Friday, March 29, 2013

My Last Days: Meet Ryan Woods

From Soul Pancake; thank you and namaste.

Ryan Woods was diagnosed with Glioblastoma and told he had 1-4 months to live. Ryan Woods passed away on Nov. 7, 2012.
Learn about his story, meet his family, and find out about his goals to help build a loving community. You can get involved, by uploading a video response to this video or emailing to:

A Moment Just Like This.

"Eventually you will come to understand that love heals everything, and love is all there is." - Gary Zukay

I watched a little boy today, as he held the hand of his baby sister.

Every few steps, he would pause for a moment, pull her hand in just a little closer, and 'whisper' loudly something into her ear.

And each time, the little girl would turn back her brother and share the most delightful of giggles in return.

Not ever wanting to miss out on these most amazing 'momentary gifts'—and quite possible because curiosity simply got the better of me—I carefully made my way closer and up through the aisle, and just until I was able to hear what he was saying.

And, as I reached for a box on the highest of shelves, I finally heard what it was that he was saying,

"I'm the big brother, and my job is to protect you. And your job is to just love me back."

It was by far, one of the sweetest ways to end an otherwise somewhat challenging week—a reminder that love is all the matters.

"We love: that's why life is full of so many wonderful gifts." —Rumi

*namaste* to my most beautiful facebook friends ~ I wish you all of the love and peace this Universe has to offer...and also, I wish for you a moment *just like this*.

Vegan "Cadbury" Eggs.

Yummy, let me know how these turn out!


1/2 cup corn syrup or agave nectar
1/4 cup Earth Balance
3 cups vegan powdered sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp salt 
yellow and red food coloring
semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 tbsp coconut oil

1. Cream together the corn syrup or agave nectar and the 1/4 cup of Earth Balance 'butter.'

2. Add the powdered sugar, slowly, making sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl to incorporate all of the sugar.

3. Blend in your vanilla and salt (do not omit, my salt-sensitive friends).

At this point, the texture of your mix should be somewhere between a batter and a dough. Separate into two plastic containers, adding a few drops of yellow and one drop of red food color to one. Cover with plastic wrap, and place in your freezer for just about 20 minutes. Once your batter has firmed up just a bit, you'll be able to begin forming your 'eggs.'

For the eggs, you'll want to use a muffin tin. In each of the cups, place one larger scoop (about a tablespoon size) of the white mixture in the bottom of the cup, topped with a smaller scoop (a teaspoon if fine) of the yellow mixture on top. Cover this with plastic wrap, and place back into the freezer—this time, for about 30 minutes.

While the eggs are in the freezer, you can begin to melt your chocolate chips with the coconut oil either in a double boiler on top of your stove—or you can 'cheat' and pop them into the microwave at 10 second intervals (make sure to mix in between intervals).

From here, you'll want to lay out a cookie sheet or other large tray, and cover with waxed paper so your eggs will not stick. When the dough is firm, you'll need to remove from the freezer—quickly rolling them into an 'egg' shape, before dipping them finally into your melted chocolate mixture. 

Make sure your chocolate coating is thick enough, lest any of the egg-goo escape!


Wednesday, March 27, 2013

With Liberty and Justice for All—Is Lady Justice Really Blind?

justice “In determining the meaning of any Act of Congress, or of any ruling, regulation, or interpretation of the various administrative bureaus and agencies of the United States, the word ‘marriage’ means only a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife, and the word ‘spouse’ refers only to a person of the opposite sex who is a husband or a wife.” – The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) (Pub.L. 104–199, Section 3)

Today marks day two of what has the potential to become one of history’s most momentous US Supreme Court Cases. Today, 8 Supreme Court Justices will hear arguments as to the constitutionality of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act—a law which defined marriage as a legal union between one man and one woman, and in doing so restricted the constitutional and civil rights of same sex partnerships throughout the United States.

The arguments will be heard at the US Supreme Court building in Washington DC. For those who are unfamiliar with this, and many of the other historic buildings throughout Washington DC, their design is always intended to be thought provoking—to capture the essence and intent of the forefathers and founders of this great Nation.

With respect to the US Supreme Court building, this symbolism is deeply embedded.

I remember touring Washington DC as a young child—walking around a city that seemed to be a snapshot in time; whose marble buildings towered above me as passerbys from all around the world stopped in awe and careful reflection.

As I walked the steps leading to this building, I stopped to admire a magnificent marble statue, “The Contemplation of Justice” by sculptor James Earle Fraser. I let my eyes carefully scan each and every brilliant detail, taking in the story that this artist worked so hard to convey.

When asked, Fraser described his interpretation of Justice as,
“a realistic conception of what I consider a heroic type of person with a head and body expressive of the beauty and intelligence of justice.”
In this statue, her left hand rests upon a book of laws, and in her right…she holds firmly a smaller figure of the blindfolded Justice.

Fraser had intended that all those who might gaze upon his work, and pause, just as I had at 12 years old, to contemplate the true meaning of ‘and justice for all.”
“Why is she blindfolded?” I asked of our guide.
He smiled and said simply,
“Because, under the eyes of the law—everyone is equal. And lady Justice stands here, to remind us always that justice belongs to all.”
I can’t help but to think back on that moment, as this sense of pride swelled in my heart. As a child, I was always the outsider looking in, never quite fitting with the other groups of children. I always felt a bit of an outcast. But, as I stood there looking up at Lady Justice, I remember feeling for the first time that I  really ‘belong.’

And, as I sit here this morning looking over the news and getting ready for yet another day filled with appointments—I am struck with this same sentiment that is at times, overwhelming.

You know, I have always, and shall forever feel, that if two people on this great big planet are, in spite of all of life’s challenges and upsets, still able to find that one person who brings to their life… joy, loving-kindness, understanding, and compassion… that this is a most beautiful thing.

And, how beautiful is it that out of all of the millions of possible people-interactions, that fate has found a way to bring these two lives together.For some, these headlines are simply background noise in an already busy day—but I feel they represent something much, much greater…that all are viewed equally under our laws.

Isn’t that the true heart and core of this great Nation? I know some of you are probably too young to remember, but there was a time when our school days began with a pledge to our flag,
“I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”
With liberty and justice for all—how those words are forever engrained in my heart. It’s what I desire most, that the principles upon which this nation was founded—the true essence of democracy—is not ever lost in the ‘knee jerk reactions’ of those things that might make some feel uncomfortable.

We are all equal, and to find love—is one of the most magnificent gifts of all. And, as you sift through these headlines just as I did today—remember, that much bigger picture of Lady Justice who presides over us all.

Irrespective of all of our political, religious, and/or spiritual ‘leanings’—justice must always be maintained.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Quote of the Day: You Are the Dancer and the Creator of Your Dreams.


“The journey in between what you once were and who you are now becoming is where the dance of life really takes place.” – Barbara DeAngelis

This journey of life, can often be so very uncertain and so completely unpredictable—it can leave us feeling raw, open, and exposed…and vulnerable beyond any and all reasonable expectations.

But, so long as our hearts may smile and our spirits might dance—we shall always find the bliss and the happiness.

To quote Albert Einstein,

“We dance for laughter, we dance for tears, we dance for madness, we dance for fears, we dance for hopes, we dance for screams, we are the dancers, we create the dreams.”

So, today…just simply dance—and for all of those reasons above.

Because, you are the dancer and the creator of all of your dreams.

The Purpose of Life.

Some brilliant words on life and living; and all that great stuff in between. For what it's worth, I intend to be that one single spark who's energy might light up this world.


“I would rather be ashes than dust!

I would rather that my spark should burn out in a brilliant blaze than it should be stifled by dry-rot.

I would rather be a superb meteor, every atom of me in magnificent glow, than a sleepy and permanent planet.

The function of man is to live, not to exist.

I shall not waste my days trying to prolong them.

I shall use my time.”

~Jack London

The Tree Spirits of St. Simons Island (Breathtaking)

Tree Spirit, Wizard.
Tree Spirit, Wizard.

“Once there was a tree, and she loved a little boy…she loved a boy very, very much—even more than she loved herself.” ~ Shel Silverstein, The Giving Tree

I’ve always felt that my trees have a ‘life’ energy beyond what this earth shares with them.

Perhaps, this is the result of my little girl imagination who, when looking up at these limbs towering above always and forever feels their sweet embrace. And as I walk through, I’ll often hum a few bars of that Etta James‘ most brilliant rendition of the Gershwin classic,  “Someone to Watch Over Me”
“I’m a little lamb who’s lost in the wood.
I know I could always be good
To one who’ll watch over me”
I have to say, it’s how I feel really, at least at times. I suppose it’s my way of ‘asking’ the trees to ‘watch over me’ as  I make my way down this new and precarious life path. And, as I sing softly these few words, I am reminded that we are all, in fact, connected.

How wonderful it is to find that someone out there shares the very same view that I do—that these trees, do in fact, hold life.

The following tree spirits were created by the skillful hands of artist, Keith Jennings, and represent the faces of those sailors lost to the sea.

His hope was that their spirits may live on through the trees.

These are just a few of the Tree Spirits of St. Simons Island—and I think they are magnificent. I hope you feel the same way, too.

The Old Man in the Tree.
Tree Spirits of St. Simons Island.
Tree Spirits of St. Simons Island.
Tree Spirits
The Tree of Life.
Tree Spirit, Indian.
Tree Spirit, Indian.
For map and directions, click here.

Bonus Video, “Someone to Watch Over Me.” ~ Etta James

Twitter, explained: The Tech Industry's Most Obnoxious Tweeters. (Daily Funny)

I don't normally post these things... however, there's much snow out and in lieu of me being able to enjoy a good old fashioned snowball fight (and thus acknowledge/encourage my inner kid)...

I guess this will have to do today.. :)

Sunday, March 24, 2013

The Wonders of Life.

"Life is filled with suffering, but it is also filled with many wonders, like the blue sky, the sunshine, the eyes of a baby. To suffer is not enough. We must also be in touch with the wonders of life. They are within us all around us, everywhere, any time.

If we are not happy, if we are not peaceful, we cannot share peace and happiness with others, even those we love, those who live under the same roof. If we are peaceful, if we are happy, we can smile and blossom like a flower, and everyone in our family, our entire society, will benefit from our peace. Do we need to make a special effort to enjoy the beauty of the blue sky? Do we have to practice to be able to enjoy it? No, we just enjoy it.

What is essential Is to Be alive and present to all the wonders of life." — Thich Nhat Hanh

Enjoy a most beautiful day...get outside and breathe in the air of this life, and let passion's energy course through your veins. 

You are, my dears, afterall...unstoppable. 


Jesse’s Joy Jars: How One Little Girl Found a Way to Bring a Little More Love into this World.


“Remember there’s no such thing as a small act of kindness. Every act creates a ripple with no logical end.” ~  Scott Adams

At just 12 years old, Jesse Joy Rees, was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor. The pain she felt each day from both the illness and the subsequent treatments was nearly unbearable. And though, for some, this may have proven insufferable—in this case, young Jesse’s spirit rose above.

Jesse spent the next 10 months undergoing an experimental treatment—one that allowed her to complete the devastating chemotherapy and radiation treatments on an outpatient basis. It was following one of those treatments, and as Jesse was leaving the hospital, that she looked back and asked,

“Mom and Dad, when do all the other kids come home?”

There’s just no easy way to answer a question like that. But, her father, did his very best to try to convey—that some children will stay in hospital for many weeks, months, and sometimes years—and some, never get to come home again, at all.

When Jesse heard this, she simply asked, “Then…how can we help them?”

How often is is that we take a moment in our day to ask this very question, “How can I help?”

Sometimes, we may feel that the problem is too big and we are just too very small. But we all have within us this brilliant capacity to bring love and compassion to those who need it most of all.

And yet, our own minds—our own self doubt…crushes that thought before we have even really tried.
I think this is sometimes the saddest part of our existence—when our hearts ask us to reach out and do something good, but our minds find a way to get us to stop.

Dreams go unfulfilled, and good deeds never make their way out. How amazing this world might be, if we could only just listen and trust in our hearts. 

I am so moved by this young girl’s spirit, because, given all that she was going through in that moment—it would have been so very easy for her to focus just on herself. But instead, something truly miraculous rose up from her spirit—and rippled out to touch the lives of so many young ones.

So much good can result from one single moment, when it is that we have the faith and good sense to believe.

What started with just a handful of brightly decorated brown paper bags stuffed with Jesse’s very own toys, has now grown to a magnificent charitable organization—an organization who’s mission statement is, “Never ever give up.” And now, these small bags which have since transformed to “Jesse’s Joy Jars,” are now being shipped—free of charge—to children all over this world.

Next time you question, “What can I really do?”—just remember the story of a young girl and her jars.

I was really moved by Jesse’s loving kindness and strength of spirit; I hope that her story also resonates with you, as well.

So, never, ever give up—because, my dears, you are unstoppable in your capacity to make a difference in this world.

And, the next time you see an opportunity to help—just remember, real change…begins with you.


Saturday, March 23, 2013

Wherever You Are....Be All There.

Wherever you all there.


Around Us by Marvin Bell 

We need some pines to assuage the darkness
when it blankets the mind,
we need a silvery stream that banks as smoothly
as a plane's wing, and a worn bed of
 needles to pad the rumble that fills the mind,
and a blur or two of a wild thing
that sees and is not seen. We need these things
between appointments, after work,
and, if we keep them, then someone someday,
lying down after a walk and supper, with the fire hole wet down,
the whole night sky set at a particular
time, without numbers or hours, will cause
a little sound of thanks--a zipper or a snap--
to close round the moment and the thought
of whatever good we did.

Facebook for Buddhists? 5 Rules for Maintaining a Mindful ‘Buddha-Status.’

Living Mindfully and Beyond Our Facebook Status.

So, my Facebook page indicates that I’m a Buddhist; it’s actually now one of the standard drop down menu options.

I don’t know quite how I feel about this.

I mean, to be honest, I guess I have never really thought about it that much—until just the other night, when a new friend asked about my ‘Buddha-status.’

I don’t know why, but that just struck me as all kinds of funny.

(Sexy, purring voice) “I see by your Facebook status that you are a Buddhist.”

It just doesn’t sound right.

I mean, how can I be living a mindful, centered and bliss-filled life—while I’m out sniffing around in an electron filled cyberspace? How can I possibly connect to a series of ‘zeroes and ones’—or a smattering of code intended to brighten my day? Has my spirituality been reduced to a mere Facebook status?

This is not real life, and yet, to some…it most certainly is.

Want to completely screw with someone’s day—just take away their Facebook access, if only for just a few moments…that ‘fallout’ is unreal.

Love blooms, and relationships disintegrate in sometimes what equates to just a few simple clicks.

When did a mouse click replace sitting face to face? And why do we insist in keeping this self-imposed internet distance?

This is not real life—real life extends far beyond a quick status check.

And though, I believe social media can be used to empower and engage—it’s not without compassion and intent.

I think that’s sometimes the problem with Facebook—we often use our profiles as ‘shields.’ It’s so much easier to act and speak without regard, when you know you’re a good virtual arm’s length away.

It just seems to be such a spiritual contradiction in terms—but then again, even the Dalai Lama has his very own Facebook page.

Is it possible to ‘exist’ in this new social media world, without losing my Buddha within? I believe, perhaps—but, not without a few mindful rules in place.

Here are my “Five Rules for Maintaining a Mindful Buddha-Status:”

1. Be mindful always of your truest intention. Don’t lose yourself in the flurry of cyber-emotions—remember, so much is lost without that face-to-face context. To look someone in the eyes sometimes can tell a story that a status update or comment response can never fully express. You know your heart going into this mess—just don’t lose it in the process.

2. Listen with your fullest attention. Even if it is, at best, a virtual ear—someone is still out there sharing with you their heart. So close out a few of those dozen or so screens, and take the time to really listen. By giving them this gift of your fullest attention, you are offering them this space to be real.

3. Pause first, breathe, and then type. But more so, know when to let go. Before each post, ask yourself—what is it that I am trying to achieve? Do I want to be right? Or, do I want to be ‘seen’? It’s your own personal duty to self to make sure you get that clear before you begin.

4. You are far more than a simple Facebook status. Live fully beyond your ‘headline’—because, real life is about the experiences that you may share.

5. Connection does not equal ‘engaged.’ It’s ironic, but sadly true, ‘social media’ can sometimes detract from intimacy. When the quantity of ‘likes’ is valued more than the quality of ‘friends’—we take away from our ability to relate meaningfully. In order to really engage someone, you have to go deeper than those news feeds, funny photos and quips. To engage someone meaningfully requires that we open our hearts and communicate directly from our spirit to theirs.

After all, if we really want to make a difference in this world—we need to remember that it’s only from our heart that true change can begin.

Hilarious Bonus Video: Ellen DeGeneres, “In Your Facebook”


A Prescription for Life—Slow Down, Sit & Breathe.

“Breathe. Let go. Remind yourself that this very moment is the only one you know you have for sure.” – Oprah Winfrey

Over this past year, I have had more than just a few people ask me, “How do you do it?”
And, I’m always and inevitably left with this feeling of  wondering, “what does it really mean?”

In my own head, I’m not doing anything special save for savoring each and every delicate bite of this, my own present moment. I am simply appreciating my life. I am appreciating the gift of this life.

I suppose it becomes easier when something comes along to take your breath away; it’s in that moment that you suddenly realize just how precious that single breath is.

And so, I breathe. Long, slow, sweet beautiful breaths—I take them in as if it was both my very first, and very last.

Breathing takes on a much different meaning when it is that you can think of it like that. Every breath, becomes a gift—cherish this.

And in doing so, just watch as this world comes alive again with the fullness, excitement and vibrancy of life

It’s that life, that fills my soul with gratitude.

I am grateful to just simply breathe.
“Instead of chasing happiness like a hamster on a wheel, I say slow down. Sit. There is nothing you need to buy, and there is nowhere you need to go. Just a few minutes each day of taking inventory of everything in your life worth appreciating, is the first step we can take to guiding the next generation away from this growing sense of entitlement, and toward a deeper appreciation for life itself.” ~ Timber Hawkeye
In the following video, Timber Hawkeye author and founder of the Buddhist Boot Camp, provides his most brilliant insight on living a more meaningful and mindful life. And his simple prescription is ‘be grateful.’

And as we all know in this world and in this life—gratitude…changes everything.

Video: Timber Hawkeye, Author, Buddhist Boot Camp


Wednesday, March 20, 2013

I'm going to prison.

Most of you who follow me regularly, know I have faced a few challenges this year. And, as with any challenge that faces us in life ~ it sometimes causes us to pause, to think, to reflect...and hopefully, to act.

And, I have been thinking... quite a lot. Often, my mind wanders to this most magnificent universe - that has provided me such love, and care... and many awe inspiring moments in my life. I'm reminded of a quote by one of my most favorite poets, Hafiz - "Even after all this time, the Sun never says to the Earth 'You owe me'... Look what happens with a love like that, it lights up the whole world."

I want to light up the whole world, too. I want to love it in such a way, that the best part of my spirit will remain... long after I am gone. I want to make a difference, if even for just one person's heart. I want them to feel the same love the Sun feels for this Earth. What better way to make a difference in this world?

So, I have decided that I will be taking on a new endeavor ~ to bring mindfulness and healing to the Maryland Department of Corrections. I know what you're probably thinking... "Tara, they will eat you alive." But, I'm not afraid of what might happen...rather, I'm more interested in that one person who's heart I might help.

So, why help those who have willingly inflicted so much pain? Who have destroyed lives in a simple split second decision.

I don't know how best to answer this, suffice to say - but, I am reminded of a story, told by Tara Brach in which, a young mother lost her only son. He was the victim of a gang initiation - a 14 year old boy shot and killed him. Just like that - just because.

It was a horrible senseless act.

Because of his age, the boy was sentenced to a juvenile detention center - for just two years.

As the sentence was read, the Mother stood up and then fell to her knees - she looked straight at that young boy and growled, "I will kill you someday."

She had so much hate in her heart; and her spirit was empty at the loss of her child.

But, she realized something - hate wouldn't ever bring her son back from the grave.

So she started visiting the young boy in prison, initially to understand. Though, in time she realized - she was the only one visiting the boy. When she realized he had nothing, and he had never known love - her view of this boy changed. She realized he needed her - more.

As the day of his release approached, the Mother helped to find him a job with a relative. And when she learned he had no place to stay, she opened her home for him - this boy who killed her son.

But, the story doesn't end there - for one day, this Mother in one of the greatest single acts of compassion and forgiveness I have ever witness..adopted this boy.When asked about her statement in court she smiled and replied, "You know, I did kill that boy. The boy standing in front of me, is no longer the one who killed my son."

So, I am reminded of this Mother - who at the bottom pit of her own grief, was able to rise up.. give hope... and do something that would let love prevail.

That's what is motivating this crazy notion of mine.

I want to change the heart of all the bad guys.

I am excited (and just a bit scared) see how all this may go.


It's Never too Late.

Beautiful Poem - Mary Oliver

The Journey

One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice--
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
"Mend my life!"
each voice cried.
But you didn't stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
was terrible.
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do--
determined to save
the only life you could save.

The Secret to Happiness: Happy International Happiness Day!

Source: via Tara on Pinterest

“To see a world in a grain of sand and heaven in a wild flower, hold infinity in the palm of your hand and eternity in an hour.” ~ William Blake

Today is the first ever United Nations International Day of Happiness—a date intended to celebrate the United Nation’s commitment to “better capture the importance of the pursuit of happiness and well-being in development with a view to guiding their public policies.”

In celebration, I’ve ‘scrinched’ my eyebrows and spent at least the last 15 minutes perusing my inner-being looking for the very best advice on happiness.

After only the most careful reflection, I have whittled and distilled my wandering thoughts down to just these…

My three simple steps towards happiness:

1. Breathe.
2. Let go.
3. Follow your heart (no matter where it might go).
So, Happy International Happiness Day! Go out into this world, explore…discover… and pursue your biggest and wildest and craziest dreams.

And in that most spectacular process of wandering about, try your best to also make someone else’s day.
P.S. Yes, ‘scrinch’ is a word—well, at least it is to me.

Bonus Video: Ellen DeGeneres and Steve Shadyac on Happiness:


Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Why not become the one who lives with a full moon in each eye?

"Admit something.  

Everyone you see, you say to them
"Love me."

Of course you do not do this out loud:
Someone would call the cops.

Still, though, think about this,
This great pull in us to connect.

Why not become the one
Who lives with a full moon in each eye
That is always saying,

With that sweet moon Language
What every other eye in this world
Is dying to Hear?"

― Hafiz

Monday, March 18, 2013

A Letter to my Doctors: My Very Simple Hope Manifesto.


“When the world says, ‘Give up,’ Hope whispers, ‘Try it once more.’ ~Author Unknown

I had the most frightening experience recently, and one that will be etched in my mind as one of those ‘forever moments’ as I know in some way, it has forever changed me.

Truth be told, and over this past year, I have had a few of these sorts of forever moments.

And with each one, I’ve had to work just a little bit harder to center myself and clean up this ‘spiritual mess.’

Being sick is really hard.

Being sick every day, even harder.

And, I know I’m a much weaker version of what I once was—but, my heart and my spirit, are still quite amazingly strong.

I am resilient, but not so completely unbreakable—as perhaps, this process, has left my spirit feeling just a bit ‘raw.’

And yet, each day that I wake up, my heart spills over with gratitude, before these two feet ever hit that floor.

Because, I’ve learned that healing is much more than a bottle of medicine; true healing rises up from a much deeper ‘within.’

So, today I believe I will be redirecting these sails and setting down a brand new, and much better course.

One that surrounds me with the most love and joy….because…love and joy are the very best, and only true spiritual medicine.

In closing, and to all of my doctors and ‘friends’—this is my very best, and most simple ‘hope manifesto’…I just hope it makes a little sense to some.

A Letter to my Doctors: My Very Simple Hope Manifesto

Dear Medical “Community”…
Dear doctors, dear lab techs,
Dear difficult-to-pronounce specialists…
I am not your experiment, your head scratch, or very best guess… your bother in the middle of the night when no one else is there on call…
And, I am not the one to get shuffled on again because you’ve just reached your maximum thinking point.
I am tired of surgeries… of the pin pricks and pokes…
The looking over of charts and notes which are written in a language I just don’t understand…
I am tired of the wheezing when I walk gently these few stairs.
And the million and one side effects from all of your pills and potions?
I am tired of those, as well.
In treating my heart, you’ve broken my soul.
And now, it seems, you won’t even look me in these tired eyes when it is that I sit in front of you these days.
Is that your guilt? Your own fear?
I am afraid, too. 
I am afraid that these moments passing will never be found again.
I am afraid that each day I will feel myself grow just a little bit weaker, and with no help in sight.
And I am afraid that those I love most will get that call in the middle of the night.. the one that will take their breath away and change their lives in forever sorts of ways.
I have this fear, too.
And yet, I hold hope stronger than each and all and every single little shred of this fear…
Because, I know…so very down deep in my heart, that even this darkness will someday define my light.
And on those nights, when fear challenges me the most—hope is always near to help my heart smile again.
They say, hope rises in the most mysterious of ways, and on these such days—when it is that your heart is finally open to it.
My heart is always open to hope. I suggest you let yours do the same.
Because, where there is hope… you’ll find a limitless possibility…
And in that space of limitless possibility,
That’s where all the best miracles begin.
So, why don’t you come out and meet me right there?

Bonus Poem on Loving Life Again:

The Thing Is by Ellen Bass
to love life, to love it even
when you have no stomach for it
and everything you’ve held dear
crumbles like burnt paper in your hands,
your throat filled with the silt of it.
When grief sits with you, its tropical heat
thickening the air, heavy as water
more fit for gills than lungs;
when grief weights you like your own flesh
only more of it, an obesity of grief,
you think, How can a body withstand this?
Then you hold life like a face
between your palms, a plain face,
no charming smile, no violet eyes,
and you say, yes, I will take you
I will love you, again.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

The Most Brilliant Tribute to the World’s Best Dad. {Viral}

Source: via Tara on Pinterest

“He taught them to fish, to select a quality hammer, to love nature, and to just be thankful.”

From the outside and looking in, and to all other strangers and passerbys—Harry Stamps was just another ordinary man. He wasn’t famous, never invented anything noteworthy or awe-inspiring (unless, perhaps you’ll consider his infamous Bunny White Bread sandwich), and he probably received a few ‘squinchy eyes’ for some of his more ‘pronounced’ views on life.

Unless, that is, you ask his daughter—in which case, she shall carefully recount all of those wonderfully delightful ‘stuff-in-between’ moments that made her so very happy that he was her Dad.

Word of warning, though, as a daughter’s view of her Dad will often rival the very best of “hero” novels around…

What began simply as, “Harry Weathersby Stamps, ladies’ man, foodie, natty dresser, and accomplished traveler” is now taking the internet by storm—capturing the very best of daughter views of the man she called her Dad.

And, in doing so—she’s given us all a glimpse of what it means to have a life, ‘well lived.’
Now, the obituary and her subsequent video have gone viral—touching the hearts of millions of readers worldwide. If you’ve not yet heard of Harry Weathersby Stamps, you soon will—as the obituary seems to be making it’s rounds everywhere.

Daughter, Amanda Lewis, told the Sun Herald that her father ironically wouldn’t even know what ‘viral’ means.
“He wouldn’t know what going viral means. He would have thought that was a disease he contracted, which would have excited him to have another illness to lord over folks,” said daughter Amanda Lewis, who wrote the obituary. An attorney who lives in Dallas, she wrote it during the trip to Long Beach, where Stamps died at home on Saturday, surrounded by his family.
For what it’s worth, and when it’s my time to go—I hope it’s the ‘stuff-in-between’ moments that get stuck in people’s heads.

Here is just a short excerpt of her tribute; the rest can be read online right here.
“Harry Weathersby Stamps, ladies’ man, foodie, natty dresser, and accomplished traveler, died on March 9, 2013.
He excelled at growing camellias, rebuilding houses after hurricanes, rocking, eradicating mole crickets from his front yard, composting pine needles, living within his means, outsmarting squirrels, never losing a game of competitive sickness, and reading any history book he could get his hands on.
He despised phonies, his 1969 Volvo (which he also loved), know-it-all Yankees, Southerners who used the words ‘veranda’ and ‘porte cochere’ to put on airs, eating grape leaves, Law and Order (all franchises), cats, and Martha Stewart.
He particularly hated Daylight Saving Time, which he referred to as The Devil’s Time. It is not lost on his family that he died the very day that he would have had to spring his clock forward. This can only be viewed as his final protest.
Finally, the family asks that in honor of Harry that you write your Congressman and ask for the repeal of Day Light Saving Time. Harry wanted everyone to get back on the Lord’s Time.”

Daughter, Amanda Lewis, fondly remembers her most amazing Dad.


The Only Three Things That Matter.

Friday, March 15, 2013

In a Funk.

Source: via Lits on Pinterest

I've been in a bit of a funk, beginning yesterday and carrying on into today.

I have been really good throughout recent challenges in keeping my emotions (mostly) in tow; as, I've realized there's no sense wasting a moment to fleeting foolishness.

But, every once in a while, life....hits me...hard - and in this case, in the form of a voice mail message that I wasn't able to respond to as quickly as I would have liked and/or intended.

I have learned (through much effort) to keep myself grounded in my moments - I don't dream outwards too very far, and I don't think too much about the things that have passed. In the moment is my new 'comfort zone.'

And, I'm finding that those close to me are having a difficult time understanding my new 'orientation.' Some, have even challenged that I'm too weak or too fearful for honest forward thinking.

But, it's not that way, at all.

I stay in this moment, because...this is the best moment of all. It's the best moment of all - because, there are no 'what if' scenarios here... no worrying or carrying on. It's the time when I can connect to everything fully and all around me... keeping myself, most centered of all.

I like now. And I love my 'this moment's right here.

When I walk outside, I want to close my eyes and know what 'wind' really feels like. And, coming in...when I hang up my coat, I want to savor that 'outside smell' that lingers still in the woven fabric.

I'm here in this moment; because, this is the moment that I love most of all.

And yet, yesterday - I felt a bit ripped from that coziness, and comfort...shocked awake from a deep, deep sleep. Disoriented...discouraged...and looking back at my 'this moment' and almost missing it a bit.

Hence, my funk - because, I feel a bit disconnected from now.

And, I miss my friend 'this moment' quite a bit.

Also, I think chocolate should always be 'prescribed' for funkiness.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

A Letter from Groucho Marx.

I love Groucho Marx. Not so much a fan of Woody Allen, but I suppose if Groucho liked him—he couldn't be 'all bad.'

The two enjoyed a near life long, and quite comedic, friendship marked notably by the exchange of some of the silliest letters around. 

Though, there was a short spot in 1976—when Groucho learned his dear friend Woody was a bit perturbed that his last letter had gone 'unanswered.' 

Here is the response, written in such a brilliantly sarcastic Groucho style—here is the response.

March 22, 1967

Dear WW:

Goodie Ace told some unemployed friend of mine that you were disappointed or annoyed or happy or drunk that I hadn't answered the letter you wrote me some years ago. You know, of course, there is no money in answering letters—unless they're letters of credit from Switzerland or the Mafia. I write you reluctantly, for I know you are doing six things simultaneously—five including sex. I don't know where you get the time to correspond.

Your play, I trust, will still be running when I arrive in New York the first or second week in April. This must be terribly annoying to the critics who, if I remember correctly, said it wouldn't go because it was too funny. Since it's still running, they must be even more annoyed. This happened to my son's play, on which he collaborated with Bob Fisher. The moral is: don't write a comedy that makes an audience laugh.

This critic problem has been discussed ever since I was Bar Mitzvahed almost 100 years ago. I never told this to anyone, but I received two gifts when I emerged from childhood into what I imagine today is manhood. An uncle, who was then in the money, presented me with a pair of long black stockings, and an aunt, who was trying to make me, gave me a silver watch. Three days after I received these gifts, the watch disappeared. The reason it was gone was that my brother Chico didn't shoot pool nearly as well as he thought he did. He hocked it at a pawnshop at 89th Street and Third Avenue. One day while wandering around aimlessly, I discovered it hanging in the window of the hock shop. Had not my initials been engraved on the back, I wouldn't have recognized it, for the sun had tarnished it so completely it was now coal black. The stockings, which I had worn for a week without ever having them washed, were now a mottled green. This was my total reward for surviving 13 years.

And that, briefly, is why I haven't written you for some time. I'm still wearing the stockings—they're not my stockings anymore, they're just parts of my leg.

You wrote that you were coming out here in February, and I, in a frenzy of excitement, purchased so much delicatessen that, had I kept it in cold cash instead of cold cuts, it would have taken care of my contribution to the United Jewish Welfare Fund for 1967 and '68.

I think I'll be at the St. Regis hotel in New York. And for God's sake don't have any more success—it's driving me crazy. My best to you and your diminutive friend, little Dickie.


No Two Families are Alike.

From Huffington Post:

10-year-old Sophia Bailey-Klugh wrote and illustrated an endearing letter to U. S. President Barack Obama and, as the daughter of a gay couple, thanked him for supporting same-sex marriage. She then asked for advice on how to respond to those who saw such a thing as "gross and weird." Her letter, and the reply she soon received, can be seen below.

Note: Obama's response has since been verified as genuine by an official spokesperson.

Transcripts follow each letter.

(Source: Huffington Post; Image of Obama via)


Dear Barack Obama,

It's Sophia Bailey Klugh. Your friend who invited you to dinner. You don't remember okay that's fine. But I just wanted to tell you that I am so glad you agree that two men can love each other because I have two dads and they love each other. But at school kids think that it's gross and weird but it really hurts my heart and feelings. So I come to you because you are my hero. If you were me and you had two dads that loved each other, and kids at school teased you about it, what would you do?

Please respond!

I just wanted to say you really inspire me, and I hope you win on being the president. You would totally make the world a better place.

Your friend Sophia

P.S. Please tell your daughters Hi for me!

President Barack Obama

November 1, 2012

Miss Sophia Bailey-Klugh

Dear Sophia,

Thank you for writing me such a thoughtful letter about your family. Reading it made me proud to be your president and even more hopeful about the future of our nation.

In America, no two families look the same. We celebrate this diversity. And we recognize that whether you have two dads or one mom what matters above all is the love we show one another. You are very fortunate to have two parents who care deeply for you. They are lucky to have such an exceptional daughter in you.

Our differences unite us. You and I are blessed to live in a country where we are born equal no matter what we look like on the outside, where we grow up, or who our parents are. A good rule is to treat others the way you hope they will treat you. Remind your friends at school about this rule if they say something that hurts your feelings.

Thanks again for taking the time to write to me. I'm honored to have your support and inspired by your compassion. I'm sorry I couldn't make it to dinner, but I'll be sure to tell Sasha and Malia you say hello.


(Signed, 'Barack Obama')

Not Everything is Always What it Seems: A Brilliant Shadow Art Love Story. (elephant journal)

Source: via Tara on Pinterest

“The true work of art is but a shadow of the divine perfection.” ~ Michelangelo

Not everything is what it seems.

At first glance, and in our haste, we could miss the most beautiful perfection that is there patiently waiting for us to turn our gaze ‘just the right way.’

What if, the true magic of life could only be discovered somewhere deep within the shadows? Would we still be so sad when those shadows settled in?

If we just paused, just a moment, to really look and to see….perhaps, hiding in all that spiritual trash we might just find…

Two long time lovers, who were sitting at an impasse…with all the weight of this world pressing down and onto their shoulders…


You see, the young woman, she felt so ‘disconnected,’ and separate…and so sadly pulled away from her ‘most complete whole’…


That she spent all of her hours… lost inside of her thoughts… looking ‘outward,’ instead of looking in…


That she never even, not once, noticed, that he was always right there…waiting for her to come back to ‘we’ once again…


And when she let her thoughts go just a bit still…


She found, there was much more room in her heart…to reach out and love fully again…


Because, life isn’t always what it seems at first glance…it’s when we take the time to let our hearts rest, that we can be still enough to see the true message inside.

What might first appear to be a steaming pile of spiritual trash…could actually be hiding something quite magnificent inside.

And, remember….
“There is strong shadow where there is much light.”
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Götz von Berlichingen
Oh, yes… and p.s. – These two shadow lovers? They lived happily ever after…(the end)


Tuesday, March 12, 2013

You Are Not So Very Small, At All.

 “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.” ~ Marianne Williamson

Today, I watched from my window as a group of boys raced back and forth. Behind them, and trying desperately to keep up the pace, was a younger boy—maybe just six years old.

“Go away,” they shouted. “You’re too little to play with us.”

And then I watched, as the littlest of the boys…hung his head sadly and walked away.

So, I stepped outside and called him near, as I could tell that he needed a smile.

“Come here,” I called out. “And now, tell me…just what is this awfully big matter?”

“I’m too small,” he sniffled through his tears.

Oh, how I remember that feeling of always being too ‘so very small.’ Chasing my big brother and all of his friends perilously through those thick woods. I wanted so very much to be part of their much bigger group—to laugh and to play. But always, and inevitably, they would ‘shoosh’ me away.

“You’re too small.” they would shout. “Go home, we don’t want you around!”

Sometimes, the earliest of lessons are the ones that stick with us the longest. Because, I will never forget that feeling of being so very small. I suppose, that’s why it is that I’m always on the lookout for little ones being pushed away.

“Come here,” I said. “Let me show you a little something. Do you see those trees, how they move?

And how the birds, they’re way up their looking down at you. And, the wind? Can, you feel the wind against your cheek? Oh, and how about that sun way up over there? Close your eyes, and tell me…can you feel the sun’s light shining down on you?”

“Yes,” he sniffled, as he scrunched up his eyes and turned his face towards the sky.

Well,” I whispered secretly to him, “all of that is the Universe—and you’re a big part of that, too. Everything that is, and everything that was…and everything that will ever be, it’s all a part of you.

And, all that stuff you feel inside of your heart? That’s a little piece of it within you. So, you see…with all of this great big Universe inside and around you, you are not so very small, at all.”

And, though—at six years old, I’m not sure just how very much of these words may have settled in. I could tell, at least, as he looked up at the sky—that he felt just a little ‘bigger’ that day.

We all feel small, sometimes.

And, there will always be something much bigger than our own hearts, and with the capacity to completely humble our souls.

In life, there will always be challenges. And, there will be times when we face what may seem to be insurmountable odds.

But know this—nothing is ever too big, and we are never too small.

So, shine on and shine through—because, after all, the Universe is within you.

And always remember, no matter how hopeless the odds—even a hummingbird can put out a forest fire.

In this beautifully animated clip from Dirt! The Movie, Wangari Maathai tells an inspiring tale of doing the best you can under seemingly interminable odds. ~ DirtTheMovie

“Be the Hummingbird”

Monday, March 11, 2013

Will Need to Take a Wee Bit of a Writing Break.

To focus a bit on health and healing...just a few days, I suspect...

Sending much love, and the most brilliant of lights to all and to everyone ~


The Legacy is You. (elephant journal)

Source: via Natasha on Pinterest

“Everyone must leave something behind when he dies . . . Something your hand touched some way so your soul has somewhere to go when you die.” ~  Ray Bradbury

What you do…matters.

Your voice…resonates in ways you may never know nor ever fully realize.

What you feel in your heart and share with this world…is everlasting.

So, read stories to your little ones…and take much longer walks in the woods…

And when someone comes to bend your ear, listen with all your heart and until they are done

Set an extra place at dinner time, and for the purposes of ‘just in case’…

And let laughter, silliness, kindness and compassion be at the forefront of all that you create.

But most importantly…

Live your life with endless flourish and a forever sort of impact…

And leave your fingerprints all over the hearts of those that you touch.

Because, in the end all that will matter is the ‘you’ that you leave behind.

“And when he died, I suddenly realized I wasn’t crying for him at all, but for all the things he did…He shaped the world. He did things to the world. The world was bankrupted of ten million fine actions the night he passed on.” ~ Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451
This is my most favorite video in this whole wide world—Randy Pausch, Carnegie Melon University Professor, brilliantly witty observationalist and a friend to all who had the pleasure of meeting him.

This was his last lecture, and this is his legacy.

It’s a long one, but one that will certainly change your perspective on life and living.

So curl up, grab a glass of wine, settle in and enjoy…I promise, it will be (one of) the most inspirational videos you’ve ever seen.

*pinky swear*

Like elephant journal on Facebook.

Dog Carries Puppies to Safety.

When a house fire threatened to destroy a Temuco, Chile home - firefighters on scene witnessed something truly incredible.

Firefighters and passerby's watched as a brave Mother dog, Amanda, raced back and forth to carry her 10 little puppies to safety as this fire engulfed their house.

One by one, she delivered her precious puppies safely to the inside bay of the firetruck. And when all of her puppies were verified 'safe and sound' - Amanda, lay next to them until the emergency veterinary services had checked them all out.

What an amazing example of a Mother's love...

Sunday, March 10, 2013

“Pastry” Gun Control…Seriously!?

Josh Welch (a.k.a. Pastry Gun Bandit)
Josh Welch (a.k.a. Pastry Gun Bandit

So, just what in the world is this world coming to when it is that we have zero tolerance for “pastry” guns?


The other day as I as sifting through our local news, I saw a story about a 7 year-old boy who was recently suspended from school for two days in what the newspaper described as an “apparent gun-shaped food incident.”

No, I’m not making this up—I wish that I was, but sadly, no. This is an actual story coming from my sleepy little smaller town. I have a letter from the school to prove it—”Dear Parents…there’s been a gun-shaped food incident. And, in accordance with our ‘zero tolerance’ policy for guns…”

I could go on, but it’s really, really sad.

It appears that on Friday of just this past week, 7-year old Joshua Welch came to school with all the good intentions any little boy of his age might display. He began his day with a Pledge to the Flag (as any “good American” may) and then went on to finger paints.

And that’s when the shit got real.

In an act of what could only be described by school administrators as malice and planned murderous intent—Josh picked up his ‘fake’ Peanut Butter and Jelly Toaster Strudel and fashioned it into a gun.


When pressed for comment on this incident, young Josh simply replied, “I didn’t get to finish all my breakfast. So, I’m still kind of hungry.”

Look, guys…I’m all for doing everything we can to keep our children safe. Particularly, in the wake of recent gun violence—we all have a sense of this great fear.

And, in living in this great State of Maryland—and subsequently through the 9/11 bombing of our Pentagon as well as the “Beltway Sniper” shootings—I can tell you from my heart, as a parent…as a Mom…I know this fear well.

I remember racing from the airport and to my young children on 9/11 and just as soon as I had realized what was really going on. I’ll never forget the hopelessness and dread in my heart as I made my way to the school. When I was finally able to get my arms firmly around them once again, I literally dropped to my knees and cried.

I had never held something so tight in all of my life, than I did with my children on that day.
And, just shortly thereafter the Beltway Sniper shot a little boy at a school down the road.
Yes, I know fear. And I want most for our children to be safe.

But, I also want children to know childhood without such worries—to laugh, to play, to discover…to squish their toes in the mud of life..and to metaphorically ‘wish upon a star.’

In all things there must be balance; I have to believe there is possibility for balance in this, too.
“Safety and security don’t just happen, they are the result of collective consensus and public investment. We owe our children, the most vulnerable citizens in our society, a life free of violence and fear.” – Nelson Mandela
When I was growing up, my biggest fears included ghosts, thunderstorms, and that creepy guy from Friday the 13th movie. And possibly that jello with all the crap in it.

But now? It seems our children are swimming in fear.

And, how can a child fully discover this life when he is afraid to step out that front door?

I have to believe there is just a better way to approach all of this?

And, I believe it begins with the common sense in our heads.

Thankfully, at least in Maryland legislators are already drafting a bill to impose a little sense and sensibility into this matter: The Pastry Gun Protection Act which would protect the rights of kids and their Pop Tarts, and yet still allow school administrators final jurisdiction in matters where the Pop Tart is being ‘brandished’ as a weapon.

Nope, again…I couldn’t possibly make any of this stuff up.

But no amount of legislation will ever take the place of giving our kids a good place to live. And, no matter how hard you try—you just can’t legislate fear away.

The "Science" of Love.

"We exist, because of love." - Jeffrey Wright.

Geek alert.

The other day, a group of friends and I were discussing the compelling point/counter points of the statistical validity of random number generators as it relates to Global Consciousness.

Didn't I warn you?

I had recently watched a video about the Global Consciousness Project (a really cool study, if you've got a few extra minutes in your day). You see, another group of really smart friends and scientists had discovered a most interesting correlation between major world events and the emotional responses to those events.

In each case, and following these moments of either great joy or tragedy, the scientist noted significant fluctuations in data that should never have been impacted. It was almost as if these random number generators were responding to the collective heartbeat of this world.

Pretty freaky, huh?

So, for 45 minutes I sat there listening intently (mostly) until my mind was nearly point-counterpointed to death. But, even after all of their most educated mutterings—I couldn't help but feel there was something much bigger going on.

And as they puffed up their chests, and pondered their 'hows'... that's when I realized they were missing their 'why.'

"Yes, but why?" I asked. "Why is this happening? Is it the greater part of a much higher consciousness? Why?"

(awkward pause)

Sometimes, it may seem that science has all of the answers until it is that you ask them that 'why.'
Jeffrey Wright, a physics teacher from Louisville, Kentucky,  faced this very same dilemma when life dealt him what he felt to be an earth shattering blow.When his son was born with Joubert’s syndrome, a rare genetic disorder effecting only 417 people in the world, this brilliant and most loved teacher found he was unable to answer that very same question.
“The whole thing about where the universe came from? I didn’t care. … I started asking myself, what was the point of it?”
And then, one day, he found it—the most beautiful 'why' of all.

In life, we are faced with obstacles and challenges—some of which may shake us to our very core. But sometimes, it's the little things that happen along this way—that end up bringing to us the greatest gift of all.

And though, it may be easy to explain the scientific facts of this Universe—you'll find it takes a much deeper and more personal emotional connection to truly understand our place within it. It's through this connection, that Mr. Wright finds a way to teach his students a lesson that they may carry forward and forever throughout their lives.
“There is something a lot greater than energy. There’s something a lot greater than entropy. What’s the greatest thing?”
Love,” his students whisper.
So, to all of my friends with the 'puffied' up chests—it would seem the answer to 'why' is love.

Wright's Law from Zack Conkle on Vimeo.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Inspiration's Manifesto: Go, Do, and Create


“A rock pile ceases to be a rock pile the moment a single man contemplates it, bearing within him the image of a cathedral.” ~  Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince

Inspiration found me this morning—even though, I was trying my very best to tuck away with a hot cup of decaf and just the littlest wedge of remaining dark chocolate. Alas, the little bugger just wouldn’t let me be…

We’re actually good friends, he and I—even if he does sometimes pester me in the middle of the night, nudging me awake from the deepest of sleep and with all sorts of wonderings-on.

And asking those questions with such very long answers, like, “what is this thing we call life?” or “what makes a heart really smile?”

And though, I do love my dear friend, Inspiration…at times, he can be a bit like that one annoying kid at a sleepover—you know, the one who’s mind just never rests…chattering on and on and on again, until the earliest hours of the breaking dawn.

Just how the heck did that kid wake up refreshed?

So, here I am now with just this fleck of an idea, stuck inside of my mind and just rolling around—and what choice do I have? There’s really just none—my only option now is to go, do, and create.


And, yet, as inconvenient as this may all seem to be—I’m still really grateful to have him around.

erik blog 1=3I think we all need friends just like these—the ones who’ll force us to pause and to think…who’ll gently tug us down yet another endlessly, winding path…and, even on those days when we’d rather wish for that ‘walk’ to be done.

And, though, he can often seem to be a bit of a pest—always showing up at just the wrong time…I assure you Inspiration’s intentions are (mostly) genuine, otherwise, why would he bother to drop by at all?

So go now…dream…build, and create… and while you’re at it, why not just let Inspiration tag along?

Just make sure to bring a really thick notebook…as Inspiration can be quite the indomitable chatterer.

Bonus: Stop thinking so much. Go, Do!