Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The Winter Solstice

I want to take this opportunity to send each and every one of you best wishes for the Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year, and therefore the longest night in the Western world. 
Perennially, winter is the time of year that our homes are strewn with strands of glittering lights, candles, tinsel and evergreen branches or trees.
This cheery tradition originates in a time lost through the ages.
Light and darkness ultimately represent the cycle of life and death. All things in nature have a rest period, a dormancy, sleep, rest, a 'death', so that the circle of life remains unbroken.
On the night of the Winter Solstice, December 21st, we light our candles as a reminder of the presence of light even in darkness.

Yule Candles
May you have a festive Yule, a Happy Hanukkah, a Merry Christmas, joyous Holidays and a winter season filled with the warmth of love, the wisdom of truth and life-affirming beauty.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Happy Birthday, Keith Richards!

....and Happy Anniversary! 

Patti Hansen and Keith Richards
Thank you, Keith, for making the most of a thoroughly misspent youth (except the boy scouts).
Congratulations on pulling off many seemingly impossible feats.
We love you.
Tell Patti that we love her too!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

In Honor of my Dad and Pearl Harbor

 Or, how I came to be born in southern Indiana .....

The P-47

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Attitude Adjustment

When my alarm sounded yesterday, I was greeted by a drizzly, bleak Monday. 
My very first thought of the day was "ugh", which was immediately followed by a mental 'to do' list that made me not want to get out of bed.
As cranky, wrong-minded thinking took over my mind, I was reminded that at the precise moment of my alarm's sounding, a woman I know was making her way to chemotherapy.

I closed my eyes and imagined that I was facing Stage IV cancer, radiation, chemotherapy and all of the attendant suffering.
My small, unnecessary grumblings became miniscule trifles in an instant.
May I continue to be mindful of others. 
May I know compassion. 
May I always hold gratitude in my heart.
May I never take for granted the embarrassment of riches and blessings that have literally fallen into my lap. 
May I always be of service to others.
Thank YOU for reading.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Is Twitch and Grind the New Twist and Shout?

I had a true Epiphany the other day! Well, make that one partial Epiphany ... after days of waking up with a miserable pounding in my head, sore jaws and teeth, I reached for the phone. I was about to place a call to my wonderful, incredible dentist for a prescription of muscle relaxers, when - light bulb moment - I realized that I make this very same call, at the very same time, every single year.

Image Courtesy of Wikipedia
The nocturnal teeth clenching and grinding occur every year at the start of the holiday season. Which, I might add, begins earlier and earlier....ggggrrrrrrrr
Retailers trot out the Christmas stock displays the day after Halloween.
I am so over "Black Friday" and "Cyber Monday" and all of the commercialism that has ruined my true enjoyment of a pleasant annual wrap-up.
Most of us have so much "stuff" that we do not even know how to begin to feel true gratitude.
Take Thanksgiving: the mainstream American stuffs their body more than the gigantic turkey that weighs the dining table down to a groaning board. Then, "the day after" - or now, the "night of" Thanksgiving, people rush around like lunatics buying junk they simply do not need.
No wonder I clench my teeth!
This year, my classic bruxism was accompanied by the great eye twitch which went on and on for over 4 weeks. Folks, that is darned near a record for me - and I am no stranger to "the twitch".
I do not know why the holiday season brings out so much anxiety in me. Perhaps it is an internal command to be Happy! Be in love! Have lots of Stuff! 
I do not know. 
I do know that I do not like to be forced into doing anything. 
The beautiful holidays of my childhood have collapsed into heaps of stuff and debt ... gifts seem to be bought not out of love, but necessity or duty or force or guilt.
Hmm .... now I may be getting somewhere. Guilt, eh? 
Well, after all, I was raised Catholic!
Twitch. Clench. Grind.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Fall Back! Time is Money

When I was in high school, the proprietor of the bookstore, Brother Eugene, prominently displayed a clock inscribed with these words: "TIME IS MONEY".
Brother Eugene taught me many things, not least of which was the lesson of "TIME IS MONEY". He also taught me the extremely important life skills of how to organize and prioritize my time.
Gentle Reader, this life is s-h-o-r-t. I have been acutely aware of this fact as long as my memory.
I entered a profession where my value was billed by the MINUTE. This billing practice simply added to my respect of time. 
It prompted me to wonder why many artists do not price their time when it comes to selling their work.
I have learned that TIME IS MONEY should really be written:
Any person who has suffered loss can attest to this truth, be it loss of a loved one, loss of youth, loss of health, loss of money, loss of practically anything. Physical loss may be felt more acutely later in life when one realizes that death is closer than birth.
Given that our time in this life is limited, why is it then, that no person is immune to the luxury of wasting time with anger, regret, fear, depression, envy ______________ fill in the blank? 
I console myself with the fact that at least I have become aware my own wasteful foolishness. I took time for granted and it taught me an unforgettable lesson.
I have a lifelong friend who is suffering from ALS, or Lou Gehrig's disease. ALS is a disabling condition that no amount of money can remedy, cure, fix, resolve or ease. Bedridden for about two years now, my dear friend is positive and optimistic, despite his non-ambulatory condition and attendant suffering.
What is time like for him?
A clue can be had by the parting words that he spoke to me at the end of our last visit:
"There is never enough time"
Truer words were never spoken.

 Image courtesy of Wikipedia

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Farewell, R.E.M.

August 21, 2011, R.E.M. announced that after 31 years of working as a band, they were calling it a day.
For me personally, I read this news with mixed emotions. After 31 years, these guys deserve to move on, so to speak.
You see, R.E.M. was the very best of the 1980s for me. From seeing them at Six Flags (yes!) to the Fox Theater to a huge Arena, I have followed their work with much interest.
I have LPs, cassette tapes, CDs, DVDs, - you name it. I have everything R.E.M.
Intelligent, thoughtful, artistic, well-versed on social commentary and not afraid to comment through their music, I have nothing but the utmost respect for each member of this band.
R.E.M. took on George W. Bush, women's rights, environmental issues, or in their words, "abject horror".
They put into music and words what I felt but could not express. Bless them.
Perhaps, R.E.M. stands for "the dream". The dream that four 19 year old kids can change the world with music. I just realized that R.E.M.'s choice of name was perhaps more complex than I initially thought - until now.
I hope that dream never dies for every person who is touched by music.
I leave you with one of my personal favorites, a song called "Bittersweet Me", it perfectly sums up the way I feel most of these days.

R.E.M. - thank you making a difference in my world!

Video Courtesy of REMhq

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Song for my Father

Today would be my Father's birthday.
I miss him. 
My Father passed from, as my Irish family calls it, "this veil of tears", in April of 1992. 
One rainy night in NYC, I was riding in the passenger seat of my cousin Larry's taxi and I heard what I thought was the opening of a Steely Dan (my pop culture mind) tune, "Ricky, Don't Lose That Number". My favorite cousin, parking the cab (NY style) in front of a Chinatown restaurant, informed me that it was a jazz standard.
I loved it then. 
I love it now.
I have worn out many, many copies of this fabulous piece.
So, in honor of my paternal ancestral lineage and as a small tribute to my Beloved Dad, here is Horace Silver's "Song for my Father"

Dad, the world is the better for you being in it, but not the same for your youngest since you left it.
I love you always.

Video Courtesy of YouTube

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Education, Leadership & The Intelligence of Existence.


There can be no doubt that we live in challenging times.
Personally, there seems to be challenge in every area of my life. 
I only have to watch the nightly news to sink into a black hole. 
For me, I confess that I have been apathetic since George W. Bush assumed the Office of The President of the United States. Then came 9/11.....
I have lost my faith in most, if not all institutions, my Friends. 
Every authority is now suspect to my mind.
I only have faith in myself and the *spark* in the Universe that answers my numerous prayers.........and, alas, even then, I remain a 'doubting Thomas'.

I am currently praying for a restoration of FAITH.

Video Courtesy of YouTube

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Eulogy for a Classmate.........

Rest in peace, sweet Julia. 
I regret your suffering during this lifetime.
I am especially saddened by your pain.
You were always as delicate, graceful and fleeting as a frail, yet lovely, lily of the valley.
You will be forever remembered in my mind as that young girl that I called "friend" so many years ago.

Lily of the Valley

This post is dedicated to Julia Kessler, 1954-2011

Image courtesy of Wikipedia

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Stranger in a Strange Land, For What It's Worth

Increasingly, I feel like a "Stranger in a Strange Land".
The War(s)
Tea Parties
Bi-Partisan Politics
Global Warming
The Seven Deadly Sins
You Name It
... the list seems to go on forever, ad infinitum.
A world full of people who seem to be growing exponentially self-centered, greedy and downright mean.
What has happened to the collective heart of humanity?
I am sickened by the broken heart of the population.
In the current climate, if one is kind, that person is generally perceived as 'stupid'. And believe me, there are plenty of people lining up to take advantage of the poor soul who demonstrates kindness.
What happened to Love, Peace and Understanding?
I, for one, am disgusted - and I am getting very, very angry.
On a personal front, I am angry about being spoon fed lies and dishonesty by people whose authority I constantly question. 
I am angry about a few individuals stepping on a majority of people for the ultimate profit of a few.
I currently live in the state of Texas. Dallas, Texas to be exact.
I will confirm that I do not like Dallas, Texas. 
I am not heat tolerant. I am not a Southern Baptist. I am not a Republican. I do not believe that bigger is better. I am not pretentious. I do not drive an automobile that is worth more than a house.
I am indeed a "Stranger in a Strange Land".
No worries, dear Reader - I am planning my escape to a more hospitable environment.
I simply hope to live long enough to locate and inhabit that environment.
In the meantime, I sit back and watch the Governor put a law into place that mandates a physician perform and force a patient to view a sonogram of her fetus before opting for an abortion.
 I have to conform (and I do mean conform) to "rules and regulations" of two different Home Owner's Associations that have way too much power over real property. The organizations that I deal with have the ability to tell you to do anything that they please - or they have the right to put a lien on your home.
The demands of the "rules and regulations" constantly change, so the poor home owner is left with a moving target. 
Conveniently, these organizations put 'straw (wo)men' and sheeple in place to confound any questions.
I have never been able to get a straight answer.
I live in a climate of fear in my own damned house!
I am indeed very angry.
It seems that not many United States citizens understand the Constitutional Right to Privacy.
I was browsing through some old books last night and found Abbie Hoffman's Revolution for the Hell of It. No matter what those of us who are old enough to remember thought of Abbie Hoffman, I could not help but wonder what he would think of the state of the world today?
Perhaps he knew what was to come. He took his life on April 12, 1989. 
At Abbie's eulogy, Rabbi Norman Mendell reportedly said that his history of protest was 'in the Jewish prophetic tradition, which is to  
comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable'.
If everything seems like a huge, money-driven Babylon, what can one person do?
I am open to suggestions - seriously. I want to do something - anything!
I stand ready to protest.
Bring the Revolution.
Does anyone care to join their voice with mine?
I want to stand against injustice and corruption.
I want to stand up for unity, love and honesty.
What is the worst thing that can happen if I stand up to the nonsense and evil that I see? 
"They" will kill me?
To be silent is to die a million deaths.
I heard an old song today that seemed fitting: Buffalo Springfield's "For What It's Worth", written by Steve Stills in 1967.
He had the right idea.

"For What It's Worth"

There's something happening here
What it is ain't exactly clear
There's a man with a gun over there
Telling me I got to beware

I think it's time we stop, children, what's that sound
Everybody look what's going down

There's battle lines being drawn
Nobody's right if everybody's wrong
Young people speaking their minds
Getting so much resistance from behind

It's time we stop, hey, what's that sound
Everybody look what's going down

What a field-day for the heat
A thousand people in the street
Singing songs and they carrying signs
Mostly say, hooray for our side

It's time we stop, hey, what's that sound
Everybody look what's going down

Paranoia strikes deep
Into your life it will creep
It starts when you're always afraid
You step out of line, the man come and take you away

We better stop, hey, what's that sound
Everybody look what's going down
You better Stop, hey, what's that sound
Everybody look what's going down
You better Stop, now, what's that sound
Everybody look what's going down
You better Stop, children, what's that sound
Everybody look what's going down

Video courtesy of YouTube

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Summer Can be a Cruel Season

I have not always been like this. 
In my youth, the word that was most used to describe me was "vivacious".
I could not wait get out of my Mother's womb. I arrived in this world four weeks early.
I wanted to experience everything, anything, all things, everywhere!
I loathed sleeping, preferring to stay awake all night. So much to do and so little time.
Not any more. As Bob Dylan wrote, "Things Have Changed".
When life's party turned into a type of wake after experiencing multiple deaths and setbacks, I started feeling a touch of melancholy in the winter months. February being the worst of it.
To my eyes, the snow's beauty has long been snuffed out. The streets are dingy. Nature appears drab and the body is worn from the cold and ice.
In a twist, a quite different and dramatic melancholy overtook me a few weeks ago.
Where I currently live, this past May, the temperature soared to the upper 90s.  As I write this post, we are now experiencing our 30th straight day of temps over 100+ degrees. 
The weather forecast for the upcoming week predicts 110+ actual degrees.
Truthfully, all I want to do is sleep. 
Sleep. Sleep. Sleep.

I long for a day that I can stay outside past 9:45 a.m. without feeling heat exhaustion or roasted skin. 
I do not understand this depression, irritability, frustration and helplessness. If it is Seasonal Affective Disorder, this is the wrong season. There is plenty of sun. Too much, in fact.
Perhaps this is where the idea of hell originates?
It seemed to start around the time my beloved dog died from complications of heart disease and a slight heat stroke.
The same week that I found out a favorite cousin had died. 
The same week that I learned of an old friend's death of cirrhosis.
Alcohol can be a source of comfort, even joy, but alcoholism is a special evil that I do not understand fully. And cirrhosis is not a "pretty" way to die (is there such a thing?).
When I discovered another loved one's death from cirrhosis, I was horrified to learn of the terrifying decline that cirrhosis delivers so cruelly. I had no idea of the end results of the affliction.
So, I sit alone with my monkey mind. 
Still trying to figure out the meaning of life. 
Still trying to figure out the meaning of death.
I have spent more time thinking than living!
No wonder I am depressed.....and it is too damned hot to drink!
Live and love today, as there is no guarantee of tomorrow.

In Love, Truth and Beauty....

This post is dedicated to Lea, Justin, Guy and Frank.

Image Courtesy of Wikipedia

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

A Prayer for Our Companion Animals

"For Every beast of the forest is Mine and the cattle upon a thousand hills."

"I know and am acquainted with all the birds of the mountains and the wild animals of the field are Mine and are with Me and in my Mind."

"Then the Lord showed me that Man is the custodian and caretaker of His animals while they are on the earth.........

........then they return unto Him."

Psalms 50:10-11

In Loving Memory of
Lea Lai Dai 1995-2011

The foregoing psalms were sent to me by Dr. Gloria Dodd, DVM, a kind and beautiful soul.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

The First Time I Saw an Angel

My family was fortunate to have an acre of land to roam around, so my siblings and pets had plenty of room. It seemed the best of both worlds - a beautiful house, built from field stone that originated at the Abbey of St. Meinrad, plunked on this pastoral acreage amidst a city of about 160,000.

When I was in the 3rd grade, I had a German Shepherd pup named Wolf. One night, in the middle of a deep sleep (I was 8 - no insomnia at that age, instead I had somnambulism), I woke up to see a filmy white figure standing at the foot of my bed! The figure appeared to be male and it had 'arms' crossed in front of its chest with palm fronds instead of hands.

It communicated this message: "Some one is going to die".

I was so frightened that I dove under the covers and peeked to see if my ghostly friend was still apparent. He had vanished as quickly as he appeared.

The next morning, I told my Mom, who reasoned that it was a dream.

I insisted that it was not a dream! I saw it! It 'spoke' to me!

I dressed in my parochial uniform and went outside to be driven to school. As was my custom, I went to pet Wolfie goodbye, but he ran from me. 

Something was wrong! Wolf was foaming at the mouth and frantically running around that acreage.

I was distraught. For a Catholic kid, this warranted a visit to the parish Priest.

The Priest also pooed-pooed my vision and message.

When I returned home from school that day, my dog had died at the back of our house. Poor animal suffered a horrific death from strychnine poisoning.

For many years, I did not tell anyone about my visitation. I was so scared that the visitations ceased. Later in life, they returned in various forms....and they are always a warning of impending death.

Why me?

Azrael, the Angel of Death
Image Courtesy of Wikipedia

Sunday, April 3, 2011


I am the kind of person who has stacks of books stashed all around the house, particularly the bed. I like to read many different books at one time and I jump from one to the other depending on my mood. *wink*

I have only two rules: 1). I only read non-fiction and, 2). I donate each book upon completion unless it is a must-have, reference manual.

Currently, I have about 14 books in rotation (shameful!), but there is one that I simply could not put down until I read it cover to cover: Dandelion by Catherine James.

Dandelion  is a memoir of the 1960s and 70s. That pioneering time that Ms. James certainly lived and experienced to the fullest, mainly due to amazing serendipity!

 From Catherine James official Website: www.cate11.com/
From Hollywood to Greenwich Village to England to Connecticut and back to California, this story is packed with first hand accounts of a person who knew (and was romanced by) many of the legends: Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page, Jackson Browne, Mick Jagger, Jimi Hendrix, Roger Daltrey, Denny Laine .... the list goes on and on.

I loved the juicy tidbits, but Ms. James (not unlike Patti Boyd), to her considerable credit, never stoops to the dark underbelly of "kiss and tell" in a sordid, blaming way. That is an art that few authors manage when writing a memoir. This lady (again, like Patti Boyd), tells her story and always adheres to the high road, while managing to transport the reader back to a time when the world seemed, well, sweeter.

I was saddened and a bit horrified by the author's abusive childhood (shudder). What that child endured!

The book shines with the aftermath of this woman's pioneering courage and, yes, FREE SPIRIT.

Catherine James absolutely inspired me with her practical sense, her unwavering faith in the goodness of the Universe and her unfaltering courage.

My final impression upon completion of Dandelion  was that our perceived limitations are
blessings in disguise.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Ponderings on Jimi Hendrix and a Theory of Relativity

A friend reminded me today that tomorrow is April 1! April 1, 2011! 
Are you kidding me? How did THAT happen?
The Theory of Relativity was always easy for me to grasp, but the perception of time itself eludes me. Lately, time has been whizzing by - or so it seems. What a strange phenomenon. In this life: one day you are a youth, full of hope, anxious to turn another year older. Very shortly it seems that you have grown old, and with your years have come a relative diminution. 
"Regrets? I've had a few"....
Speaking of relativity, as a person gains experience and wisdom with those years, it would make sense that society would respect age and all the things that come with it. 
Instead, like all the electronic gadgets we rely on now, it appears that "planned obsolescence" is the lay of the land. 
Obsolescence = SO LESS SENSE.
It seems that I was happier in my youth. Ignorance can most assuredly be an odd bliss, Folks.
I was self-absorbed and extremely focused on what I wanted to achieve in life. 
As long as I thought only of myself, it seems that I was happy! 
What does this tell me? 
I do not have a clue. 
Should I be a hermit? 
Live in isolation? 
Pet my cats and take a vow of silence?
In youth, I was living in my own personal "Room Full of Mirrors". Thank you, Jimi Hendrix.  
"All I could see was me."

I now look at a world that I no longer recognize. 
How self-centered and immature can adults be? Most of the people I observe do indeed live in that "Room Full of Mirrors".  Humanity needs to remember that WE ARE ONE. Derision and division is the enemy.
How long must these wars continue? 
How long must people and, indeed, all creatures, suffer? 
And, perhaps most importantly, WHY?
Apologies for the maudlin sound of this post, Gentle Reader, but I still seek and absorb much information. 
The problem is that I no longer see the point to most of it.
As The Divine Prince instructs, God does not disappoint, Man does.
What happened to "All You Need Is Love"?
In Love, Truth and Beauty...

Sunday, March 6, 2011

A Rose Bloomed in Winter

I had every intention to write this post a few months ago, but life had other things calling for my attention. I now see a few signs that Spring is certainly going to arrive, but in the midst of the bleak gray that is Winter, my mood was as gloomy as the partly cloudy sky.

Precisely, it was New Year's Day, January 1, 2011. While contemplating the mid-winter depression that I was dancing with, I decided to clean up some of the yard's debris. Anyone who has experienced the dinge of Winter's leavings, can call to mind what it looks and feels like. Nearly all of the plants, tress and shrubs are dormant, leaves and fir needles piled in the unkempt beds that at one time burst with color. The patina is sooty, after the novelty of the first snow has worn away, leaving visible decay.

In short, not an uplifting experience or sight.

I almost missed it.

I had been sweeping the brick patio towards the oft-neglected back of the house when I saw it. I took three steps away, turned around and looked carefully. I swear to you, that I as soon as I acknowledged it, the sun burst through that overcast sky!

There was one, perfect, beautiful red rose standing straight and tall, gleaming in the winter's waning light. Such an exquisite tender rose, showing the glow of blues, pinks, oranges and fiery red all at the same time!

Mimi's Red Rose in Winter
The Universe acts in mysterious ways, Dear Reader.

I was so taken aback by this gorgeous, stately, regal rose! The rose somehow managed to bloom and thrive during one of the worst winters in history. While everything around it lay dormant and encased in ice, this beauty elegantly reached for the sky.

I had long before given up on this particular rose. It showed a miserly bloom in late spring of 2010, only to wither and appear to be dead.

I wrote a status update on Facebook as to what I found in my garden that New Year's Day. I received a response that made my heart sing!

It seems that my childhood friends, the McDonald girls, sadly,  had lost their precious Mother, Margaret, just around the time my lone red rose decided to demand my attention on that dreary day in solid winter.

Apparently, Mrs. McDonald (which is how I always referred to her) had confided shortly before her passing that if there was an 'afterlife', that she would return as a red rose.

Mimi's Red Rose in Winter
My innocent post about finding that solitary rose uplifted people!

Margaret McDonald, whom I met while I was attending the second grade, was an extraordinary woman. She was a positive, encouraging force of nature. Words fail me as I attempt to describe her in the confined context of this writing.

I admired her.

Mrs. McDonald was a lot like that strong red rose - thriving under adverse circumstances, beautiful, quiet, yet commanding by example, diminutive, but elegant in her reach. A positive and contemporary thinker, Mrs. McDonald possessed solid knowledge and life experience, but seemed never dissuaded when the world appeared to be in chaos.

To the contrary, Mrs. McDonald was always optimistic. Her optimism was infectious and had a profound effect this on the young girl that I once was.

Margaret McDonald was a beacon for all of us who had the privilege of knowing her. We were better in her presence. We were better people for knowing her. The world was a brighter place because of her radiance.

Like the beautiful rose, Mrs. McDonald reflected upon us her glow, strength and beauty. She lifted us up.

Mimi's Red Rose in Winter
We must share the ordinary beauty that we find along our life paths. That ordinary beauty may just be an extraordinary miracle that changes everything.

Afternote: Margaret "Mimi" McDonald's rose is still blooming, commanding the very attention of the sun in my back yard.

This Post is Dedicated to Margaret McDonald 
Written with the kind permission of the McDonald Family.

With so much Love, Truth and Beauty........

Friday, February 25, 2011

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Beware the Spiritual Path

I have been compelled to write this post for a very long time. After a long period of hesitation, contemplation and finally, victimization, I am acting. 

Here is a warning: this post may evoke strong feelings and may be considered controversial by certain individuals. 

A little background music, please. 

I grew up with extended family members that were not of the same faith. My immediate family was ridiculed for our chosen religion. We were a minority. My first exposure to organized religion was one of bitter righteousness. Clarification: the profession of righteousness while acting in a manner that was, to my mind, directly opposed to any of their righteous religious tenets.

If, at this point, you do not understand what I am writing about, let me throw this out there 

"Judge not, lest thee be judged"

Now, I hear judgments ALL THE TIME from the religious types. And if you don't hear them, you are not listening, which may be a positive thing. The above is a loose quotation from THE BIBLE that the righteous religious ones thump on. Seems that it only applies to other people, not them.

What is the answer or the antidote to the negative aspects of organized religion?

It is the now famous answer, "I am on a Spiritual Path".

I do not know about you, but I have suffered more at the hands of these "spiritual" people than the right-wing religious radicals.

There. I said it. It is out there.

How about His Holiness, The Dalai Lama's brilliant quote, "My religion is kindness"? True for him. Not so true for many of the people that I have encountered in the past year who like to mouth it. Problem is just that - they talk it, they do not walk it.

True Story: I made a silly, meant-to-be humorous jab at a life-long 'friend' of mine on the Devil's workshop, Facebook, after a woman who I do not know interjected a comment in a conversation that three old friends were having. Well.....apparently, my absolutely stupid comment led to a prosecution, a conviction and a lifelong sentence of penitence.

The 'mystery woman' started private messaging me with all kinds of judgments, hateful insults, psychoanalysis of me and bile. She was so domineering that I deferred to her. Sensing a potential problem and volatile situation, I did not want to hurt 'my friend', so I just "took" it and offered no defense or rebuttal.

The uninvited messages continued, fueled with arrogance and anger, delightedly humiliating me.

This particular woman proclaims to be a Buddhist. Okay. ACT LIKE ONE. And guess what? Her "religion is kindness".  

She certainly was not kind to me!

Am I not a sentient being?

My cherished, life-long friend, with whom I was in nearly daily contact, eventually dropped me as a 'friend'. My friend is also on a 'spiritual path'. I wonder where that path starts? Where does it go? Where does it end? 

How about being kind, conscious and spiritual in PRESENT (REAL) TIME? Wow. There is a concept!

How about interacting with other human beings? Therein lies the true test in life. Can you truly evolve as a spiritual being in a cloistered environment or running off to an ashram in India? 

Word! Life is hard because human beings disappoint and hurt each other. Being a hermit will not hasten your spiritual evolution.

I called 'my friend' last week to inquire about his well-being and to ask him what was wrong between us.

He did not answer the phone, but immediately replied by email in such a hateful, hurtful, rage that I literally vomited in my sink.

And I am clue-LESS as to what is wrong. My stupid comment on Facebook was not bad, nor ill-intentioned, or even contrived. It was silly. I mean, seriously, what in the heck is going on?

I am no saint, but I am imperfect (gasp!) and it greatly disturbs me to think that I have hurt anyone or anything.

I wish that I knew of my transgression(s) so that I could learn, evolve and get through my own life as best as I can.

What has transpired causes me much pain. I love my lost friend. Perhaps it was an illusion. I believed him to be the kind, gentle soul that I knew so very long ago. Perhaps he was under the illusion that I am the same, self-absorbed, thoughtless kid that I used to be.

I live in one of the most Bible-thumping, self-righteous, right wing places in the United States. Frankly, I now believe that I would rather deal with the religious types than the spiritual path types. 

...and I cannot believe that I actually FEEL this way!

Do you think that I am pronouncing judgment? Aaarrrgggghhhh!! I am so very weary of self-examination!

At least the radical religious extremists are honest in the portrayal of their standards. No pretense. Period.

If you want respect, TO THINE OWN SELF BE TRUE.

If your religion is KINDNESS, BE KIND.


In Love, Truth and Beauty.........

This post is dedicated to Anonymous

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Two New Soaps Listed

Dragon's Blood Resin

Spicy Lime Ginger

Both of these recipes are well-rounded with olive, soy, coconut, castor oils, a large helping of raw, organic cocoa butter (fair trade from Ghana) and a splash of coconut milk.

Dragon's Blood Resin has Red Reef Aussie clay and red glitter on top. The scent is derived from a blend of sandalwood, amber, vanilla, myrrh and incense. To my nose, it is a powdery smell.

The Spicy Lime Ginger is more ginger than lime and is more spicy than sweet. This beauty is colored with mica and sprinkled with raw, organic sugar.

May you always walk in Love and Beauty.....

Crystal Clear

Just a short post here to show off my new, double-terminated, self-healed quartz "tabby" crystal.  The "tabby" is short for "tablet" or "notebook" and people who work with these crystals often say that they hold memories of past lives and the Akashic Records.

Supposedly, the Tabby Quartz is also excellent for divining intelligence about the future.

Self Healed Double Terminated Tabby Crystal

It is hard to miss the $10 bill that I have posed the beautiful crystal on! It helps to give you an idea of the size.

When I was studying  metalsmithing, I took some gemology courses. These courses were not geared to divination! In fact, I had no idea of what abilities and work that our gems and crystals are capable of until recently!

I knew the basics - rose quartz for love and the heart chakra. Amethyst for loyalty and sobriety. The gift shop kind of knowledge.

So, I am a novice about all of the magnificence in the above beauty - but I like what I see!

There are so many breathtaking gems and crystals! Staggering! For some reason, I have always been naturally drawn to the clear quartz.

What is your favorite stone, gem or crystal? Why?

In Love, Truth and Beauty....

Monday, February 14, 2011

Black Swan, St. Valentine's Day and Perfection

I simply had to write a post about "Black Swan", the latest love-it-or-hate-it film that has several Oscar nominations.
In short, I did not love it. 
Black Swan Promo
"Black Swan" is billed as a 'psycho-sexual thriller' or some such nonsense. I found it to be quite the opposite.
However, "Black Swan" has disturbed me, albeit not for the reasons it should have bothered me. 
It could have been a phenomenal movie. There are many underlying issues that are buried deep under the surface of "Black Swan". Not one of them was explored in depth. 
Instead, "Black Swan" careens from one tense scene to the next, glossing over potentially deep and truly dark themes in favor of popular sensationalism.
"Black Swan" revolves around Nina, our heroine ballerina, who is a technical perfectionist and quite skillful. Nina's Ballet Master, believes that Nina does not 'lose control'. Ever. Nina's inability to lose control forms the film's surface focus.
I say "surface" because we never get to see what drives Nina to be so obsessively controlled.
That exploration could have elevated "Black Swan" to heights of greatness.
Ballet's rigorous training, discipline, ego, drive, stamina, the quest for youth and the continuous pursuit of the demon that is perfection must be hellish.
As with so many demanding fields, the final product  appears effortless and exquisitely beautiful to the audience. There is no trace of the grueling, all-consuming effort that gives birth to the creation.
The ugly side of ballet might be compared to the gritty side of modeling - the obsession with physical perfection and youth. In modeling, the human being is reduced to a coat hanger or body parts. However, a dancer is an artistic athlete. Just a little pressure, eh?
I have always felt a certain empathy and sympathy for anyone whose vocation is ballet. 
For many years, I believed that my particular calling to be a metalsmith was tortuous. That is, until the reality of the world and lifestyle of  ballet was revealed to me. 
For those readers unfamiliar with ballet, I would recommend researching George Balanchine, the Russian choreographer, co-founder and Ballet Master of The New York City Ballet. There are a few biographies on Balanchine, including  two excellent ones by Robert Gottlieb and Bernard Taber.
Indeed, George Balanchine  is credited with creating modern ballet, basing it on classical forms and techniques that endure to this day.
Mission: Perfection Impossible.
Swan Lake London 2007
Therein lies the pervasive story line of "Black Swan":  the attainment of perfection, a subject very near and dear to my heart.  Hence, the byline of this blog.
As I write this post on St. Valentine's Day - which, by the way, I still believe is a real holiday that Hallmark merely exploited - I am thinking of perfection. I am thinking about love, specifically self-love.
The desire for improvement in this life can be noble.
My Father used to say that one should never occupy a place (a building, a workplace, a relationship, a neighborhood, a planet, a life, a space in time) without leaving it better for being there.
It is this standard to which I aspire.
Long ago, I was struck by the knowledge that I would never be able to make a perfect piece (metalsmithing). Now, this was a profound realization for a young artist in a demanding and competitive field. From that point forward, I decided to embrace and even emphasize imperfection in all of my work.
Several decades later, I know that unique beauty is found in imperfection.
Looking back, perhaps I have not given "Black Swan" enough credit.
Perhaps the Ballet Master was encouraging the heroine to 'let loose' in order to find that unique beauty which only shines through in imperfection.
Like most artists, I am my harshest critic.
I must love my personal and quite human imperfections for they make me unique.
That is a huge step....one that can certainly leave any space I occupy better.
Today, I begin my journey.

Black Swan
In Love, Truth and Beauty..........
Images Courtesy of Wikipedia

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Feeling Just Like This ....

300 M.P.H. Torrential Outpour Blues 
The White Stripes

I'm bringing back ghosts
That are no longer there
I'm gettin' hard on myself
Sittin' in my easy chair
Well, there's three people in the mirror
And I'm wonderin' which one of them I should choose
Well, I can't keep from laughin'
Spittin' out these 300 mile per hour outpour blues

I'm breakin' my teeth off
Tryin' to bite my lip
There's all kinds of red-headed women
That I ain't supposed to kiss
And it's that color that never fails
To turn me blue
So I just swallow it and hold on to it
And use it to scare the hell out of you

I have a woman
'Says come and watch me bleed
And I'm wonderin' just how I can do that
And still give her everything that she needs
Well, there's three people in my head that have the answer
And one of them's got to be you
But you're holding tight to it -- the answer
Singin' these three hundred mile per hour outpour blues

Put on gloves, a tied scarf and wrap up warm
On this winter night
Every time you get defensive
You're just looking for a fight
It's safe to sing somebody out there's got a problem
With almost anything you'll do
Well, next time they stab you don't fight back just play the victim
Instead of playin' the fool
And the roads are covered with a million
Little molecules
Of cigarette ashes and the school floors are covered
With pieces of pencil eraser too
Well sooner or later the ground's gonna be holdin' all
Of my ashes too
But I can't help but wonder if after I'm gone will I still have these three hundred mile per
hour, finger breaking, no answers makin', battered dirty hands, bee stung and busted up, empty
cup torrential outpour blues

One thing's for sure: in that graveyard
I'm gonna have the shiniest pair of shoes

Any one else ever feel like this?

In Love, Truth and Beauty ....

Monday, January 17, 2011

Reflecting on Then and Now

MLK and Malcolm X ca 1964
Pondering what each of these brilliant visionaries would have to say on current times.
Both of these inspiring leaders knew how to move FORWARD.
Have we kept up? 

Image Courtesy of Wikipedia
In Love, Truth and Beauty......

A Change Is Gonna Come

Martin Luther King, Jr. on Love and Hate

"I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear." 
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Photo by Howard Sochurek for LIFE Magazine
 In Love, Truth and Beauty.....

Friday, January 7, 2011

Winged Creatures, Past and Present Lives

I love all creatures, but retain a special and specific fondness for beings with wings.
I suppose that my affection for those beings with wings is as telling of my own nature as anything else in my life.
Several times, I have been amused (and a bit taken aback) when others have revealed my totem or soul representative as "Raven".
Here is an excerpt of one such revelation that I found to be quite true:
"This is a very interesting path for a being. The most important thing to remember about a person's life when they are under the Raven's wing is that you have been here before, you know all about this stuff and what you do not know you are about to find out. There is really nothing too surprising or amazing to a Raven person. New things? Sure, but as they have been witness to so many massive shifts over the myriad of lifetimes required to lead a Raven life, there are no real surprises. The danger for a Raven soul is landing in an area where there are no other Ravens and no real competition. A Raven needs powerful reflection and only another Raven can do that for them. Only another Raven is capable of understanding a Raven. An old soul does not protect a person from falling into a too comfortable trap and growing lazy. Laziness is deadly for a Raven. A Raven needs the power of their wings to carry their great bodies high above the world to gain perspective needed to fulfill their ultimate earth destiny. Each Raven has a particular mission to complete their earth cycle. Find out what it is, Raven. You may be comfortable and unshaken, but are you alert and fulfilling your vision?"
I am wondering about the Biblical comfort that the creator knows the exact moment each sparrow falls.
I find the recent news of birds falling from the sky and dead fish washing ashore particularly distressing. Am I the only Raven paying attention?

We must learn that we are the caretakers of this planet. I fear our time may soon be up. When birds fall from the sky and fish die in massive amounts, should we not pay attention to how we are treating the elements and creatures that support our own lives?
Where are my Ravens?
In Love, Truth and Beauty......
Dedicated to Birkan Tore