the song. Lie down in a comfortable place and just listen to the words, to the music. Visualize yourself full of love, full of joy, full of peace. Pay attention to any feelings that come up. Sense yourself as part of the Earth. Believe in your ability to send love all around.
    • Can you remember a time when you felt sad or mad? Imagine sending some love and care to the sad or mad feelings or parts inside of you.
    • Do you know someone else who is sad or mad about something? Imagine sending some love and care to the person who is suffering
  • When someone in your life is having trouble, make them a Compassion Card. Simply draw a picture that shows you love them and are there for them, and/or write (or get help writing) a few words like, “I hear you. I see you. I love you.” And offer this to the person who is having trouble.
  • Enjoy our “Peace Breath” meditation to practice cultivating the energy of peace in your mind, body and heart.

I hope you enjoy the song, “Shine“. And scroll down if you’d like to listen to our entire EARTH album!

Namaste (the light in me bows to the light in you, for it is the same light!)


A New Album…for the Earth!

April 22, 2016

In honor of the 46th anniversary of Earth Day, we released our sixth album for families today, entitled, simply, “EARTH”.

This music is dedicated to our beautiful, precious Earth and all her beings and ecosystems, the air and light and water and soil that nourish us, and our deepest most tender hearts, which know wisdom and compassion, and will, I have chosen to believe, find a way to wake up and transform human society into one guided by healing, peace and love.

You can find the album here:
Bandcamp (physical OR digital)
iTunes (digital)
CD Baby (digital)
Spotify (streaming)

I created this collection of songs as a response to my own exploration of climate change in particular and environmental tragedy in general. It is my response to our current planetary crisis, and also an attempt to give parents and teachers a tool for communicating to children the reminder that we are not separate from the Earth, but rather that our very survival depends upon our taking care of and protecting her. She is not a “product” put here for us to consume and extract from and run rough shod over. She is our home, our lifeline, our very existence.

Given the amazing threats our species currently faces due to human-caused climate change, ongoing war, nuclear arsenal expansion, and the continuing rape and abuse of our “environment” (literally, our BODY) and other human and animal and plant beings, it is an often terrifying time to be alive. We have absolutely no idea what kind of world future generations will inhabit, especially if we remain with our heads in the sand, going on with business as usual, in our comfortable and addicted lives.

But I believe it is also a wonderful time to be a human being, a precious time! We have been given the opportunity to completely shift our consciousness…TOWARD Earth, community, generosity, presence, each other, all the animals and plants…and AWAY from self-centered, ego-driven, growth-mindset behaviors that ultimately destroy rather than create, separate rather than connect, encourage greed, hatred and delusion over generosity, love, and truth. It is time for the ultimate reframe!


It is no easy task to figure out how to talk to children about these matters. We can barely handle it all ourselves, as “mature”, “responsible” “grown-ups”. So when thinking about how to bring some of this to light with my music, I settled on the messages of interbeing (interconnectedness and interdependence), compassion, kindness, respect, mindfulness and LOVE, as a way to sing about the Earth and our relationship with her. Perhaps enjoying songs that teach and underscore these ethics and messages is one way to have “the conversation” with our kids, and one way to plant seeds in their hearts, bodies and minds for a healthier relationship with Earth and all beings going forward. For instance…

What if this generation of children grew up believing (knowing) that there really could be enough if we all share? That nature is not something to have power over but rather to commune with and be endlessly respectful of and grateful for? That every single aspect of who they are and what they eat, wear, and “own” comes, circuitously or not, from the Earth and the efforts of other beings? What if these truths informed the decision-making and habits and behaviors of a generation? Would not things be different?

And as we sing these truths to our children, we are reminding ourselves of the same. I believe that our kids actually know this stuff in their bones before society and culture (and, yes, our modeling and our parenting, for we have all bought deeply into this system and story) has its way with their beautiful brains. And we can’t get rid of this programming, unless we’re really ready to go completely off grid, off capitalism in every aspect, in 100% relationship with the land (and I commend any souls brave and resourceful enough who are returning to Earth in this way, creating as light a footprint as possible…I love and support and admire and hope to emulate you!)

So it’s our job, as parents and teachers and grown-ups, to SUPPLEMENT (and replace, where possible) the messages of our culture and our media and our institutions with the perhaps subversive but now absolutely necessary message of the truth of interbeing.


One of the first steps in retraining our brains toward a relationship “with” rather than “over” Earth is to spend more time in conscious communion with her. As an experiment, sit quietly for a few minutes and go back in time, remembering the experiences during childhood when you were the happiest and most grounded, or a time when you felt a sense of magic, or spirit, or felt yourself truly alive and connected to something greater. Chances are, you were outside somewhere in communion with Mother Earth.

THESE are the experiences that teach us what we need to know now, for the sake of our planet, our children, and all the future generations. And the more of these experiences we can cultivate in our lives and in our families and classrooms, the more we will AUTOMATICALLY care for, protect, defend and cherish Mother Earth. Acting from this wisdom and deep understanding will become obvious, inherent, ingrained…a fundamental, inseparable part of who we are.

My own happiest, most cherished memories of childhood all involve magical moments of communion with aspects of her body: creating universes with sticks and rocks and leaves underneath the protective branches of my favorite willow tree; watching chubby black ants wend their way purposefully among the mountainous world of a peony bush; walking down the hill to the local lake, sprawling out with my best friend on a rock to watch and listen to the gentle water lap the shore; riding my bike alone out onto the country roads, the wind and corn rustling in the breeze, golden light on golden Earth and in my golden, open childhood heart. Birds flew and clouds meandered and suns set. Magic happened. Love was there.

And thanks to some intrepid friends, boyfriends and a husband along the way (Annie, Elicia, Amy B, Chandra, Stevo, Charlie…so much gratitude), I became braver with my outdoor yearnings and adventures over time. It started with camping, then backpacking, and finally a year-long journey rock-climbing all around the U.S., exploring back-country granite, sandstone, basalt, streams, rivers, trees, flowers, wild animals, all forms of weather, the cleanest air imaginable, and a deepening presence with and appreciation for all Mother Earth is and offers. I lived and breathed for and on and with the ROCK that year, and my understanding of the lack of separation between this planet we call home and my very own body and heart and mind was solidified.


I now live in a city (San Francisco), and it is more difficult (actually, impossible) to stay immersed in Earth the way I would like. So I go out into my wild and weedy back yard and meditate with the bees and the sour grass. Or I walk or run on the windswept expanse of our blessed Ocean Beach. Or I hug trees. It’s harder in this cement jungle, to stay present with Earth, with all the airplanes above and cell phone rays bouncing around everywhere, but it’s still possible.

So if there’s one thing we can do for Mother Earth, and for ourselves, and for our children, today, right now, it’s to spend more time with her. Sit at the base of a tree, lean on the rough bark and unimaginably strong trunk, absorb the energy of this quiet, wise being, so content to stay in one place for its whole life. Amazing. Or find a body of water or a stream or river and sit alongside watching the sun dance in the ripples, listening to the lapping or the babbling or the rushing, immersing part or all of your beautiful body in the cleansing life-blood of Mother Earth. Or dig into the dirt, the mud, the sand, surrounding your cells with her cells, merging, embodying the possibility of that truth. Or observe the bugs and worms and butterflies and squirrels and birds and other earthlings in their daily doings. Or lie on a grassy hill and watch the clouds and wind and blue or gray or pink or black sky and breathe. Just breathe.

So let’s remember, honor, and listen to Mother Earth with every move we make. And if this music can be a signpost for you along the way, I will be forever grateful. I am deliriously happy to be on this journey with you. Let’s wake up, rise up, join hands. The time is now.

And before I go, I must thank the players who make the music come alive. My partner in life and music, Daryn Roven, played electric guitar and many other instruments, helped edit my song lyrics, contributed invaluably to figuring out arrangements and instrumentation, and engineered and co-produced the whole thing with me. David Rokeach (drums) provided the driving grooves and heartbeats and backbone. Paul Lamb (bass) offered groove, so much melody, and an undeniable anchor. Laurie Pomeranz brings the most amazing light and energy to our live shows with her dancing and singing. They are all incredible parents and human beings, and I couldn’t make this music without their talent, support and commitment to this project. And to all the fans who sing and dance along…thank you for being HERE with me, for showing up, for understanding what I’m trying to do and say and discover…we are in each other’s hearts!

Finally, I will be publishing Song Stories over the next couple weeks, one for each song on the album. I’ll talk about the why and how and what of the music and how each song intertwines with and co-creates the themes of the album. Subscribe to my blog to receive notifications when these are up.

I’ll leave you with a lyric from track #3 on the album, “Earth Day”:

Now is the moment to open our eyes
And our minds and our hearts and realize
The Earth is our friend, the Earth is our home
The Earth is our Mother, we are never alone
We must protect our only Earth
Every action and intention affirming her worth
Let’s do no harm and take good care
Of every life, everyone, everything, everywhere
‘Cause every day should be Earth Day!


Song for the Season and our Sadness

December 25, 2012
I originally sent this letter and song via email last week and am re-posting it here by request. Love and light to all of you…Charity

“I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality.” ~ Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Dear friends,

My heart goes out to all of you as we as a nation attempt to integrate and mourn the tragic events in Connecticut. As parents, the deepest fear we all carry is that of losing a child. There is no greater imaginable horror, and we literally don’t know how we would survive it.

We may attempt to ameliorate our grief with whispers and prayers of relief that it was not our family that was touched by this violence. But if we look deeply, we will be forced to remember that it IS our family, that these ARE our children. And that all the people who die in crossfire or in the line of duty every day are our children. And that the 1 in 4 American children that go to bed hungry every single night are our children. And that the over 30,000 children who die from starvation each day on our planet are our children, too.

History shows us that human beings have always had the capacity to behave violently, destructively and selfishly. No news there. But there are so many of us now, and our weapons are so destructive, our money so worshiped, our media so dependent on violence for effect, and our people so unhappy and unhealthy and uncared for, that we are literally at the tipping point for how much brutality the planet can sustain. We are not “getting away with” this bad behavior anymore. It is coming home to roost.

But history also shows us that human beings have a huge capacity for compassion. So when — and more importantly how — are we going to put an end, once and for all, to this insane march toward violence and self-destruction? When and how will we institute sensible gun control laws? When and how will we create systems and safety nets for identifying and adequately serving those among us who are troubled, isolated, and/or mentally ill and desperately in need of our help? When and how will we call the media and entertainment industries to task for their excessive pushing and selling of violence to young children? When and how will we stop ignoring those who suffer worldwide, often at the hand of our great nation? When will we stop creating the conditions where a tragedy like Sandy Hook is even imaginable, let alone a semi-regular occurrence? Do we have the power, individually and collectively, to change things?

These are questions worth stopping for a moment to consider in the cracks of planning for the holidays, caring for our children, working to survive, and otherwise running around like the crazy, over-scheduled and over-stimulated people we have become, despite our often Herculean efforts to simplify. I know it feels like we don’t have the time, but there’s another clock ticking and the alarm, when it goes off, will be the rudest wake-up call conceivable.

I questioned moving forward with our December song release in the midst of all this, until I received an email from a mom sharing with me her experience with her child falling asleep to Lovingkindness while she listened from the other room in the midst of her pain, paralysis, fear and confusion regarding Friday’s tragedy. She reminded me that music “has the power to help heal our broken hearts.” So here is some music for you. I hope it helps heal your broken heart, or at least helps you cry and release some of the grief inside. Or helps you remember some joyful memories from your childhood, thus filling your heart with some much-needed happiness and love in this moment. And I hope it helps you remember to hold ALL our children close.

The song is called The Light. The theme is that light itself (whether in the form of twinkly tree lights, flickering candle-fire, the sun or stars) is central to every culture’s winter holiday. And it universally symbolizes purity, a hope for peace, a desire for awakening and transformation, and the amazing opportunity we’re given to recognize the basic human goodness in one another — the opportunity to lay down our fear, judgement, and illusion of separation and come together, in love, as one. For deep down, everyone wants to love and be loved. The experience of sharing love brings us our greatest joy, and the fear of separation from love is the source of our deepest pain. This truth is at the heart of all that is both tragic and transformative about humanity. And it carries within it the path to a peaceful world.

This message takes on another dimension in the wake of last week’s tragedy. And, at least for me, it takes on another level of insistence. If not now, when? Perhaps you will find some hope in these words, or some ideas about how you can address this difficult stuff with your kids or even what you can do to help as an individual or community. Please let me know what you come up with, for I, too, am paralyzed with the enormity of the challenge facing us. We need each other now more than ever. Thank you for being here.

Peace be with you this season and always. I love you.

“To be hopeful in bad times is not just foolishly romantic. It is based on the fact that human history is a history not only of cruelty, but also of compassion, sacrifice, courage, kindness.

What we choose to emphasize in this complex history will determine our lives. If we see only the worst, it destroys our capacity to do something. If we remember those times and places — and there are so many — where people have behaved magnificently, this gives us the energy to act, and at least the possibility of sending this spinning top of a world in a different direction.

And if we do act, in however small a way, we don’t have to wait for some grand utopian future. The future is an infinite succession of presents, and to live now as we think human beings should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is itself a marvelous victory.”

~ Howard Zinn