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Joy Serves G*d in Joy as a passionate performing percussionist, poet, publisher, photographer, publicist, sound healer, spiritual guide, artist, gardener and Gemini. "Ivdu Et Hashem B'Simcha" -Psalm 100:2 ....... Joy Krauthammer, active in the Jewish Renewal, Feminist, and neo-Chasidic worlds for over three decades, kabbalistically leads Jewish women's life-cycle rituals. ... Workshops, and Bands are available for all Shuls, Sisterhoods, Rosh Chodeshes, Retreats, Concerts, Conferences & Festivals. ... My kavanah/intention is that my creative expressive gifts are inspirational, uplifting and joyous. In gratitude, I love doing mitzvot/good deeds, and connecting people in joy. In the zechut/merit of Reb Shlomo Carlebach, zt'l, I mamash love to help make our universe a smaller world, one REVEALING more spiritual consciousness, connection, compassion, and chesed/lovingkindness; to make visible the Face of the Divine... VIEW MY COMPLETE PROFILE and enjoy all offerings.... For BOOKINGS write: joyofwisdom1 at gmail.com, leave a COMMENT below, or call me. ... "Don't Postpone Joy" bear photo montage by Joy. Click to enlarge. BlesSings, Joy


My Birthday Dance
- Joy Krauthammer
June 5, 2008

I'm still smiling after being home for a full hour and it's now 10:33 pm, June 4th, almost my birthday.
Don't usually keep smiling after a good community experience; maybe by the time I'm at the car, the smile disappears, and I'm sadly aware that it is gone, and wonder why. Why can't I keep it? Like holding onto a wave at the Pacific Ocean but it does not stay, as much as I want to keep it and bring it home with me.
Is my smile truly radiating from the inside? from the night's happening and my heart's joy, or from the Trader Joe's Black Forest Cake - gluten-free (which means I am glutton-free)? that I bought for myself on the way home, out of their freezer box and have now had a slightly defrosted slice. I could have bought a pound and a half of good fresh cherries for what I paid, but the thought of a couple cherries between the chocolate layers really turned me on for my birthday treat so I indulged myself.
OK, I also bought the Tofurkey Italian Sausage with sun dried tomatoes and basil which is spicy like an Italian sausage that would be sold at the New York San Genaro Festival way downtown where the Mafia hung out. Religiously I don't eat that so I settle for the fake one. I microwaved the sausage for 30 seconds the moment I got home after first listening to a birthday message wishing me love, joy and beauty. My dad Joseph, z'l, fifty years ago, pointed out to me from a NY downtown street in Little Italy, the restaurant seats seen through the window where the gang hung out; some big names. They're probably murdered by now. Dad was in the shmata business and his partner Johnny was Italian, so he knew. I don't think they sold Hebrew National at the festival, maybe just in the small street carts further uptown as they do now, or on the Lower East Side.
Tonight I bought and brought a big box of big strawberries to REMO's intimate Wednesday drum jam because it is my erev birthday. I only told REMO's manager Mike that I brought the berries to share for my birthday. (Last year I brought cookies.) I forgot to invite my friends to come drumming with me-- forgot. It's OK, turns out that Valley friend Suzanne left town today. Maybe Hare would have come. They drum when I invite them on my birthday each year. My drum friend, Paul, knew it was my birthday, because I reminded him that his sax birthday song for me last year at REMO was a highlight so he got the hint and played me again as soon as I walked in. I expressed my desire and received.
Sitting in my drum circle seat and wearing a pretty new silky feeling long-sleeved top looking like a Monet abstract water painting (and I never wear green!) that I bought for my birthday, after playing on djembe for a long time, along with shakers, timbrel, and guiro, (especially since I'd closely watched Salsa musicians this weekend but decided against the cow bell), I then saw the big REMO drum head hanging on it's big stand, off to the side of the drum circle, on the other side of the room from where I sat-- near the big Samba drums, closer to where drummers Steve and Princess play. It's at least ten feet across. I wanted to play it, and I did it. I celebrated my birthday playing and dancing with REMO's giant drum head, ooh la la.
The REMO drum is on a big tall drum stand (like a gong stand so I guess the drum head is like a gong) at least 12 feet high with the drum hanging, reaching a foot from the ground. I've noticed it has been missing from the room for many months. I think this is a new drum head, maybe getting it ready, primed for the next Rose Bowl Parade. The earlier hanging drums in the room are the ones, seen on TV, that have led the Parade with the REMO drummers proudly walking the miles.
I told myself, don't hesitate, that this is my chance to play the big drum. I already was not dancing in the middle of the drum circle, the way my friend Reisa, and another woman were dancing. There's a place I can't step over and into in certain places, although at times I have, and in other places, it's easy and I flow.
I got up, walked past the musicians, and placed my self in front of and in the middle of the biggest one of a kind drum, and put my hands on the middle of the skin, or what I thought was the middle, and played. Turns out that the middle is really higher up. Just felt like middle to me because I did not comprehend the immensity of the drum. Never have I played it before the way I played it tonight. I've given another a shy, subtle tap in acknowledgment, maybe even a hit with a fist.
I gave myself permission to celebrate all by myself, to let go, be free to be me. Do what I wanted to do, enjoy it, close my eyes, and not hold back. I listened to my voice in my inner chamber and joined forces, connecting. I released initial hesitation, and went to the deeper part of myself, my authenticity and challenged myself. I met myself and had communication. I got the swing of it, and I drummed the whole head--what I could reach which was totality for me, and then found much higher, the middle "sweet spot" with my arms stretched far and wide and up and over and across and I played. I was a child in a play yard on the highest swing, and a skater on the Olympics' ice reaching the rink's furthest corners. I was conductor of the drum playing the whole thing. My body, head to toe, danced from side to side as I played. I didn't just have to 'stand' there the way I drum when I sit in circle. (Thank goodness I stand when I perform so I can and do dance.) I could only play and touch Spirit as high as my hand could reach and I missed several feet of playing space above.
It was fun playing the whole head surface as far as I could stretch. I reached the edges to the left and to the right, could play up and across, but playing down was awkward, I'd turn my hand around, extending facing down, unlike anything I'd do on my djembe or dumbek, but I wanted an expansive experience and I was having it.
The air was lifting my hand off the head, bouncing my whole hand like a trampoline; I was gettin' played. After I played a long time, entraining myself while the other couple dozen drummers played fast jazzy African, Cuban riffs, I realized my curiosity-- that I wanted to play the drum from the rear. There was more to play. Walking around the drum, I put my right hand on the back of the drum and standing by the drum's side, at the same time, with my left hand, played the drum skin now on the reverse side from me-- the front. I was on the inside! The sound was much more clear, booming vibrant from the rear; sounded like rhythmic thunder from the front. I could see the shadow of my hand and that was exciting. I played from the rear watching my left hand like a Balinese shadow puppet on the front. One hand on front seen as shadow, one hand in back, at the same time; they played with each other. The dim room lighting was good for shadow. Kind of like the new moon's sliver tonight.
Imagine in a parade playing upright hand cymbals; sort of like this.. And I danced the whole time; Danced the whole skin. The way a band drummer, Francesco, played a dozen plus years ago and I emulated him. I had envied him. He was on the largest enticing REMO djembe (must have been a couple feet in diameter) before I ever even knew Remo Belli. Francesco played all over the drum head, fascinating me and I wanted to do the same. And I did! Oh, I wanted to be in his band with lead singer Harry, z'l all the time, not just when they let me play a house concert with the guys. So I got my own bands. I reached my dreams.
Tonight I closed my eyes and danced with my feet, with my hands, and with my heart and soul just danced. It was my birthday dance and I was filled with joy.
I danced on the drum head and danced on the floor and made myself very happy. This was my liberation dance; It felt so good. I loved dancing to the right and dancing to the left with my feet and dancing my hands up high, and still not reaching that last four or five feet of skin. As high as I stretched I still couldn't play it all. My body played that drum. I stretched a yard in each direction at the same time. I played and played.
I played for me and my freedom of expression. I played a gift to myself, and that felt good, of something beyond where I've been til now. Trespassed, and transcended my own limitations of wanting yet not taking for myself. Another gate to climb up and over to what I don't know on the other side.
Like when I climbed over the closed locked Hebrew University gates in Jerusalem (wearing a skirt) and also in the locked Fort Worth,Texas botanical garden, to literally get into where my soul needed to be. Maybe it's part of climbing the mountain and surpassing where I've been and going higher in awareness and connection. It's like when in Eilat eight years ago, with fear, I snorkeled alone far out into the waters to experience the coral, and I was scared, but I did it and I was in heaven in a temple of water. Or five years ago, when from a boat I snorkeled in Tahiti with the big black rays and one caressed me wrapping his body around my chest, and I was in absolute ecstasy. And five years ago when I kayaked myself in the San Juan Islands to a close-by little island, looking back to see from where I'd spiritually come and left, at the shore line. Each time I transform from my transcendence and further liberate myself to come closer to Oneness.
Just before leaving REMO for the night, earlier than the others so I could stop at Trader Joe's (I was the last one left in the store and they locked the doors), I brought Reisa over and showed her how to play the drum standing on the side edge and from the rear back so that you can see the shadow of your left hand on the front of the drum as you play the back with your right hand. WOW, exciting. and yes, I'm still smiling, and it's 11:30 PM...
P.S.  And now almost an hour beyond that, I am still smiling, radiating from deep inside, half asleep and with only half an eye open.
I share the Black Forest birthday cake with my sister, Faye, tomorrow. Can't be a total glutton. I even sang myself Happy Birthday, alone, at home, and it's OK. I asked Marcel, z'l to listen and past midnight, it's now June 5th and I can go to sleep happy. I've done something I've never done before and on my birthday my intention was achieved as I met myself in my soul's joy, transcended, and I smile deeply from my heart's inner chamber.
~ ~ ~

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