Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Homemade goodness

This holiday season has been such a treat for us, both literally, and figuratively. We received homemade cookies and jam from five of our wonderful neighbors. As what has now become a holiday tradition, we made a ton of rice krispy treats (my dessert range is not very wide) to give out as well. Whether in the receiving, or even more so in the giving, there is nothing tastier than homemade desserts, especially from those who are a part of your community and everyday life. Love thy neighbor as thyself. Pretty simple instructions.

Each night we are picking out different combinations of the cookies. Tonight we get to check out the penny sized gingerbread that Emily made with her daughter, Ella, and Cindy's pecan fudge. Last night we had Jerry's shortbread cookies in the shape of candy canes, laced like challah (well, it is Hanukkah as well!), and Elizabeth's chocolate chip dollops.

Due to the snowbound roads, we haven't yet partaken of Jane's without equal "Stockwell Sisters" shortbread cookies. They melt in your mouth, "like buttah." Yo, Jane, the weather is clearing. You know where to find us!

One can never stress enough the importance of making, and eating, food with love. It is the fundamental ingredient. And, of course, we all know that food made with love has no calories. It is one of those laws of energy of which we are particularly grateful.

I received this adorable photo in an email yesterday, part of a longer one with several photos. But this one just made me stop and smile. Thank you to whoever took this, and for your humor. Your dog is teaching you well.

Monday, December 22, 2008

On being transparent

trans·par·ent (trāns-pâr'ənt, -pār'-) Pronunciation Key

1. Capable of transmitting light so that objects or images can be seen as if there were no intervening material.
2. Permeable to electromagnetic radiation of specified frequencies, as to visible light or radio waves.
3. So fine in texture that it can be seen through; sheer.
4.Easily seen through or detected; obvious: transparent lies.
5. Obsolete: Shining through; luminous.

[Middle English, from Old French, from Medieval Latin trānspārēns, trānspārent-, present participle of trānspārēre, to show through : Latin trāns-, trans- + Latin pārēre, to show.]
trans·par'ent·ly adv.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition

I find it amusing that some people think it is a bad thing to be transparent, as when they say, snidely, "You're so transparent. I can see right through you."

When did guilelessness go out of fashion? If only more people came from their truth, we would have fewer miscommunications, and fewer tangled weaves. It's also easier to maintain ones story when it never strays from the truth.

That's why I love dogs so much. They never lie. Like the fifth definition listed above, which is now considered obsolete (guess over time humans didn't rise enough to the occasion to warrant its continuance), dogs never stray from a constant state of luminosity. They are beacons for those who appreciate divine love on a daily basis.

Take today, for example. It has not stopped snowing all week, and the piles are getting high. Sadie is starting to get really tired of having to do her business with the snow right up her butt. She is not one to hide her displeasure.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Just a Dog

Just A Dog

From time to time, people tell me, "lighten up, it's just a dog,"
or, "that's a lot of money for just a dog."

They don't understand the distance traveled, the time spent, or the costs involved for "just a dog."

Some of my proudest moments have come about with "just a dog."

Many hours have passed and my only company was "just a dog,"
but I did not once feel slighted.

Some of my saddest moments have been brought about by "just a dog,"
and in those days of darkness, the gentle touch of "just a dog" gave me comfort and reason to overcome the day.

If you, too, think it's "just a dog," then you will probably understand
phrases like "just a friend," "just a sunrise," or "just a promise."

"Just a dog" brings into my life the very essence of friendship, trust,
and pure unbridled joy.

"Just a dog" brings out the compassion and patience that make me a better person.

Because of "just a dog", I will rise early, take long walks and look longingly to the future.

So for me and folks like me, it's not "just a dog" but an embodiment of all the hopes and dreams of the future, the fond memories of the past, and the pure joy of the moment.

"Just a dog" brings out what's good in me and diverts my thoughts away
from myself and the worries of the day.

I hope that someday they can understand that it's not "just a dog",
but the thing that gives me humanity and keeps me from being "just a person."

So the next time you hear the phrase "just a dog"
just smile...
because they "just don't understand."

by Richard Biby

Thank you Cindy for sending the poem, and especially for "getting" it. And, thank you Jane, for the harassing voice mails for my lack of entries this week. I am still debating whether that will cost you a Hail Mary, or two.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

A Mother's Love is Ever Present

The mother of a close friend of mine passed away this morning. Her mother had a stroke a few months back, and her three daughters have stayed at her bedside, watching over her and taking care of her, night and day. It has been a long and painful journey for all, especially my gentle friend, who has a big heart. She has been a nurse for the elderly for many years, but nothing prepares you for the death of your own mother. Her heart is aching heavily and her grief has been overwhelming at times through this journey. I promised her that while her mom deals with the paperwork (the debriefing for the transition out of the pain that was held in her present body), her energy will always be around her. My mother died almost six years ago and yet her comforting energy is with me in every breath I take. She is around me in a grove of trees. She is with me in the loving fur ball that is Sadie, our sweet lab. A mother's love never leaves her children. Like the infinite sequence of the Fibonacci numbers that eventually progress toward the golden mean, children are energy spirals within the spiral of the unconditional love that is the mother. It is just one of those universal laws of energy.

Jane had a co-worker, Krystine, send me this picture of her with her baby girl, Nellie. Look how happy Krystine is in the embrace of unconditional love. The Divine Mother (God, the Goddess, the Source) knew what she was doing when she created dogs. She knew one day all daughters will go through the grieving process of losing their mothers. Dogs carry on the divine love of the Mother, all mothers. Good call, Jane.

Monday, December 8, 2008

The Eye of God

This is another picture taken by the Hubble Telescope (your tax dollars actually creating something beneficial, as they were intended). It has been labeled, The Eye of God. True perfection looking down on true perfection looking back up at true perfection, in a never ending cycle. That is what love looks like as energy. Pretty cool. Enjoy its beauty. Enjoy its truth.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Inner Strength

Saw this quote online today. Don't know who wrote it. Might have been Sadie.

"If you can start the day without caffeine or pep pills,

If you can be cheerful, ignoring aches and pains,

If you can resist complaining and boring people with your troubles,

If you can eat the same food everyday and be grateful for it,

If you can understand when loved ones are too busy to give you time,

If you can overlook when people take things out on you when,

through no fault of yours, something goes wrong,

If you can take criticism and blame without resentment,

If you can face the world without lies and deceit,

If you can conquer tension without medical help,

If you can relax without liquor,

If you can sleep without the aid of drugs,

If you can do all these things,

Then you are probably the family dog."

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Giving Thanks

Sadie says she can't eat another bite. Happy Dog. She is our daily reminder of how much we have for which to be grateful. Breathing in the unconditional love freely and joyfully radiating from a dog is to know that the universe is truly a magical and loving place.

Happy Thanksgiving. Feel the love!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

We are all Cracked Pots

An oldie, but goodie (the best always are) -

A water bearer in India had two large pots, each hung on each end of a pole which he carried across his neck. One of the pots had a crack in it, and while the other pot was perfect and always delivered a full portion of water at the end of the long walk from the stream to the master's house, the cracked pot arrived only half full.

For a full two years this went on daily, with the bearer delivering only one and a half pots full of water in his master's house. Of course, the perfect pot was proud of its accomplishments, perfect to the end for which it was made. But the poor cracked pot was ashamed of its own imperfection, and miserable that it was able to accomplish only half of what it had been made to do.

After two years of what it perceived to be a bitter failure, it spoke to the water bearer one day by the stream. "I am ashamed of myself, and I want to apologize to you." Why? asked the bearer. "What are you ashamed of?"

"I have been able, for these past two years, to deliver only half my load because this crack in my side causes water to leak out all the way back to your master's house. Because of my flaws, you have to do all of this work, and you don't get full value from your efforts," the pot said.

The water bearer felt sorry for the old cracked pot, and in his compassion he said, "As we return to the master's house, I want you to notice the beautiful flowers along the path." Indeed, as they went up the hill, the old cracked pot took notice of the sun warming the beautiful wild flowers on the side of the path, and this cheered it some. But at the end of the trail, it still felt bad because it had leaked out half its load, and so again it apologized to the bearer for its failure.

The bearer said to the pot, "Did you notice that there were flowers only on your side of your path, but not on the other pot's side? That's because I have always known about your flaw, and I planted flower seeds on your side of the path, and every day while we walk back from the stream, you've watered them. For two years I have been able to pick these beautiful flowers to decorate my master's table. Without you being just the way you are, he would not have this beauty to grace his house."

-- Author Unknown

The adorable picture is of two incredibly creative and loving cracked pots, Kristina and Lee.

Go and spread some joy.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Here's looking at you, kid

"Botulinum toxin is a neurotoxic protein produced by the bacterium Clostridium botulinum. It is one of the most poisonous naturally occurring substances, and it is the most toxic protein."
---Montecucco C, Molgó J (2005). "Botulinal neurotoxins: revival of an old killer".

The first time I heard about botulism poisoning was when I was a kid. In 1971, after a husband died, and his wife got seriously ill, there was a recall in the New York area on cans of "Bon Vivant" vichyssoise soup. Swollen cans had been discovered that were contaminated with the botulin toxin. Every since then my mother made sure to never buy a dented can at the grocery store.

Zoom forward thirty years. Now you can not pick up a magazine, or watch a television segment on Hollywood, and the rich and famous, and not see the tell tale signs of the proliferation of Botox. In just the last quarter, U.S. botox sales rose thirteen percent to three-hundred-sixteen million dollars. Allergan, the company who manufactures Botox, saw revenue jump 23 percent to $1.08 billion from $877 million last year. I just don't get why people feel the need to want to paralyze their faces in order to remove wrinkles. They are voluntarily injecting poison into their faces, again, and again. And, with the less than subtle inducement from greedy doctors, they are even having Botox parties! Whatever became of the physician's tenet to first do no harm?

Wrinkles are beautiful testaments to our life stories. It boggles my mind, and saddens me, to think people want to erase who they are. Crinkles around the eye, and "smile" wrinkles make someone so much more approachable and gentle. Smooth foreheads and motionless faces are for bodies who are no longer alive.

We are made in the perfect image that the universe (God, Goddess, the Divine Mother) had intended for us. Leave the botox for the dented soup cans.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Come as you are

On the left, His Holiness the XIVth DALAI LAMA -
"Dalai" means "Ocean" in Mongolian, and is a translation of the Tibetan name "Gyatso," while "Lama" is the Tibetan equivalent of the Sanskrit word "guru," and is commonly translated to mean "spiritual teacher." Putting the terms together, the full title is "Ocean Teacher" meaning a teacher who is spiritually as deep as the ocean.

On the right - a cute LLAMA -

1. A domesticated South American ruminant mammal (Lama glama) related to the camel, raised for its soft, fleecy wool and used as a beast of burden.
2. Any of various other mammals of the genus Lama, such as the alpaca and guanaca.

Friday will be the one year anniversary of the passing of my father. He was a sweet man. They say it takes a full year to experience the ebbs and flows of the grief process. Sometimes the grief just smacks ya right in the kisser. Other times it is a tiny pang in the gut when a memory surfaces and one is reminded of their absence.

My father had a marvelous sense of humor. He would have loved this image, and would have probably smiled, tipped a pretend top hat, and said, "Hellooo Dolly".

Monday, November 10, 2008

A State of Gracie

“Until one has loved an animal a part of one's soul remains unawakened.”
---Anatole France

Oh happy day! Sweet little Jackie (aka "Nails" in her role as catcher on her girl's softball team) is getting her first dog. Of course she knew she would be named Gracie. A "state of grace" is the condition of being in God's favor or one of the elect. I like to think that the elect is decided by the Divine Dog High Council who chooses who is to be "graced" with the responsibility and privilege of having a dog teach them about life's lessons. Jackie has been blessed. Actually, twice blessed, as she has loving parents and older brothers who look out for her. With blessing comes great reward and even greater responsibility. Congrats, girlie. I know you will give Gracie a magical life, and in return she will steadfastly love you and cheer you on to great feats, and good works.

Reverend Martha's husband, and partner in crime, Bob, told me yesterday about a famous speech given by George Graham Vest (1830-1904) a U.S. Senator from Missouri. He began his career as a trial lawyer (always a good choice for future redemption!). This was his summation speech in a case where his client sued another man for killing his dog. As a member of that jury, George would have gotten my vote (though I would have been kicked off in voir dire by the defense for wanting the death penalty for the cretin who would kill a precious dog).

Gentlemen of the Jury: The best friend a man has in the world may turn against him and become his enemy. His son or daughter that he has reared with loving care may prove ungrateful. Those who are nearest and dearest to us, those whom we trust with our happiness and our good name may become traitors to their faith. The money that a man has, he may lose. It flies away from him, perhaps when he needs it most. A man's reputation may be sacrificed in a moment of ill-considered action. The people who are prone to fall on their knees to do us honor when success is with us, may be the first to throw the stone of malice when failure settles its cloud upon our heads.

The one absolutely unselfish friend that man can have in this selfish world, the one that never deserts him, the one that never proves ungrateful or treacherous is his dog. A man's dog stands by him in prosperity and in poverty, in health and in sickness. He will sleep on the cold ground, where the wintry winds blow and the snow drives fiercely, if only he may be near his master's side. He will kiss the hand that has no food to offer. He will lick the wounds and sores that come in encounters with the roughness of the world. He guards the sleep of his pauper master as if he were a prince. When all other friends desert, he remains. When riches take wings, and reputation falls to pieces, he is as constant in his love as the sun in its journey through the heavens.

If fortune drives the master forth, an outcast in the world, friendless and homeless, the faithful dog asks no higher privilege than that of accompanying him, to guard him against danger, to fight against his enemies. And when the last scene of all comes, and death takes his master in its embrace and his body is laid away in the cold ground, no matter if all other friends pursue their way, there by the graveside will the noble dog be found, his head between his paws, his eyes sad, but open in alert watchfulness, faithful and true even in death.

---George Graham Vest - c. 1855

P.S. Of course he won the case!

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Happiness is a warm puppy. - Charles Schulz

"Dogs are our link to paradise. They don't know evil or jealousy or discontent. To sit with a dog on a hillside on a glorious afternoon is to be back in Eden, where doing nothing was not boring--it was peace."
- Milan Kundera

"Sasha and Malia, I love you both more than you can imagine," President-elect Barack Obama told his daughters in his election night address. "You have earned the puppy that is coming with us."

The Obamas are looking at finding a rescue dog at the pound. I cried when I read that news. To borrow a phrase, "one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind", there is no greater concentration of love and compassion than what comes bundled in a rescue dog. It is just one of the laws of the universe.

Thank you, Michelle Obama. Sadie, our eleven year old puppy, said you done good.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Vi veri universum vivus vici

"By the power of truth, I, while living, have conquered the universe".

---A Latin phrase of unknown origin

Remember, remember the Fifth of November...this line is from the provocatively mindblowing Wachowski Brother's movie (and the original comic book series), V for Vendetta. Tomorrow is a powerful day. If our country is meant to move toward the light, then I think tomorrow will usher in a new era. This nation has been so focused on spewing anger and hate, forced to chase its tail to deal with the hemorrhaging that this hate has wrought. No wonder our actions in other countries are only causing enemies to sprout exponentially. Our planet, Mother Earth, has suffered under the increased destruction of her freely given precious resources, and irrevocably waning resources, if the destruction does not cease. What is oft forgotten is that loving one another, and being of service to others, actually takes much less effort than hate. In fact, true love for all sentient beings is effortless when one comes from a centered place of joy, compassion and forgiveness. Like breathing (though some even forget that simple step), this practice needs to be embraced daily. The rewards are priceless, and the joy is infectious, creating a paradigm of infinite abundance and happiness to the collective psyche. It goes without saying that magic happens with greater frequency!

After the upheaval of King Henry VIII's tumultuous and narcissistic reign, the reign of his daughter, Queen Elizabeth, proved to be a time of an unprecedented cultural renaissance and creative expression. Shakespeare, the bard of truth, took center stage, literally. This revival marked a transition from the medieval to the modern world.

The term "renaissance" means to be born again.

So, here is to praying for the light, and all that is beautiful and balanced in this world. It is 2008. I think this rebirth is upon us, and long overdue.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

To the victor go the spoils

In the practice of tolerance, one's enemy is the best teacher.
--His Holiness, the XIV Dalai Lama

I like to have Tibetan prayer flags fluttering amongst the trees outside our house. They are a set of five colorful cloth panels, one for each element, air, earth, wind, fire, and the fifth element, ether. Ether is quintessence, of which the cosmos and all celestial bodies are made. To me, ether represents love, the combination of the other four elements. It is also considered magic in its tangible form. Seeing the prayer flags from our windows, sending out their joyful prayers with the wind, is very comforting. They spread compassion and good will for all.

However, the other day I noticed the flags on the walnut tree were hanging limply down on one side, the string having been severed. We had had some windy days and I thought the wind caused the string to break. So I went out with a ladder and hammer and reconnected the line. The next day the flags were again hanging down. Not to be deterred, I went out and put in a couple more thumbtacks to secure them. Yesterday, I was looking out the living room window and saw a squirrel cutting through the string. He seemed to notice that I saw him. He looked my way for a few seconds, then shook his tail, as if in triumph. Miffed by what I perceived as an "anthropomorphic" insult, I decided to give chase after "Rocky". By the time I got outside, not only had he cut both sides of the strings, but he had absconded with four of the panels, leaving ether behind.

Today Rocky went for the flags on the other side of the house. I must give kudos to this warrior. He is one funny mofo of a teacher. And definitely well fed, as we were also cleaned out of practically every walnut by his tribe this year. We will meet again with the next crop and see who prevails. May we claim a future victory with tasty banana walnut bread (so deliciously baked by our pioneer neighbor, Ms. Cindy!).

Thus, somewhere out amongst the trees, is one really nifty vibrantly colored nest, occupied by one very feisty and proud owner. I tip my hat to you, fat boy...for now.

Monday, October 13, 2008

"'Beauty is truth, truth beauty,—that is all
Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.'"
---John Keats

Friday, October 10, 2008

Being of Service is the Antidote to Fear

Happy Friday, or happy whatever day this is for you! For your health and happiness, and for the health and happiness of your loved ones, it is very important that you don't buy into the scary "hologram" of panic and mass hysteria that is being perpetuated in the media these days. Fear is not a good energy in which one ought vibrate. It's hard on the system, physically, and emotionally (which are in essence, the same). You might have been finding yourself feeling oppressed and powerless by all the negative energy that has been swirling. It almost feels palpable and all consuming. Holograms work that way. They seem so real because so many people seem to see them, which thus gives credence that they must exist. Despite the mass agreement, they are illusions. As a negative energy, fear is an illusion. The universe has no negative energy. The universe is created by pure unconditional love as its source (look at those glorious photos of the galaxy from my last blog and you will only witness joy). Do not tap into negative energies such as fear and rage. If you have, visualize removing the cord that is connected to a huge zeppelin that is hovering in the sky and feeding negativity into the hearts of those who have tapped into it. It may seem like it is everywhere we turn and it is not always an easy task to not get fooled into tapping into it again and again. Trust that you have the ability to recognize when you are tapped back in and in being able to remove yourself if you find you have spiraled back in. The key to awareness is in taking the time to stop---and to take a deep breath. Repeat as often as necessary (at least three full breaths at a minimum). Visualize tapping a cord from your whole being into unconditional love that flows from below as Mother Earth, and from above, as the Divine Universe. Notice that with each breath, you start feeling a sense of peace. Become aware of being truly in the moment, and in your body, as that represents all that you are, and all that you truly represent. Wherever you go, there you are. Feel good being your body. Act like you are a happy dog that walks around wagging his or her tail. (I just love watching Cesar "The Dog Whisperer" Millan show clients what a happy dog looks like by channeling his own inner dog. It is the cutest thing going!) Smile if you see a stranger passing by. Smile at yourself in the bathroom mirror. Tap into the joy of the universe, and fill your body with happiness. The energy of the universe is all around you in abundance, and is free. Trust that the universe provides everything you need, and in return, all that is asked is that you smile, spread joy, and be of service. Being of service starts with being of service to yourself (this initial piece is crucial, and encompasses the aforementioned breathing steps, being gentle with yourself, embracing forgiveness of self and repeating as necessary), then, in accordance with the fundamental laws of energy and transfiguration, you will find yourself transforming into a beacon of light for others. And, voila! This automatically results in you being of service to others in whatever form it takes. And regardless of form, you get to experience what it feels like to be the richest person on the planet. And, you will be. One need not live a lavish lifestyle to lead a rich life. Go hug a tree, pet a dog, and enjoy the glorious fall day.

Sending prayers of light and love for His Holiness, the XIVth Dalai Lama, for a swift recovery.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Feel the Magic - Be the Magic

A friend sent me these pics of the galaxy taken from the Hubble Telescope. The universe is so unbelievable and awe inspiring. It is perfect magical and divine energy and it is there to be accessed by anyone. Too many people are thinking small these days and ending up feeling lacking in their lives. They need only look around and see how enormous our universe is and how much magic there is to go around. Bring it in by breathing the images inside and becoming one with the energy. Just like these breathtaking images, by becoming this wondrous mass of light, the journey divine is destined to be filled with boundless joy, and unlimited happiness. Breathe deeply and smile brightly, knowing you are emanating some powerful, loving mojo.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Charity begins at Home

Self discovery always precedes forgiveness of self.

Forgiveness of self always precedes self discovery.

To forgive is to have compassion.

To have compassion is to forgive.

Compassion begats unconditional love.

Unconditional love begats compassion.

Unconditional love of self and others creates a blissful state of sustained and well fed forgiveness and compassion toward self and others.

All needs are met.

All is good.

Blessed be.

---Sadie, via her human scribe.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Mother of All Things

I have been extra blessed these past few weeks in getting to have some exciting mother/daughter healing sessions. It is such a powerful fusion when two people come for a healing together. Years of therapy get rolled up in one exponential mindblowing session. And the love that fills the room is pure divinity. How cool is it to know how much you are loved as a mother, and as a daughter, and as two souls...and to be able to acknowledge that in the present, for the future, and ultimately as forgiveness for any misunderstandings from the past. So, to honor this part of the journey, here is an apt Lao Tzu quote I found today on Eknath Eaaswaran's Timeless Wisdom for Daily Meditation website...

Mother of All Things

The universe had a beginning
Called the Mother of All Things.
Once you have found the Mother
You can know her children.
Having known the children,
Hold tightly to the Mother.
Your whole life will be preserved from peril.

Open up the openings,
Multiply your affairs,
Your whole life will become a burden.

Those who see the small are called clear-headed;
Those who hold to gentleness are called strong.

Use the light.
Come home to your true nature.
Don't cause yourself injury:
This is known as seizing truth.

(Chapter 52 of the Tao Te Ching, a collection of verses about Tao – "the Way," the indivisible unity of life – traditionally ascribed to the great Chinese mystic Lao Tzu.)

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Reverence for those who came before us

"Gratitude bestows reverence, allowing us to encounter everyday epiphanies, those transcendent moments of awe that change forever how we experience life and the world."
John Milton

I love to meet older people who shine. They reflect a life spent giving joy and adding good light to the world. I was walking around Lost Lake this weekend and came to the spot on the lake where Mt. Hood soars gloriously in the distance. Mt. Hood is awe inspiring. I stopped to take a picture. Nearby, was a picnic table. Sitting at it were two gentle souls having lunch. Margaret and Ady. Best friends for years. Margaret is 79 and Ady is 85. I hope I have as much energy as they do when I am their age. We yakked for awhile, and with each passing minute, I felt more and more healed by being in the presence of two happy souls who have blossomed on their journey. Older folks are like majestic trees, wise and possessing a deep understanding of compassion and forgiveness. The beauty of Mt. Hood only magnified the glory of the exchange. To add icing on the cake, Ady gave me some of her homemade brownies to take back to the cabin for my honey, who was being such a trooper by hiking everywhere Sadie and I wanted to go. Food is love, and I could taste Ady's eight decades of cooking for those she loves as well. So, I thank you, Ady and Margaret. I am grateful for the brownies, and for the two of you being guiding lights who emanate as wise beacons for those who are fortunate to follow in your footsteps.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

A Clarion Call to Save the Planet

“Basically we are all the same human beings with the same potential to be a good human being or a bad human being ... The important thing is to realize the positive side and try to increase that; realize the negative side and try to reduce. That's the way.”

---His Holiness, the XIVth Dalai Lama

I try to stay away from politics in my blog, but I just can't today. It's scary out there. I keep thinking about Stephen King's epic novel, The Stand. I love Stephen King's works. He is one of those chosen writers who channel classic mythological truths, delivered as only a masterful storyteller can deliver. In the novel, after an apocalyptic event, survivors are split along two factions, one that is being called to follow the light and seek out an elderly black woman, Mother Abagail. The others are moved to follow an evil biker dude who is connected to Satan, Randall Flagg. It feels like this fictional story has many parallels to what is being acted out in America today. I am saddened by all the meanness that is going on in our country today. People are making lines in the sand and crossing their arms in belligerent stances. Why all the hate and rage? I am scared for the survival of the planet if people vote for the ticket that espouses meanness disguised as compassion - McCain/Palin. I don't understand why someone would be proud of wanting to shoot moose with machine guns from helicopters? How is that showing love of all creatures that share Mother Earth with us? Why is their life not as precious as that of humans? And to kill for sport? We have only one planet and it is imperative that we do everything we can to keep her healthy. Palin knows first hand that Alaska has some of the most beautiful scenic wildlife, and to even think of wanting to destroy nature for our own thirst for oil, is just suicidal for the future of humankind. Destruction of the planet, and the killing of God's creatures, is not the answer. Spewing hate and rattling a saber is the opposite of what great spiritual teachers espouse. Rather, we are taught to turn the other cheek. To forgive. To love thy neighbor as thyself. To be tender toward one another. To be compassionate in the true sense of the word. This pairing of McCain and Palin have forged a covenant based on revenge and meanness. They have been blinded by the clarion trumpet of war. Hopefully, there are more survivors of a very tough eight years who are heeding the clarion call for peace. The bottom line is we need to focus our efforts on protecting Mother Earth, the mother of all mothers. The survival of the planet depends on a shift toward the light, one human being at a time.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Angels we have heard on high

"The glory of friendship is not the outstretched hand, nor the kindly smile, nor the joy of companionship;
it is the spiritual inspiration that comes to one when you discover that someone else believes in you and is willing to trust you with a friendship."
---Ralph Waldo Emerson

Yesterday was yet another glorious day spent hiking with Reverend Martha. She had been excited to try Angel's Rest hike in the Gorge. It was billed as a strenuous hike, but, as all hikes in the company of Reverend Martha, it felt as if we were floating the whole way up and down. Good company will do that. Along the trail, we met marvelous folk, and some very spunky dogs. The terrain was too rocky for Sadie, so she had to stay at home, albeit getting to spend the afternoon next door at Camp Cheetos (thus named as she gets a Cheeto from Loren after her evening poop).

People on hikes always give off such a glow, undoubtedly from the healing they receive as they walk amongst nature's beauty. At the top of the trail, we met the sweetest couple, Katherine and Matthew. I felt my age when I said to Matthew that he looked like a handsome young Ralph Fiennes, only to receive a blank look in return! The two had taken the hike on their first date four years ago, and decided to go back again. That is a long hike to take on a first date if you find out early on that you don't care for the other person's company! Of course Reverend Martha and I harangued them about getting married at the summit of Angel's Rest! I even pointed out that we had a minister present who could perform the ceremony on the spot. We only harassed them, as it was so easy to see how much love they exuded, and the ease they had in each others company.

Angel's Rest is a sacred spot, and I am grateful for having been led there in the company of an angel. Our friends are our angels, as they accompany us during our journey, and love us, despite our faults and neuroses. They feed us, laugh at us, and with us, and console when needed. More importantly, they let us share their journey as well.

P.S. If you click on the photo, it will enlarge, so you can better see how beautiful the spot is, and the cuteness of Katherine and Matthew. Their smiles say it all!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

To Wally, with Love, from Sadie and her Caretaker

My adorable friend, Shari, forwarded to me an email this morning, which she had received earlier from her man. She and her hunky soul mate, Kurt, have just been "picked" by a sweet black lab named Wally, who has come into their life this year. Funny, it sure seems more than a coinkydink that he showed up shortly after they sealed their commitment and got married! Animals in a relationship are part of that commitment, and blessing, and teach us about unconditional love on a daily basis. There is nothing more wonderfully magical than walking with a dog, whether alone, or with the one(s) you love. Dogs take the time to sniff, without abandon, through the neighborhood in which they live, and allow us to take the time to breathe in joyfully as well. We are wholly grateful that Sadie blessed us by coming into our lives. I once saw a bumper sticker that said something akin to "may you be fortunate to have an older dog to care for in your life". I digress, back to Shari and Kurt's wedding, which was, by the way, a beautiful ceremony on the beach! They gave towels for those of us who wanted to sit on the sand during the ceremony. Kurt and his guy friends wore kilts. It was a sweet affair. I mention the towel bit, as we still use the towel to wipe Sadie's wet paws when she comes in from the outside. I am sure Shari and Kurt would appreciate knowing how their wedding towel (given as a gift, not absconded with!) is being honored by being used to wipe the princess' paws! Our pets bring so much love and joy into our homes. Thus, in honor of Wally, I am pasting Shari's email below, received from her Kurt, who I can see is totally smitten with his boy, Wally! Good job, Wally. Feel the love.


1. My life is likely to last 10-15 years. Any separation
from you is likely to be painful.

2. Give me time to understand what you want of me.

3. Place your trust in me. It is crucial for my

4. Don't be angry with me for long and don't lock
me up as punishment. You have your work, your friends, your
entertainment, but I have only you.

5. Talk to me. Even if I don't understand your words,
I do understand your voice when speaking to me.

6. Be aware that however you treat me, I will never forget

7. Before you hit me, before you strike me, remember that I
could hurt you, and yet, I choose not to bite you.

8. Before you scold me for being lazy or uncooperative, ask
yourself if something might be bothering me. Perhaps I'm not
getting the right food, I have been in the sun too long, or
my heart might be getting old or weak.

9. Please take care of me when I grow old. You too, will
grow old.

10. On the ultimate difficult journey, go with me please.
Never say you can't bear to watch.
Don't make me face this alone. Everything is easier
for me if you are there, because I love you so.

~Take a moment today to thank God for your pets. Enjoy and
take good care of them.
Life would be a much duller, less joyful experience
without God's critters
~Now please pass this on to other pet owners. We do not
have to wait for Heaven, to be surrounded by hope, love, and
joyfulness. It is here on earth and has four legs!

Friday, August 22, 2008

Mom's Noodle Kugel

My parents were a very social couple. When they would go out to dinner parties, Mom would make for me one of my favorite dishes, her stuffed cabbage. Mind you, she wouldn't actually "stuff" the cabbage. In her creation, she had them in layers, with chopped meat and raisins and lots and lots of red pepper flakes. She would use the same white Corning casserole dish with the blue design on the side, and the heavy glass lid. I always ate a huge bowl of this manna from heaven. The sweetness of the raisins in contrast to the spicy pepper was to die for. The other favorite dish of mine was her noodle kugel. There are two kinds, the sweet, which is what most people think of, with raisins and cinnamon, and the savory, cottage cheese, Parmesan,and scallions, which is the kind she made. I am not a good cook. My one claim to fame is my Rice Krispy Treats. People don't realize that there is such an association of love with that treat, that I can't really screw that one up. But, every so often, I need to make my Mom's noodle kugel (though definitely a version that pales in comparison and is not "guest" worthy), and stuff my face. Even the word, kugel, is the perfect definition of onomatopoeia, as the word evinces a warm, fuzzy feel. As I like contrast, the flavors of the Parmesan cheese with the sesame oil make for great mouth feel. But, more importantly, is the tie of the dish connecting me with my Mom. Total comfort food. That's the kind of food mom's make for their kids. Pure love is the main ingredient. So, today, as fitting on the Sabbath (which was important to my Mom), I appreciate her, and all the hardworking Mom's out there. In the perfect world, every day is Mother's Day. Shabbat shalom, shayne maideles.

Here is a picture of my mom, Miriam. Every weekday, she would schlepp home from teaching elementary kids, then don her New York Times apron and make us dinner. Sometimes she was so tired she didn't even change out of her dress and hose. Tired or not, when she smiled, all was right with the world.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Gratitude is Beatitude

"Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are they who mourn,
for they shall be comforted.

Blessed are the meek,
for they shall inherit the earth.

Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they shall be satisfied.

Blessed are the merciful,
for they shall obtain mercy.

Blessed are the pure of heart,
for they shall see God.

Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they shall be called children of God.

Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."

Gospel of St. Matthew 5:3-10

As a nice Jewish girl, I have to say I got a feeling of calmness when I first read the Beatitudes. It is nice to know that truth transcends all religion. However, I initially had a question about the use of the word "poor in spirit", but after doing some research, I read that it meant to be humble. I am down with that. Then, I had a misgiving (questions, always questions!) about the word "meek" describing those who will inherit the earth. I think today's definition of meek as wimpy or spineless, makes this a tough concept to sell. But, when I replace "meek" with "gentle", it makes a lot of sense to me. So many people are out there these days being mean bullies, and setting lines in the sand. Nothing is ever accomplished in anger. Gentleness and kindness work every time. It takes gentleness to have gratitude. And, when one embraces gratitude, the spirit sings out and vibrates at its highest, and thus embodies a state of beatitude, exalted happiness and unconditional love.

I am posting a picture of Ganesh, Mister Happy Camper. He represents enlightenment, which goes hand in hand with exalted happiness. Jesus, Buddha, Ganesh. Different image, but same energy. As His Holiness the XIVth Dalai Lama likes to say, "We are same." One spirit. One heart. One world.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Oh, the Places You'll Go!

"Be who you are, say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind."
— Dr. Seuss

My mother was a dedicated elementary schoolteacher. She would always bring home books for us to read. She preferred the ones that had the stickers on them that showed they were chosen for a Newbery Award or the Caldecott Award (ever the teacher!). I read a lot when I was a kid. I remember lying on my bed, over a two night span, devouring this massive large print version of "Gone with the Wind". (N.B. I know it's grammatically correct to underline books, but this blog site doesn't give me that option.) One of my favorite authors was, and is, Ted Geisel, who, under the pseudonym Dr. Seuss, wrote the classic, "The Cat in the Hat". And, of course, in an honor to all mothers, Seuss is Geisel's middle name, and, more importantly, his mother's maiden name. If my memory of this event isn't fuzzy, my Mom took me and my brother to hear Dr. Seuss read some of his books in the early 60s at the Menlo Park library. It is amazing to realize that Geisel wrote books that captivated (and still captivates) readers, regardless of age. I think that talent is the mark of a true storyteller. To be able to create a story that teaches all ages, is a sign to me that the writer is delivering parables that are synonymous with life's journey. He has that magical touch wherein his tales have an uplifting redemptive quality without being preachy. For instance, he wrote "The Lorax" in response to people polluting the land with garbage and forsaking the mighty Truffala trees ("I speak for the trees, for the trees have no tongues."). The library in one lumber town in California even tried unsuccessfully to get this book banned. Other books of his dealt with many issues, including discrimination ("The Sneeches"), and nuclear proliferation ("The Butter Book"). As one who learns many lessons from our animals, I do love that Dr. Seuss delivers his messages using animals as his vehicle. The Cat in the Hat is a cat. As Sadie, my lab, points out, cats can be mischievous creatures, who are conflicted at times in their relationships with humans. Knowing my ten year relationship with Max (aka Barf Boy), our oftentimes feisty Tabby, I can see her point. While writing this entry today, Sadie told me that Dr. Seuss was never actually awarded a Newbery, or a Caldecott. However, after delivering this dissonant inducing bit of trivia, prior to retiring for a nap in the sun, she left me with this sage Dr. Seuss bon mot, "You can get help from teachers, but you are going to have to learn a lot by yourself, sitting alone in a room." Funny dog.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Releasing Your Inner Mojo

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” --Marianne Williamson

I have always loved this quote. My friend Marcia and I were exchanging emails this morning. We went to college together many, many moons ago. We both lived in San Francisco after college, but then she moved back East and we lost touch. It has been such a treat to reconnect. We were writing about mantras and she wistfully said she had lost hers, or at least that the one she used wasn't working for her. As I write that, I smile, thinking about that funny scene in the classic movie, Annie Hall. Woody Allen is trying to find the Diane Keaton character, at a trendy new-age party in L.A (where everyone is wearing white!). He overhears a guy talking in a panicked state on the phone to his psychiatrist saying he forgot his mantra. The dictionary says a mantra is a prayer or invocation. To me, the above quote is like a prayer or invocation. I think sometimes people say their mantra over and over, but forget to breathe it in and incorporate it as a part of their being. I don't have a personal mantra per se, but I do know how happy I feel when I start singing the gospel song, "This little light of mine." The song takes its theme from Mathew 5:16, "Let your light shine before men, that they may see your fine works and give glory to your Father who is in the heaven." I read that while it started out as a gospel song, it eventually became identified with the civil rights movement of the 50s and 60s. I must have heard it as a young child from the Paul Robeson records of my liberal, "march on Washington" parents. Looks like my mom and dad gave me a wonderful gift (among many), and for that I am grateful...and will now belt out the song at the top of my lungs, complete with hand clapping. Having had her snack and gotten her needs met for this hour, Sadie doesn't seem to complain, though dogs can't roll their eyes.

P.S. Dave, via Jane, thank you for sending this glorious picture. Letting our light shine is our birthright and a priceless gift.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Gratitude, Joy, and Magic - The Perfect Recipe for Happiness

While on my walk the other day, I stepped into a used bookstore that was closing down shop. A sucker for used bookstores, I had to go in. At the counter was a big glass jar, like the kind they keep candy in with a little scooper to get at the pieces. Inside were little coins with different energies written on their back, and symbols on the front. As usual on my walks, I was instantly mesmerized by the variety of pieces and the different energies. I couldn't decide on just one. I loved the one that had a beaming, smiling sun on it on one side, and the word, Gratitude, on the other. It felt good. Then I picked a smaller one with a faerie on it, and the word, Magic, on the back. Had to have that one. Next was a small one with a flower on one side, and the word, Joy, on the back. Had to have that one as well. Then I started to think about getting some for clients and friends. I kept swimming my hand through the pile to pick out those same three energies again. Had to have mostly Gratitude, then an even number of Magic and Joy. They felt a good kind of heavy in my pocket as I walked home. As the Source is very literal, and funny, magical lessons, of course, were to follow.

The next day I walked around with the Gratitude piece in the pocket of my shorts. Throughout the day I was magically reminded of how grateful I felt for everything that I was experiencing about that day. I had been fortunate to get to go on a downtown walk (sorry, Sadie) with Reverend Martha. We walked for five hours, enjoying each other's company, the trees (always the trees!), the beautiful river that flows through Portland, and, the glorious day that we got to experience together(not to mention a scrumptious turkey and asiago cheese sandwich on a freshly baked baguette made by a local artisan). We both were filled to the rim with gratitude, and even more so, as we shared our pain after walking by a homeless man sleeping in a bag near a bridge.

A friend recently asked me about who Reverend Martha was, as I had mentioned her in a prior email. I said she was a mentor who has magically come into my life and is someone who truly "walks the walk". I described her as an articulate being with heart, humility and humor. I just love smart and funny people who are kind. After sending that description, I sat outside with Sadie and thought about those three words, humility, heart, and humor. Then it dawned on me that those three words can be interchanged with gratitude, magic, and joy. Humility, humanness, and gentleness, to me, is gratitude, a gratefulness for being alive, and blessed. Heart to me equates with joy, as being full of heart is synonymous with being full of joy. And, lastly, humor, to me, is pure magic. I carry around with me (and "in" me) a picture of His Holiness, the IVth Dalai Lama, in the middle of an uproarious laugh. When this picture was being taken, he was talking and had made a joke. He paused, and then said out loud, "I made a joke", with the biggest smile on his face. He then started to laugh with such joy, at which all of us joined along. Every time I see the picture (having it hanging in several places around our home!), I cannot help but laugh again as well. I am meandering, but to get back to my original thread (not that I veered off too far), humor makes for a happy journey, and the journey is the ride. The Source, Mother Love, Mother Earth, Jesus, whoever you choose, is there teaching us to embrace joy, to be open to the magic of it all, to genuinely be grateful, and to breathe in all three with each inhale and to breathe out all three energies with each exhale. Those three energies are integral in helping us appreciate, and embody, the gift we are given. Over time I am sure I will be learning more, as the layers keep revealing themselves. At this time in my awareness, it seems to me, the perfect combination for enlightenment (or the process of intention toward that goal)consists of gratitude, joy, and magic, in equal proportions, albeit, with an extra dollop of gratitude for added sweetness.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Her Name is Wonderful

I finally got to see the peacock strut his stuff. Sadie and I just returned from our afternoon walk (third poop - hers) in the neighborhood. One block down from the Trees of Heaven is a house with a peacock in the side garden. When he makes his very unique peacock raucous cry, it can be heard for blocks. I am glad I don't live next door, but from a few blocks away, it makes me smile. Well, today, as we were strolling by, I heard him. We decided (yes, I am merely the walker - Sadie decides where we are going) to cross the street to see if we could see the bird. There he was, standing majestically by a beautiful cluster of trees, the ones that all come up from one root and exude a strength and presence. The captivating creature looked at us. We looked at him, with appropriate deference, of course. Then, he raised his right foot and held it, like a flamingo, puffed his chest out while putting his head back, and let out his slightly insane sounding cry. Too cool for words. How magical it is to come across a peacock on a walk in the neighborhood. And, to top off my lesson (yes, if one is open to it, every walking meditation can bring with it an amazing gift of self knowledge, if you let it), the old woman who lives there, has a son. His name is Abel (the good one!). But, wait. There's more. The path that leads up to the side of the garden where the peacock has rule of, has an artistically adorned wrought iron gate in front of it. On the top are the words JESUS, and below are the words, His Name is Wonderful. Below that is a depiction of the world and little people crawling around the whole circumference. Whoever welded that piece of art is a gifted craftsman. It was a beautiful reminder that heaven is truly on Mother Earth, if you let her embrace you. As emissaries of unconditional love from the Source, dogs are good reminders, too!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Sadie's Turn

"Dogs are our link to paradise. They don't know evil or jealousy or discontent. To sit with a dog on a hillside on a glorious afternoon is to be back in Eden, where doing nothing was not boring--it was peace."
-- Milan Kundera

Thank you, girl. Yes, I know, it's dinner time.

Monday, July 21, 2008

The Trees of Heaven

"There's a tree that grows in Brooklyn. Some people call it the Tree of Heaven. No matter where its seed falls, it makes a tree which struggles to reach the sky. It grows in boarded up lots and out of neglected rubbish heaps. It grows up out of cellar gratings. It is the only tree that grows out of cement. It grows lushly...survives without sun, water, and seemingly earth."
—A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Introduction

Ask for answers, and the Source is only too happy to oblige. Ask, and ye shall receive. On our daily morning walk, Sadie and I like to go down the street in our neighborhood that has an abundance of unique and stately trees. As there are such distinct seasons in Oregon, I love seeing the different states of the trees, and Sadie loves to sniff the messages left on them from other dogs. I also like to feel the energy from their roots underneath me as I walk by. There are two trees in particular to which I am drawn. They stand about ten feet apart and look like two outstretched arms, rising up from the Earth. I am always reminded to breathe deeply as I walk by them, and to smile widely. They say your body emits happy energy when you smile, even if you are not feeling like smiling right then. Fortunately, that mere act triggers a process that sends that good energy racing through your body, and you end up in a better state of mind. So, today, as we walked by the pair of trees, the owner was sitting on his porch. I said hello and told him how much we love his trees. He thanked me, and said some people even stop their cars to marvel at them. I asked him if he knew what kind they were. He said they were called "Trees of Heaven", and that they grow so fast, and their roots are so deep that they require more maintenance than other trees. I guess if you want to live in Heaven on Earth daily maintenance is called for. I was almost speechless (a rare event) hearing their name, and said I had to rush home to get my camera. I smiled the whole way home! I came back and took some pictures. They don't quite capture the magnificence, but will hopefully make you smile anyway. If you click on the picture, you can see them more fully in their glory!

Being a nerd, I went online to see what I could find out about the trees. I was floored to read that Betty Smith based her book, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn on these marvelous trees. I cried when I read that, and even as I write this, as my Mom was from Brooklyn, and that is one of my favorite books as a child. From this day forward, as I walk by there, I will know those tender, and protective arms that reach up from the Earth are those of Miriam, my mother. She used to always tell me to smile more. I guess some things never change!

I was divinely and happily led to follow the clues that were in front of me. The clues led me back to the source, mother love, in the semblance of two trees with their loving arms open to embrace all who walk by.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

The Purloined Letter

I was at the gym this morning, and while on the elliptical, I looked over and saw a woman working out on a nearby machine. She had her back to me. On her shirt was the saying, "Pain is weakness leaving the body". I smiled, of course, as we are always being given "shout out" messages around us from the Source.

With regard to that message, as a healer, I work with people to help them release their pain. I gently remind them that their body's pain is trying to give them a message. Usually where your pain is, is also where your greatest strengths lie. For example, people who want to sing, may get sore throats more than usual, or someone who is afraid to tell something he or she thinks is shameful, may experience acid reflux, or someone holding onto a secret may suffer from irritable bowels. It's just one of those laws of energy - if you allow your body to be your guide, that which doesn't kill you will ultimately make you stronger. A weakness is often an indicator of fear, and behind the fear "hot spot" is previously untapped strength. Your body is your best friend and advocate, and will always remind you of your capability, gently at first, then in a more extreme fashion, if not acknowledged. You will be surprised at how much power can be found if you trust your body, and allow the pain to surface and be replaced by the strength within. Too often we turn to drugs to numb and block the pain. That merely masks the symptoms and doesn't address the source. Again, always trust the source. It will never lie. The source is genuine truth. To embrace your genuine self, you need only embrace your source. And be patient with the process!

But, I digress from today's aptly named blog, The Purloined Letter. The reference is a tribute to the master storyteller, Edgar Allan Poe. This classic short story is a mystery about a letter stolen by a blackmailer. The twist is that the letter is difficult to find because it is actually placed on a wall, thus hidden in plain sight. The other favorite of mine is Roald Dahl's "Lamb to the Slaughter". A long suffering wife kills her husband with a frozen leg of lamb. When the detective comes over to talk to her, she invites him to dinner and feeds him the leg of lamb. While eating it, he muses out loud that he is sure the evidence is right under his nose. Both stories remind me that our answers are always in front of us. The Source (or you may prefer Universe, or God, the Mother, or Higher Power) always gives us our answers. Oftentimes the answers are delivered in a humorous way. Sometimes we resist the answers and get mad, and stop breathing as deeply as our bodies need. At some point, when we tire of being our own worst enemy, the resistance, which takes significantly more effort, melts away and we accept the truth. Pain is replaced by joy, and we breathe deeply again. We are able to laugh at ourselves and forgive ourselves for harboring such ill will toward self, and/or others. Laughter is a powerful gift we are given as we travel our path of self discovery. Look around you. Ask for some answers. Don't be afraid of what you might receive, as it will always be wrapped in love, and will ultimately make you laugh deeply and lead to releasing long held pain. Be open to the answers by staying present in your body and in the moment. The truth will always set you free. So, be here now. Love your body. It is your temple. Speaking of temples, I have to post this picture of me with my bodyguard. He isn't actually my bodyguard, but a Sikh warrior who I had to have my picture with while visiting the Golden Temple in Amritsar. Ironically, one of my spirit guides is the spitting image of this peaceful warrior! Funny how that works!

Monday, July 14, 2008

We are all offshoots of the Mother Tree

Yep, more Herr Guido. He is back now in Berlin, but during our energy healing sessions, as a request, I asked Guido to take a picture for me of a tree. He had just arrived from Berlin, having never been to the States and was about to leave for a week as a sightseer in New York, and Chicago. It was his assignment. And, I am happy to report (never doubting his talent), he returned triumphantly from his quest. He brought back a photograph of a rather unusual tree. It is a tulip tree. I had never heard of this kind of tree. Guido took the photo at the Vanderbilt estate in upstate New York. (Remember his gorgeous photo of Niagara Falls mentioned in my blog a few weeks back.) He also took a close-up of one of the tulip blossoms on a branch. It made me see how we are all offshoots of trees, our mothers. They gave us life, much as a branch lives off of a tree, and is a creation, a literal "offshoot" of its mother. I asked Guido what was his mother's name. He said her name was "Ingeborg". I told him it was only fitting to name the portrait after his mother. We all have a strong connection to a particular tree. Some of us may be more in touch with which tree has the deepest connection and thus the deepest healing. Fortunately, as part of the big plan, everyone has the capability if they truly go within and listen to the voice that is the sweetest inside. Trusting that voice, too, sometimes takes a little longer for some, but everyone can tap into it and drink from the limitless source. That action is one of the laws of energy and healing. Ask for succor, and there succor will be.

If you would like a rewarding experience, take a walking meditation in your neighborhood to ponder what tree your mother is. I know that may sound corny, and some people may feel too uncomfortable about something so "airy fairy"-ish, but you will have to try it yourself in order to experience the magic. You will be surprised about some of the answers you will certainly receive which will help you on your journey toward the transformation into your genuine self. The genuine self is the one that breathes in and breathes out unconditional love. Just like a tree does. If you are really brave, you can hug a tree and hold it until it hugs back. It can't hurt! So, here is the lovely Ingeborg Tulip Tree, and her proud creation, the Guido Tulip. Enjoy the love!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Tanks be to God

My honey's Aunt Margo always says "Tanks be to God", with a thick Middle Eastern accent. Besides being an absolute doll, she is one of the greatest cooks I have encountered. Her brother Joseph brought her over from Lebanon many years ago, and put her straight to work in their family restaurant. She makes incredibly delicious stuffed grape leaves and yummy kibbeh (which goes swimmingly with tart yogurt or lebne). Her hummus makes my mouth water just thinking about it. I will have to say, however, her tabbouleh isn't the best (that would be my honey's), but everything she makes is infused with the most glorious love in every bite. She never married, but instead took care of everyone else in her family. Talk about a mensch. Every time we would come over for lunch, on our way out, she would hand us some extra grape leaves and those little pizzas with the sumac spice on it...I am going to totally misspell the name, but I think it's lakme bajean...and, she made tons of it for us. The grape leaves melt in your mouth. We could eat a pound in a sitting. I kid Margo all the time about her not going to mass on Sunday with her older sister, Jaenette. She just smiles and says, "For what I should go to the church?! God is everywhere I am." I always tease her by making her tell me she loves me as much as her favorite niece, my honey. She says "of course", with shaking arms raised in emphasis, and a big grin on her face...and, I know she means it...and,yowza...I feel it...and, through her cooking, taste it.

Margo is the one on the right, with the mischievous look on her face. That is the look of someone who knows the answer. She knows it is about unconditional love - 24/7. Yep, tanks be to God...and...the Goddess...especially the goddess.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Sistahs are doing it for themselves

"Sisters are different flowers from the same garden." ~Anonymous

Venus Williams beat her sister in tennis this morning to win the finals at Wimbledon. Her sister beat her the previous two times they met in tennis finals. Later, they will play together as doubles partners. From what I have read, and from interviews I have seen, they have a relationship that is built on a lot of love and respect. And, both cheer each other on, and demand that each other brings her "champion" play to the table. I think that is really cool. So, today's entry is about sisters. Yet, again, I have another one of Herr Guido's perfect photos to convey my words in an image. Last week, at a gathering to celebrate Guido's work, he took photos of guests. When I met these two wonderful sisters, and saw their photo being taken, I said I had to have a copy for my blog. And, right as rain, I knew there would be something special captured through his masterful eye. It makes me smile, and I hope it makes readers smile, when they look at the joy and happiness of these two sisters. It is so sweet to see how they both chose similar jewelry, full of strong pieces of stones, and wear the pieces well. Again, it does not take a psychic to see that these women are very generous with their love to one and all, and especially for one another. I am usually good about names, but I don't recall theirs. What I do remember is that the older sister is visiting from California, where she works with disabled children. Her younger sister and I talked (more like happy shrieking!) about both feeling extremely fortunate to have experienced Dharamsala, and having received a wonderful blessing from His Holiness, the Dalai Lama. We both marveled and gratefully acknowledged how we continue to feel the joy and blessing from His Holiness!

Go Venus! Go Serena! Go sisters everywhere! And, a happy birthday shout out to my sister, Wendy (July 1st)!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

A Rose's Legacy

I picked a rose from our garden last week. It was in full bloom, and had a little bud attached to it that hadn't quite bloomed. The fragrance was lovely. A few days after blooming so gloriously, I came downstairs and noticed all the petals had fallen. At first I thought our cat, Max, got up on the table and batted them off the flower. But, they seemed slightly curled, and they were probably just ready to drop on their own. However, what was once the little bud, was now a beautiful rose in full bloom. It made me think of yesterday's blog, and the legacy of our mothers, and the mothers before them. This beautiful rose had a wonderful life. Then it decided one day to drop its petals, toward compost, and then, of course to an eventual rebirth. As magic is afoot, happily for the world, she left behind room enough for her beautiful daughter to bloom and breathe fully. Yet, this bloom is attached to the other one, and thus still breathes in oxygen and nourishment from the original shared source. The source is infinite and abundant. I am still learning the ins and outs of my new digital camera, so this is my best angle for capturing an image of what I was trying to put to a story in words. Words can be as pretty as a rose in full bloom, but only if conveyed in their genuine truth. Otherwise, I prefer the beauty and simplicity of a rose to speak its volumes.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Essential Love

" Beloved, you are my sister, you are my daughter, you are my face; you are me." ~Toni Morrison

My adorable friend, Herr Guido (pronounced "ghee-dough"), the talented portrait photographer, was showing me some more of his work. As often happens when I am hit by something of a profound personal nature, I immediately gravitated to one image in particular. Guido had taken a picture of a mother and daughter. Of course, the first thing I thought of was how much I missed my Mom. Then, I smiled, breathed deeply, and took in the beauty of the portrait of two generations of women, mother and daughter. With their heads together, one can see the seamless continuum between the two, a fiercely powerful bond. I know from my healing work, and from the connection with my mother, that that bond never gets broken. While we may feel disconnected at times, that is merely a temporal reaction, because that bond is a constant. The bond is comprised of unconditional love, joy, and compassion. One of the laws of energy is the mother/child bond, which is one of the purest energies, and one that gets passed on from generation to generation. It doesn't take a psychic to see the palpable joy, love and compassion dancing between these two souls. Thank you for letting me post this precious portrait of the two of you, and for sharing your love.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Thought for a lazy, hot Sunday

"Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy."

Thich Nhat Hanh

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Peace is Every Step

My dear friend and hiking partner, Reverend Martha, lent me Thich Nhat Hanh's book - Peace is Every Step - The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life. As a monk and spiritual leader, Nhat Hanh's writing is simple and powerful. His message is about taking time to breathe and to not lose touch with being in the moment. When we get in touch with ourselves and our ability to breathe in joy, we find peace, whether in a crowd, or in solitude. Not wanting to reinvent the prayer wheel, here is the eloquent foreword for this lovely morsel of a book, by His Holiness, the Dalai Lama. I hope he doesn't mind!

"Although attempting to bring about world peace through the internal transformation of individuals is difficult, it is the only way. Wherever I go, I express this, and I am encouraged that people from many different walks of life receive it well. Peace must first be developed within an individual. And I believe that love, compassion, and altruism are the fundamental basis for peace. Once these qualities are developed within an individual, he or she is then able to create an atmosphere of peace and harmony. This atmosphere can be expanded and extended from the individual to his family, from the family to the community and eventually to the whole world.

Peace is Every Step is a guidebook for a journey in exactly this direction. Thich Nhat Hanh begins by teaching mindfulness of breathing and awareness of the small acts of our daily lives, then shows us how to use the benefits of mindfulness and concentration to transform and heal difficult psychological states. Finally he shows us the connection between personal, inner peace and peace on Earth. This is a very worthwhile book. It can change individual lives and the life of our society."

Speaking of an atmosphere of peace and harmony, this is a photo of yesterday's hike. As Martha said, walking among such beauty, is truly an "edenic" experience. She was spot on...

Friday, June 20, 2008

The Solstice has arrived...

...and Mercury starts its direct path. With their foliage in full bloom, the trees in our neighborhood are looking gorgeous. This picture is Solace's tree in her grandparent's backyard. If you allow yourself to be in the right state of openness, you can see a loving face in every tree. This one is just a little more apparent for those who are just starting out and realizing how much we learn and are loved from trees. Some say the origin of the word, wisdom, is derived from wood. Odin, the Norse King, sacrificed one of his eyes to learn the knowledge from the Tree of Life. Buddha found enlightenment while sitting under the Bodhi tree. Take time today to notice the trees around you. Breathe in their loveliness and smile to yourself, knowing your day will be blessed.

"I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.
A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the earth's sweet flowing breast;
A tree that looks at God all day
And lifts her leafy arms to pray;
A tree that may in Summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair;
Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
Who intimately lives with rain.
Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree."
~ Joyce Kilmer, "Trees," 1914 ~

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Happy Awakenings

Tomorrow Mercury finally goes direct. It seems as if this has been a long three weeks for this particular retrograde. Retrograde cycles occur three times throughout the year (varying times every year), and are a great time to go within and do some good introspective work. Mercury helps "facilitate" that downtime by messing with all things that have to do with communication. Given that this cycle also happens to fall during the sign of Gemini (May 21st thru June 21st), which happens to be ruled by Mercury, all things dealing with communication are affected that much more acutely. This includes occurrences such as computers blowing up, cell phones being dropped in toilets, flights being canceled, or conversations that don't quite connect, resulting in confusion and misunderstandings. Given this hubbub, Sadie decided to take this time to catch up on sleeping. Smart dog.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Two Souls, One Heart

Today is Father's Day. This is the first time I won't be able to call my Dad, well, at least on the phone. He and my mom had fifty three years together. They were soul mates, and a very sweet and gracious couple. I think all soul mate combinations have the potential to make for sweet couples. When one has found his or her soul mate, by the very nature of the laws of attraction and energy, the dynamic is such that both feed from, and into, the same heart. Two souls beating as one. This is why one hears two distinct sounds with each heartbeat. Each brings his or her own fullest sound that he or she can possibly emanate. Each is only as powerful as the other partner, and each needs to tend the other, as one would a garden. Thus, it behooves a person to give his or her partner as much love and respect so that each may bloom as powerfully, capably, and joyfully as possible. Anything less then fully recognizing the genuine self of the other keeps both down. I took this picture today, as it looks like two joyful souls coming together and sharing the same heart. Curly bamboo is magical. It grows slowly, yet gets more beautiful over time, with each curl representing life lived in a seamlessly choreographed duet. Happy Father's Day Lenny. I know, on a timeless dimension, you and Mom are working on the New York Times crossword puzzle and circling the TV schedule to decide what you are going to watch tonight after "Sixty Minutes."