Friday, May 31, 2013

Let Me Be...Me.

“Dear God," she prayed, "let me be something every minute of every hour of my life. Let me be gay; let me be sad. Let me be cold; let me be warm. Let me be hungry...have too much to eat. Let me be ragged or well dressed. Let me be sincere - be deceitful. Let me be truthful; let me be a liar. Let me be honorable and let me sin. Only let me be something every blessed minute. And when I sleep, let me dream all the time so that not one little piece of living is ever lost.”― Betty Smith, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
To my most beautiful son, and as you take that first big step out into this world...

Pay attention to the moments, my dear - the littler ones are often the best.

And always keep those eyes set wide to open, even in times when you'd much rather tuck away.

Life can be difficult, my dear, I know...but I promise you, it's often in some of our darkest moments...that life shares with us its greatest gift...

And, it's ok to feel afraid and sad, at times - but know this, you are never alone...

Because, with each new step you take out into this world — a piece of me will always be coming along with you.

You are my light, my most beautiful son...and you shall always be the better part of me.

Because, you gift...has always been you.

Now go out there, my be something....every minute of every hour of your days...

I am so very proud of you...

Love, Mommy 

Thursday, May 30, 2013

A Little Smile, Just for You, and at the End of Your day.

“When an eighty-five pound mammal licks your tears away, then tries to sit on your lap, it's hard to feel sad.” ― Kristan Higgins
A short collection, the "best of" videos clips of puppies welcoming home their owners from a long time away in deployment.

I promise, this will make you smile ~ even if you *are* still a little bit grumpy from the very hot heat.

A Tale of Two Puppies.

“And the blind man said to the deaf man, "Do you see what I hear?” ― Wayne Gerard Trotman

Isn't it amazing how very much our perspective influences our reality? 

With just a simple shift of 'vision' our world takes on an entirely new and most dazzling 'hue.'

I am often reminded of this in those moments when I feel myself getting swept away into the churning sea of my own wandering thoughts.

Sometimes, we spend so much time focusing on that one single thought...the emotion of that moment...that we fail to see that all that is right there waiting so patiently to be seen.

This world comes alive in the most magnificent of ways, when our minds are still enough to finally breathe.

It's only then that we finally realize, to the mind that is still this whole universe surrenders.

Namaste, and much, much love today.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

China's "Cancer Villages" - Pollution's Devastation Coming to Light.

From Investigative Reporter, Deng Fei - A Mapping of China's Worst Hit "Cancer Villages"
 “One hundred and fifty years ago, the monster began, this country had become a place of industry. Factories grew on the landscape like weeds. Trees fell, fields were up-ended, rivers blackened. The sky choked on smoke and ash, and the people did, too, spending their days coughing and itching, their eyes turned forever toward the ground. Villages grew into town, towns into cities. And people began to live on the earth rather than within it.”  ― Patrick Ness, A Monster Calls

I try always to be uplifting in my posts, but this story...compels me closer.

It's a story about the impact of pollution on our environment, specifically, discussing the 'cancer villages' of China. And, it's a story about living on the earth, rather than within it.

We are a disposable society. Everything we eat, drink, and even some point becomes our trash. Our homes, our cars...and even our work spaces - have so sadly become mechanisms for increasing this 'world problem.'

We are leaving our dirty 'footprints' everywhere.  

And, it's time to start doing a little something about it.

There are dozens of ways to make a small change in each day, and these smaller time...create a much greater impact.

Environmentalists have long campaigned for the Chinese government to recognize their role in these 'cancer clusters' - the results of poisons leaching into the soil, water, and air. But it wasn't until 2009, when investigative journalist Deng Fei helped to bring this issue to the world view.

And he did it by simply creating a Google map of those areas hardest hit.

This single image has garnered world-wide attention, and a call to action for the Chinese Government to respond to its citizens. And today, the Chinese government finally has admitted to this problem. 

The admission came by way of a report by China's Environment ministry, which stated,

"In recent years, toxic and hazardous chemical pollution has caused many environmental disasters, cutting off drinking water supplies, and even leading to severe health and social problems such as 'cancer villages'"
Journalist, Deng Fei had this to say;

"China is suffering from the negative impact of improper economic growth patterns. And the country will continue to pay the price for heavy pollutants in the future."
And though, China may seem such a world away - we are still living and sharing in this one single environment. 

A Dream of Possibility.

"All men dream but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that it was vanity; but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dream with open eyes to make it possible." T.E. Lawrence
Every child has dreams. Even at the youngest age we are prompted by our school teachers to answer that first life's question, "What do you want to be when you grow up?"

And when Dergin Tokmak answered, "I want to be a dancer," well - it wasn't quite met with the same level of unconditional encouragement and support.

You see, Dergin was not like all the other children. At just one year old, Dergin contracted polio - leaving him partially paralyzed from the waist down. And even though, everyone argued about the feasibility of his little boy dreams - each day, Dergin continued to follow his very own heart.

And today?

Dergin is a featured 'dancer' with the Internationally acclaimed Cirque Du Soleil show "VAREKAI" - proof positive, that when we follow our hearts, anything is possible.

This is a story about a boy who challenged and defied his own physical limitations to pursue his dreams of becoming a dancer.

And this, is Dergin Tokmak.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

A Little Something Worth Clarifying.

“Everybody's got the potential for great good and great wrong in them, but it's the choices we make that define who we really are.” ― Charles de Lint
I wrote and article just recently on elephant journal - one that highlighted Nipun Mehta's most wonderful commencement speech and his response to the Time Magazine article "Me, Me, Me" generation. 

You can read the article right here.

As I have been facing a bit of criticism for my views, I wanted to address these here. First and foremost, I believe in each child's potential - I *see* potential in every single face that greets me. 

I see potential and hope in each day. 

That doesn't mean that I am blind to this worlds woes, rather it means—I choose to face them in a uniquely different way. I am this way, in part because of my experiences—which have most carefully, and humbly taught me the lesson of true compassion. And likewise, seeing hope and potential...I am also able to see that there is always another way. 

As well, I mentioned in my article that my son would be changing out his kid clothes for that of a military uniform. Why did I include this statement as well as the other examples? Because, I wanted to show that in addition to data...there is always context. This article failed (in my opinion) to show the full context of our children. 

Don't simply state the your statistics regarding the prevalence of social media—unless you are also willing to share statistics on compassion. 

I am so very proud of my son—and it truly breaks my heart to see any comments that would diminish the brilliance and selflessness of his own heart. 

Also, I do believe very strongly—that you most certainly can be a soldier and still have the capacity to bring this world closer to peace and compassion. I, for one, am that example.

I hope that my words help to shed a little more light on my last article—and if it offended *any* of you, I do offer my most sincere apologies. 

But, I won't ever change my opinion—as I will always see this world's potential. 

Because, this is my choice, until my last dying day...

On Memorial Day.

This is reprinted from an article written by American humorist, and long time 60 Minutes commentator, Andy Rooney.

This brought tears to my eyes, because...well, most of you will just never know. 

"A Memorial Day Worth Remembering.

Tomorrow is Memorial Day, the day we have set aside to honor by remembering all the Americans who have died fighting for the thing we like the most about our America: the freedom we have to live as we please.

No official day to remember is adequate for something like that. It's too formal. It gets to be just another day on the calendar. No one would know from Memorial Day that Richie M., who was shot through the forehead coming onto Omaha Beach on June 6, 1944, wore different color socks on each foot because he thought it brought him good luck.

No one would remember on Memorial Day that Eddie G. had promised to marry Julie W. the day after he got home from the war, but didn't marry Julie because he never came home from the war. Eddie was shot dead on an un-American desert island, Iwo Jima.

For too many Americans, Memorial Day has become just another day off. There's only so much time any of us can spend remembering those we loved who have died, but the men, boys really, who died in our wars deserve at least a few moments of reflection during which we consider what they did for us.

They died.

We use the phrase "gave their lives," but they didn't give their lives. Their lives were taken from them.

There is more bravery at war than in peace, and it seems wrong that we have so often saved this virtue to use for our least noble activity - war. The goal of war is to cause death to other people.

Because I was in the Army during World War II, I have more to remember on Memorial Day than most of you. I had good friends who were killed.

Charley Wood wrote poetry in high school. He was killed when his Piper Cub was shot down while he was flying as a spotter for the artillery.

Bob O'Connor went down in flames in his B-17.

Obie Slingerland and I were best friends and co-captains of our high school football team. Obie was killed on the deck of the Saratoga when a bomb that hadn't dropped exploded as he landed.

I won't think of them anymore tomorrow, Memorial Day, than I think of them any other day of my life.

Remembering doesn't do the remembered any good, of course. It's for ourselves, the living. I wish we could dedicate Memorial Day, not to the memory of those who have died at war, but to the idea of saving the lives of the young people who are going to die in the future if we don't find some new way - some new religion maybe - that takes war out of our lives.

That would be a Memorial Day worth celebrating.

Written By Andy Rooney Copyright 2010 CBS. All rights reserved."

Too Beautiful Not to Share: Shared Words, Shared Worlds.

 “I don't want to live in the kind of world where we don't look out for each other. Not just the people that are close to us, but anybody who needs a helping hand. I cant change the way anybody else thinks, or what they choose to do, but I can do my bit.” ― Charles de Lint 

Some many years ago, while waiting for her flight, then delayed, in an airport in Albuquerque, New Mexico--Arab-American poet, Naomi Shihab Nye found herself in a most unexpected circumstance of distress and misunderstanding.

For you see, an elderly woman - wearing the traditional Palestinian dress - was wailing against the cold airport floor, inconsolable and unable to be reached.

She was called there by an airport announcement, "If anyone here understands Arabic..."

And thus began her journey into kindness.

Not everything is always as it seems. There is a human heart shining beneath the veil. If only we just take that one moment to believe and to see.

Naomi was so moved by her experience, that she did what most writers do - she took out her pen, and created.

And now, this lovely poem has circled the globe many time over and again - and is a reminder that dears, is a shared world, indeed.

Shared Words, Shared Worlds

--by Naomi Shihab Nye, May 03, 2013
After learning my flight was detained 4 hours,

I heard the announcement:
If anyone in the vicinity of gate 4-A understands any Arabic,
Please come to the gate immediately.

Well—one pauses these days. Gate 4-A was my own gate. I went there.
An older woman in full traditional Palestinian dress,
Just like my grandma wore, was crumpled to the floor, wailing loudly.
Help, said the flight service person. Talk to her. What is her
Problem? we told her the flight was going to be four hours late and she
Did this.

I put my arm around her and spoke to her haltingly.
Shu dow-a, shu- biduck habibti, stani stani schway, min fadlick,
Sho bit se-wee?

The minute she heard any words she knew—however poorly used—
She stopped crying.

She thought our flight had been canceled entirely.
She needed to be in El Paso for some major medical treatment the
Following day. I said no, no, we’re fine, you’ll get there, just late,

Who is picking you up? Let’s call him and tell him.
We called her son and I spoke with him in English.
I told him I would stay with his mother till we got on the plane and
Would ride next to her—Southwest.

She talked to him. Then we called her other sons just for the fun of it.

Then we called my dad and he and she spoke for a while in Arabic and
Found out of course they had ten shared friends.

Then I thought just for the heck of it why not call some Palestinian
Poets I know and let them chat with her. This all took up about 2 hours.

She was laughing a lot by then. Telling about her life. Answering

She had pulled a sack of homemade mamool cookies—little powdered
Sugar crumbly mounds stuffed with dates and nuts—out of her bag—
And was offering them to all the women at the gate.

To my amazement, not a single woman declined one. It was like a
Sacrament. The traveler from Argentina, the traveler from California,
The lovely woman from Laredo—we were all covered with the same
Powdered sugar. And smiling. There are no better cookies.

And then the airline broke out the free beverages from huge coolers—
Non-alcoholic—and the two little girls for our flight, one African
American, one Mexican American—ran around serving us all apple juice
And lemonade and they were covered with powdered sugar too.

And I noticed my new best friend—by now we were holding hands—
Had a potted plant poking out of her bag, some medicinal thing,

With green furry leaves. Such an old country traveling tradition. Always
Carry a plant. Always stay rooted to somewhere.

And I looked around that gate of late and weary ones and thought,
This is the world I want to live in. The shared world.

Not a single person in this gate—once the crying of confusion stopped
—has seemed apprehensive about any other person.

They took the cookies. I wanted to hug all those other women too.
This can still happen anywhere.

Not everything is lost."

No One Saves Us But Ourselves.

“No one saves us but ourselves. No one can and no one may. We ourselves must walk the path.” ― Gautama Buddha
I have only just a few moments this morning, before I zip off into the busy-ness of my day. A day filled with appointments, and doctor visits, and much of the same sort of "carrying on"s.

It's so easy to become swept away. Even myself, as I was driving in this morning, I felt a 'tightening' within my chest - as my mind engaged itself in the most rambling of early morning dialogues. "What if...then what...?" I thought to myself.

And then, just like stopped.

And, I realized that this exactly and most precisely as I think it to be.

It doesn't matter at all what's going on in my world.

What matters more and most of all is how I choose to respond to my day.

Today, and in spite of all these goings on, I choose to be love and to love my whole world.

Namaste, and much love to you this day.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Nipun Meta's Graduation Advice to the "Me, Me, Me" Generation:

“Service doesn’t start when you have something to give; it blossoms naturally when you have nothing left to take.” ~  Nipun Mehta

I saw this magazine cover at the grocery store just the other day—I was there buying a card for my own son’s high school graduation scheduled for the end of this week.

I was offended, quite so, actually, by Time Magazine’s bold assertion—that this generation, was the “Me Generation.”

I thought about my own son, who for years has faced challenges that come with life and with living. By this label, he is also considered to be part of this, our most selfish generation.

But, what does Time Magazine know of the many times my son has set aside his own needs simply to help those ‘who needed it more.’

I think of that one Valentine’s Day, when I sat crying at the table—my own, very abusive boyfriend having ‘forgotten’ me on that most special day. My son, just barely nine years old bundled up in his best winter clothes and spent the next hour trudging through the heavy snow. And when he burst through that door, cheeks blistered red from the cold, I knew he had done something most special. “Mommy, come look!”
And there it was, in the hillside where the snow was deepest, and written in the largest letters I believe I have ever seen, a simple gesture that meant the world to me. It said, “Happy Valentine’s Day, Mom. I love you,” and for all of this world to see.

He could have easily just retreated to his room, unaware of the complexities of our ‘big person’ relationships.

Instead he braved the cold, and simply because he knew, I needed it more.

And, I remember the time when in the middle of the darkest night I received that call, “Mom, you need to come get us now. Dad, doesn’t want us here.” And when I arrived, there they stood, my son holding his sister whose eyes were filled with tears—and carrying in his hands, a plastic clothes basket filled with all of their most treasured belongings. He could have easily cried, but he held his head straightforward and high, and simply to be there for his sister.

Because she needed it more.

And when my health began this, it’s sharpest decline? My son was right there, doing all the heavy jobs around the house—and without, not once, ever having to be asked.

Why? Because he knew…how very much, I needed his support.

And now, on the occasion of him leaving this ‘nest’ and setting his sails to another, brand new world—he has just one question on his mind, that is, ‘How can I be of service to others?’

For you see, when my son graduates, he won’t be sitting around, self-absorbed into his video games. Rather, he will be swapping out his kid clothes for that of a military uniform.

Why? Because, he knows this world needs it more.

Sadly, being of service doesn’t seem to sell as many magazines these days. However, I certainly won’t be buying this one.

Why? Because, I know the reality of my own son’s heart better than any reporter living half-way across these United States might ever say.

Nipun Mehta, who was recently ‘selected’ to deliver this year’s commencement speech at The Harker School, an elite High School in San Jose, had this to say,
“This week, Time Magazine’s cover story labeled you guys as the “Me, Me, Me” generation; the week before, NY Times reported that the suicide rate for Gen X went up by 30% in the last decade, and 50% for the boomer generation. We’ve just learned that atmospheric carbon levels surpassed 400 PPM for the first time in human history. Our honeybee colonies are collapsing, thereby threatening the future of our food supply. And all this is just the tip of the iceberg.

And as he paused to look over the sea of young face staring back from this crowd, he continued,
“What we’re handing over to you is a world full of inspiring realities coupled with incredibly daunting ones. In other words: miserable and magical isn’t just a pop-song lyric—it’s the paradox that you are inheriting from us.”

Indeed, it is a daunting task—one that requires our loving-kindness and support in helping this generation navigate those rough waters. And, our job here is not ever done—rather, our job here has just begun.

“At the core of all of today’s most pressing challenges is one fundamental issue: we have become profoundly disconnected. We’ve forgotten how to rescue each other.”

Ironic, that this spiritual distance occurs in a world where Facebook has recently surpassed more than 150 billion connections.
And yet, we all know the capacity for loving-kindness and compassion exists within each of us in so many ways. It’s part of our spiritual DNA—that magical sequence of ‘coding’ that compels us to greatness in times of hardship or tragedy.
“We know we have it because we saw it at Sandy Hook, in the brave teachers who gave up their lives to save their students. We saw it during the Boston Marathon when runners completed the race and kept running to the nearest blood bank.  We saw it just this week in Oklahoma when a waiter at a fast food chain decided to donate all his tips to the tornado relief efforts and triggered a chain of generosity.”

And why? Because, just like my son, they realized someone else needed it more.

I think Time Magazine has perhaps missed the mark on this one. We don’t live in a “Me, Me, Me” generation—we just live in a world that is awfully, very confusing.

And, our job here today—is to share a little of our own light each day with this world.

Why? Because, I believe this generation needs it more.

Video: The Most Inspirational Commencement Speech Ever.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

My Faith is Restored!

"We are not going, not without a fight." - Asean Johnson

When 9 year old Asean Johnson found out that his school, Marcus Garvey Elementary, was sadly slated for closure—he decided he wasn't going down with a fight.

In a bold toe-to-toe with Mayor Rahm Emanuel—former Chief of Staff for President Barack Obama—and, the 'appointed' members of the now infamous, Chicago Public School administration, Asean declared,
"Education is our Right. That is what we have to fight!"
And in doing so, this magnificent young man brought the entire crowd at this Chicago school closing rally to their feet. 

I am so very proud of this young man, for his passion...determination...and his courage. That on this day, in finding his heart—he stands before all of us fearless and unwavering.

This is what we fight for...we fight for that which we believe.


One of My Most Favorite Songs.

"All these places have their moments, with lovers and friends, I still can recall. Some are dead and some are living, in my life...I've loved them all." - John Lennon

One of my most favorite songs—and, a beautiful cover of it, too.

I love how these words are wrapped in the most delicate melody—they stand alone with honesty and simplicity.

These are the days before the use of auto-tuning...and these are the days, when the simplest of lyrics spoke volumes. 
"There are places I remember
All my life, though some have changed
Some forever not for better
Some have gone and some remain
All these places have their moments
With lovers and friends I still can recall
Some are dead and some are living
In my life I've loved them all

But of all these friends and lovers
There is no one compares with you
And these memories lose their meaning
When I think of love as something new
Though I know I'll never lose affection
For people and things that went before
I know I'll often stop and think about them
In my life I love you more

Though I know I'll never lose affection
For people and things that went before
I know I'll often stop and think about them
In my life I love you more
In my life I love you more."
Canadian singer-songwriter Allison Crowe performs, live-in-the-studio, The Beatles beautiful In My Life.

In my life, I have loved them all, too.

Namaste, my most beautiful friends—I hope my simple words sometimes bring you a smile.

Video: Allison Crowe performs The Beatles, "In My Life."

Why I Love to Stargaze.

 “If the stars should appear but one night every thousand years how man would marvel and adore.”― Ralph Waldo Emerson 

I love stargazing.

I love looking up into the heavens and wondering about their 'endlessness.'

I love the way the grass feels against my back—soft, and just a little wet from the dew...but always, always cozy enough for me to stay, gazing back, just the littlest of while longer.

And, as I let my eyes move from star light to star bright...I engage my mind in the most thoughtful of 'wonderings on.'

I think about the very first person to stare up at the heavens on a night just like this.

I wonder what they must have thought about the depths of this sky's continuousness.

And, sometimes it is...on a night just like this...that I think about how far it is from that star right there to this one right here. 

Sometimes, I wonder, if there's anyone laying on a patch of cold, wet grass, looking out and back at me.

But inevitably towards the end of the night, I realize how their light is helping me to find my light within.
"I think that we are like stars. Something happens to burst us open; but when we burst open and think we are dying; we’re actually turning into a supernova. And then when we look at ourselves again, we see that we’re suddenly more beautiful than we ever were before!” ― C. JoyBell C.

Looking Past the Worry.

“How would your life be different if…You stopped worrying about things you can’t control and started focusing on the things you can? Let today be the day…You free yourself from fruitless worry, seize the day and take effective action on things you can change.” ― Steve Maraboli

Looking past the worry, there is a most magical space—a place where hope is so carefully tucked away, waiting for that one single moment to be discovered.

And it doesn't boast, or try to shine—it only just settles in to its very own stillness, and breathing in, all of your worries.

Hope never tires...and not once complains.

Hope is limitless...and will sit with you, when nothing else remains.

And hope...hope is your strength.

So why not, embrace hope? Instead of always 'shooshing' it away?

Friday, May 24, 2013

My Favorite Zen Buddhist Quote by Someone I'll Bet You Didn't Realize Was a Buddhist.

“Learning to let go should be learned before learning to get. Life should be touched, not strangled. You’ve got to relax, let it happen at times, and at others move forward with it.” ― Ray Bradbury
Though he may often refer to God in his stories, Ray Bradbury, author of Fahrenheit 451 and The Martian Chronicles (as well as, 600 or so other odd stories) when interviewed on the occassion of his 90th birthday said,

"I'm a Zen Buddhist if I would describe myself. I don't think about what I do. I do it. That's Buddhism. I jump off the cliff and build my wings on the way down."
It's one of my most favorite quotes regarding Buddhism, life, and the truest form of living. Not thinking, rather doing and figuring it out 'on the way down.'

I have faced many challenges in my life and my world. Some, a little more recent than those which have gone before them.

Nevertheless, with each day - and, no matter how I may feel - I smile in a way I've not ever done before. I smile from the centermost point of 'gratitude' - as I am always and forever, most grateful, to greet each new day. 

And though, my mobility is a little wobbly at times these the bird, my wings shall be formed as I leap from life's cliff and find my way back down to that 'ground.' 

Namaste, my most beautiful friends - and remember, you must build those wings in order to 'fly.'

Thursday, May 23, 2013

The (Real) Purpose of LIfe.

“The majority of us lead quiet, unheralded lives as we pass through this world. There will most likely be no ticker-tape parades for us, no monuments created in our honor. But that does not lessen our possible impact, for there are scores of people waiting for someone just like us to come along; people who will appreciate our compassion, our unique talents. Someone who will live a happier life merely because we took the time to share what we had to give. Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have a potential to turn a life around. It’s overwhelming to consider the continuous opportunities there are to make our love felt.” ― Leo Buscaglia

Someone said, quite loftily, to me today, "The purpose of life, to dream and to achieve."

I don't agree.

I think the purpose of get on with the living. And to show this great world just what 'unconditional love' really means.

You see, the real purpose of life is tucked away, hidden, within those sweet little moments.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Puppy Stays with Dead Mama Dog. {Beautiful Video}

This video made my heart smile *big*

A mother dog is hit by a car, leaving her puppy alone and defenseless against the heat and the most dangerous highway. Rescuers spent hours trying to catch this little guy, who refused to leave his mom. When they finally captured the puppy, he growled and snarled and tried to bite. Rescuers feared the dog to be feral - and yet still never let hope leave their sight.

Just watch what happens next. This is a story about one puppy's unconditional love.

Mindfulness for Our Children.

You are the sky. Everything else – it’s just the weather.” ― Pema Chödrön

Brother Phap Dung shares his thoughts on helping our children practice mindfulness. "As we teach children physical fitness, we can also teach them mental fitness..."

Take a moment to hear what he has to say.

The Whisper From Within Pandora's Box.

"Hope... which whispered from Pandora's box after all the other plagues and sorrows had escaped, is the best and last of all things. Without it, there is only time. And time pushes at our backs like a centrifuge, forcing outward and away, until it nudges us into oblivion... It's a law of motion, a fact of physics..., no different from the stages of white dwarves and red giants. Like all things in the universe, we are destined from birth to diverge. Time is simply the yardstick of our separation. If we are particles in a sea of distance, exploded from an original whole, then there is a science to our solitude. We are lonely in proportion to our years." — Ian Caldwell

I was speaking with a friend today, about a program called, "Outward Bound." Founded in 1941 by Kurt Hahn and Lawrence Holt—this school was designed to give 'young seaman' the ability to survive harsh conditions. It taught young men confidence, tenacity, perseverance and the ability to build experience through the harshest of conditions

Metaphorically, it also applied to life.

Some years later, the founders were giving a short lecture about the program, and with the intention to compel more youth to join. As the founders fumbled through a not-so-thoroughly convinced crowd, a young man (and graduate of the program) stood up to offer his assistance.

"You're not telling them the real reason why this program is so important," he challenged, "it's not just about the adventure and challenge, rather, it's more so because in doing it you will never again be afraid to try."

In life, there are many challenges—some large enough to knock us right off of our feet. And in their wake may exist a swirling sea of emotions...leaving us so fractured and fragile in our wondering why.

But, just as is the case with Pandora's box—there's always a little hope left inside.

What If They Never Made it Home? Nixon's Moving Speech, "In The Event Of a Moon Disaster."

"For every human being who looks up at the moon in the nights to come will know that there is some corner of another world that is forever mankind."
On July 20, 1969 our entire nation sat glued to their television sets, and watching anxiously from the forward most point of their living room chairs.

They were here, captivated, by the images of a nation's dreams finally coming true - a broadcast all the way from the moon to here.

Ask anyone where they were on 'that day' and they will recall with a most brilliant clarity.

Ask any little 'space dreaming' boy - and they will tell you just exactly what they were feeling.

And yet, somewhere also out in the world, speechwriterWilliam Safire, was tasked to imagine the worst case scenario.

Here is the memo he wrote for then President Nixon to read in the 'event of a moon disaster.' Luckily, this memo was never needed.

So tell me then, where were you on that day?

To: H. R. Haldeman
From: Bill Safire

July 18, 1969.



Fate has ordained that the men who went to the moon to explore in peace will stay on the moon to rest in peace.

These brave men, Neil Armstrong and Edwin Aldrin, know that there is no hope for their recovery. But they also know that there is hope for mankind in their sacrifice.

These two men are laying down their lives in mankind's most noble goal: the search for truth and understanding.

They will be mourned by their families and friends; they will be mourned by the nation; they will be mourned by the people of the world; they will be mourned by a Mother Earth that dared send two of her sons into the unknown.

In their exploration, they stirred the people of the world to feel as one; in their sacrifice, they bind more tightly the brotherhood of man.

In ancient days, men looked at the stars and saw their heroes in the constellations. In modern times, we do much the same, but our heroes are epic men of flesh and blood.

Others will follow, and surely find their way home. Man's search will not be denied. But these men were the first, and they will remain the foremost in our hearts.

For every human being who looks up at the moon in the nights to come will know that there is some corner of another world that is forever mankind.


The President should telephone each of the widows-to-be.


A clergyman should adopt the same procedure as a burial at sea, commending their souls to "the deepest of the deep," concluding with the Lord's Prayer.


Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Date a Girl Who Reads. (reprint)

You Should Date a Girl Who Reads. — by Rosemarie Urquico 

Date a girl who reads. Date a girl who spends her money on books instead of clothes, who has problems with closet space because she has too many books. Date a girl who has a list of books she wants to read, who has had a library card since she was twelve.

Find a girl who reads. You’ll know that she does because she will always have an unread book in her bag. She’s the one lovingly looking over the shelves in the bookstore, the one who quietly cries out when she has found the book she wants. You see that weird chick sniffing the pages of an old book in a secondhand book shop? That’s the reader. They can never resist smelling the pages, especially when they are yellow and worn.

She’s the girl reading while waiting in that coffee shop down the street. If you take a peek at her mug, the non-dairy creamer is floating on top because she’s kind of engrossed already. Lost in a world of the author’s making. Sit down. She might give you a glare, as most girls who read do not like to be interrupted. Ask her if she likes the book.

Buy her another cup of coffee.

Let her know what you really think of Murakami. See if she got through the first chapter of Fellowship. Understand that if she says she understood James Joyce’s Ulysses she’s just saying that to sound intelligent. Ask her if she loves Alice or she would like to be Alice.

It’s easy to date a girl who reads. Give her books for her birthday, for Christmas, for anniversaries. Give her the gift of words, in poetry and in song. Give her Neruda, Pound, Sexton, Cummings. Let her know that you understand that words are love. Understand that she knows the difference between books and reality but by god, she’s going to try to make her life a little like her favorite book. It will never be your fault if she does.

She has to give it a shot somehow.

Lie to her. If she understands syntax, she will understand your need to lie. Behind words are other things: motivation, value, nuance, dialogue. It will not be the end of the world.

Fail her. Because a girl who reads knows that failure always leads up to the climax. Because girls who read understand that all things must come to end, but that you can always write a sequel. That you can begin again and again and still be the hero. That life is meant to have a villain or two.

Why be frightened of everything that you are not? Girls who read understand that people, like characters, develop. Except in the Twilight series.

If you find a girl who reads, keep her close. When you find her up at 2 AM clutching a book to her chest and weeping, make her a cup of tea and hold her. You may lose her for a couple of hours but she will always come back to you. She’ll talk as if the characters in the book are real, because for a while, they always are.

You will propose on a hot air balloon. Or during a rock concert. Or very casually next time she’s sick. Over Skype.

You will smile so hard you will wonder why your heart hasn’t burst and bled out all over your chest yet. You will write the story of your lives, have kids with strange names and even stranger tastes. She will introduce your children to the Cat in the Hat and Aslan, maybe in the same day. You will walk the winters of your old age together and she will recite Keats under her breath while you shake the snow off your boots.

Date a girl who reads because you deserve it. You deserve a girl who can give you the most colorful life imaginable. If you can only give her monotony, and stale hours and half-baked proposals, then you’re better off alone. If you want the world and the worlds beyond it, date a girl who reads.

Or better yet, date a girl who writes.

A Little Something About Love.

When I was growing up, I wanted desperately to learn a foreign language. I had dreams of traveling to far away places, exploring new lands and settling in to the most perfect conversations. I used to beg my Mom to take me to the local library so that I could check out the foreign language dictionaries. I would spend hours flipping through the pages, picking out words and deciding upon 'just the right order.'

And then, just out of elementary school, I failed French class—twice. And just like that, my foreign language dreams were shattered.

"Why don't you try something else?" my teachers would ask.

And, even though I nodded softly in return—in my heart, there was just no way I would be giving up that easily.

And then I met Mrs. Li. Mrs. Li was a Chinese teacher at our local school, I met her on a break from English class. I mean, how could she miss me—as I sat outside her door each day, pretending to otherwise be engaged.

But, she could see what was in my heart. Good teachers have a way of seeing straight past our 'veils.'

"Why don't you come in and try today?" she offered, as she motioned me closer to the door.

When I explained my past failures, she simply smiled and said, " can not fail at learning, you must learn first to look at things the right way."

And with that, she took out her pen, and drew the character for "love" on my spiral bound notebook.

"This is love," she explained. "It's a picture, you see. Top part is 'zhua'...means 'to hold.' Second, you see the 'roof' - that represents 'family.' Now you see, third part - is 'xin', means 'heart.' The heart is always in the center. Last part, 'you' - means, 'friendship.' Friendship ties all of it together. In Chinese, the most important part is always at the center. So you see the 'heart' is most important. Now, what do you think this means?"

"Love?" I asked timidly...expecting to be wrong.

"That's right! This is love...and heart ties everything together."

And just like that, it all made sense.

She was right, you know - in order to learn, we must first understand.

I later learned that my failures at French was to be expected. You see, when I was a very small girl my mother forced me to learn piano. And Chinese characters, it turns out, look a bit like those little notes on a sheet of music.

Turns out, I'm pretty good at Chinese. Thank you, Mrs. Li.

I Can't Believe I'm Going to Post This.

(as shared to me by a friend)

Years ago, the Seattle Symphony was doing Beethoven's Ninth under the baton of Milton Katims.  

At this point you must understand two things:  

1.  There's a long segment in this symphony where the bass viols don't have a thing to do.  Nothing.  Not a single note for page after page, and,

2. There used to be a tavern called Dez's 400 right across the street from the Seattle Opera House, favored by local musicians.

It was decided that during this performance, after the bass players had played their parts they'd quietly lay down their instruments and leave the stage rather than sit on their stools looking (and feeling) dumb for twenty minutes.  
Well, once they got backstage, someone suggested that they trot across the street and have a few brews. After they had downed the first couple rounds, one said, "Shouldn't we be getting back?  It'd be awfully embarrassing if we were late."

Another, presumably the one who had suggested this excursion in the first place, replied, 

"Oh, I anticipated we could use a little more time, so I tied a string around the last pages of the conductor's score. When he gets down to there, Milton's going to have to slow the tempo way down while he waves the baton with one hand and fumbles with the string with the other."
So they had another round and finally returned to the Opera House, a little tipsy by now.  However, as they came back on stage, one look at their conductor's face told them they were in serious trouble.  

Katims was furious!

And why not? After all, it was the bottom of the Ninth, the score was tied, and the basses were loaded. 


Want To Be In a New Music Video?

Well, now's your chance!

A dear friend has just created a musical masterpiece which shows how we all overcome obstacles, and break free of life's challenges. 

Join the celebration ...whether you are a biker, dancer, athelete or chess master... it's time to show how you strive to be you

But most of all, it's your way of joining this amazing effort to show and share your love and inspiration with this world. 

Send me a direct message for details ->

And, here's a little something to help you get in the video mood. 

Heartbreaking Images from Oklahoma.

“The emotion that can break your heart is sometimes the very one that heals it...” ― Nicholas Sparks

Please continue to send all of your love today. Death toll is expected to rise to 91, with many elementary school children among the victims.

May our attention today be that of unconditional love and healing.


Monday, May 20, 2013

A Little Something About Us Humans.

"All human beings most have as their point of origin a concern for people's welfare and a desire to contribute to human happiness. Otherwise, the human race will just continue to stumble aimlessly, from darkness into darkness. If this happens, what use to us then economics, politics, and culture? Everything depends on people , on their character, on the development of their humanity."

There is much to do in each day and for this world. And it has nothing to do with accumulation of stuff and of wealth. Neither does it concern one ego, or one self over the other.

It has everything to do with being present for others, of taking notice of their suffering - and of extending yourself in service to those whose hearts desperately need you.

Sadly we feeling in helping others we are causing ourselves to become more vulnerable. I suppose in a manner of speaking this is true ~ because, in order to be here help...and to truly love...means that we are opening our hearts to an unconditional exposure.

And sure, sometimes that can be a bit of an unsettling adjustment...but, I promise you in the end it's fully worth it.

In helping others, I am helping myself.

In loving others, I become love.

And when it is that we may all "become love"...well then, won't this planet be so much better off because of it?

Namaste my most beautiful friends ~ today, my self and my love extend to you.

My Love for You This Day.

“Through my love for you, I want to express my love for the whole cosmos, the whole of humanity, and all beings. By living with you, I want to learn to love everyone and all species. If I succeed in loving you, I will be able to love everyone and all species on Earth... This is the real message of love.” ― Thich Nhat Hanh

That's just what love is, you see.

It's not something to be owned or possessed. 

And, love isn't a small trinket to be tucked away into one of life's many pockets. 

Rather, love is a much greater 'gift' for our souls to experience.

Through it, we learn that hearts can not be blasted open ~ instead, you must "coax and nurture it open, like the sun does to a rose.” 

So, when it is that you feel a bit 'distracted' by loving,just  remember, 

"Learning how to love is the goal and the purpose of spiritual life..." — Lama Surya Das
Namaste on this, a most beautiful day ~ 

Sunday, May 19, 2013

A True Friend.

“Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: "What! You too? I thought I was the only one.” ― C.S. Lewis

A true friend is someone with whom you can share,

" are all of my shattered, most broken up pieces...these fractured fragments of life, and life's experiences. And, I love you enough to share them with you...and I trust you enough to know that it will always be ok."

And, I'm so very grateful that a friend like this has been sent my way.

A Little Morning Dance and a Little Something to Make You Smile.

“Every day brings a chance for you to draw in a breath, kick off your shoes, and dance.”
Oprah Winfrey
 There's nothing better than a little silly dance in the earliest part of the earlier morning.

And, particularly when dancing helps to make your heart smile.

So, silly...and dance till your whole heart is content.

Because, feeling silly is something I promise you will love.

And always remember, 
“Those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music.” ― Friedrich Nietzsche
So, today, I shall dance...because dancing silly helps to make my whole heart smile.

Morning Decaf With a Biker.

“I like my coffee black, my beer from Germany, wine from Burgundy, the darker, the better. I like my heroes complicated and brooding, James Dean in oiled leather, leaning on a motorcycle. You know the color. ("Ode to Chocolate")” ― Barbara Crooker

I had decaf with a biker this morning—an ominous and quite surly sort of fellow.

We talked about life and politics and things...and then he bought me one of those miniature egg sandwiches

And, then I asked him about all of his military patches, I was most interested in the purple heart he had pinned to his hat.

"I got that in 'nam," he said somewhat matter of factly "pulled three of my buddies off of a field"

What he didn't include were the words, "under heavy enemy fire"—because,
real heroes never really have to.

So, I asked him directly, "How did you do that? What went through your head?"

To which he replied,

"Not much, I was stoned out of my gourd."

Apparently, his buddies look a bit like smooth leather balls on a high school football field.

This is sometimes how I spend mornings. People sometimes ask me, "Where do you find your inspiration?"

To which I replied,

"Inspiration is all around me...including a simple cup of morning decaf."

namaste on this, a most beautiful day. 

Saturday, May 18, 2013

If You Want to Live in Paradise.

“...The beauty and mystery of this world only emerges through affection, attention, interest and compassion; if you want to live in the paradise where happy mares and stallion live, open your eyes wide and actually see this world by attending to its colors, details and irony.” ― Orhan Pamuk, My Name is Red

There is a robin building a nest in the tree just outside my window this morning.

I have been watching for the last hour as she carefully selects the next bit of straw and string...back and forth, forth and back...weaving her new find in between each layer of softened fibers.

These are the best morning ever—when something as simple as looking out one's window in the morning yields a glimpse into a world you've not had the pleasure yet of ever knowing.

Paradise is there, you know—when we just take a moment to slow down, sip and breathe.

She's out there just outside your 'window' pane—beckoning you each day to come nearer. 

Friday, May 17, 2013

I Met a Cow Today.

“Some people talk to animals. Not many listen though. That's the problem.” ― A.A. Milne

I met a most beautiful cow on my ride today.

Her eyes were large and soulful, and she was just the most perfect shade of 'caramel'.

And though, at first she tried to feign indifference—still, I could see her peeking up at me through the slats in the fence.

"Oh, you're so beautiful," I called out to her—and just like that, with a little bit of praise, all of those 'fences' were gone.

She moved her snout over for a most careful whiff—checking, I'm sure, to see if any treats had been missed.

I gave her some clover that was just out of reach—and thought to myself what a wonderful treat.

I mean, how lucky is that—that our lives are filled with these most magnificent moments?

The Power of Words.


“Of all sad words of tongue or pen, the saddest are these, 'It might have been.” ― John Greenleaf Whittier

I read through some of my older blog postings just the other day—and was amazed at what I had found.

You see, some many months back I had created a 'bucket list' of sorts—a few words to help to set my sails to on days when I felt the wind would soon be gone.

And though, it seemed a silly exercise at first—in time, I began to fully realize the importance of placing a little hope into all of our words.

There's a great power in just a few simple words.

They have the power to delight us, and offer us hope, as they draw us deeper and deeper into the depths of our souls.

Words are to be savored and sipped with life's feast—their cadence bringing life to the "pattering of rain as it breaks through the trees."

They are horrifying, wonderful, tantalizing, and exquisite—and they are the building blocks and mortar of these dreams we may visit.

But these words are special—as they carry the greatest meaning of all.

Because, these words right here served as my 'compass' during the storm.

Indeed, there is a great power in a few simple words—and today, I've just a few more to add to this list.

Because, this life is about living and not ever giving up.

Bonus—Just a few of my favorite words:

“I ate them like salad, books were my sandwich for lunch, my tiffin and dinner and midnight munch. I tore out the pages, ate them with salt, doused them with relish, gnawed on the bindings, turned the chapters with my tongue! Books by the dozen, the score and the billion. I carried so many home I was hunchbacked for years. Philosophy, art history, politics, social science, the poem, the essay, the grandiose play, you name 'em, I ate 'em.” Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451 

Like elephant journal on Facebook.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Compassion is a Verb.

Love this, and these few short quotes on kindness: 

“Guard well within yourself that treasure, kindness. Know how to give without hesitation, how to lose without regret, how to acquire without meanness.” ― George Sand

“Tenderness and kindness are not signs of weakness and despair, but manifestations of strength and resolution.” ― Kahlil Gibran

“I would rather make mistakes in kindness and compassion than work miracles in unkindness and hardness.”
Mother Teresa

“We must learn to regard people less in the light of what they do or omit to do, and more in the light of what they suffer.” ― Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Letters and Papers from Prison 

“One of the most spiritual things you can do is embrace your humanity. Connect with those around you today. Say "i love you", "i'm sorry", "i appreciate you", "i'm proud of you"...whatever you're feeling. Send random texts, write a cute note, embrace your truth and share it...cause a smile today for someone else...and give plenty of hugs.” ― Steve Maraboli

“We cannot tell the precise moment when friendship is formed. As in filling a vessel drop by drop, there is at last a drop which makes it run over; so in a series of kindnesses there is at last one which makes the heart run over.” ― Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451 

“One man practicing kindness in the wilderness is worth all the temples this world pulls.” ― Jack Kerouac, The Dharma Bums
“If a person seems wicked, do not cast him away. Awaken him with your words, elevate him with your deeds, repay his injury with your kindness. Do not cast him away; cast away his wickedness.”
Lao Tzu

Nothing,' wrote Tolstoy, 'can make our life, or the lives of other people, more beautiful than perpetual kindness.” ― Gretchen Rubin
“When you find yourself in need of spiritual nourishment, it is in the opportunities to serve others that you will find the abundance you seek.” ― Steve Maraboli

“A clever mind is not a heart. Knowledge doesn't really care, wisdom does.” ― Benjamin Hoff, The Tao of Pooh

The Kindness Boomerang.

“I hope you will have a wonderful year, that you'll dream dangerously and outrageously, that you'll make something that didn't exist before you made it, that you will be loved and that you will be liked, and that you will have people to love and to like in return. And, most importantly (because I think there should be more kindness and more wisdom in the world right now), that you will, when you need to be, be wise, and that you will always be kind.”  ― Neil Gaiman

This is a short film with a most simple message - that is of the impact of kindness, on this...a sometimes weary world.

What you do matters - and no matter how big or how small.

Even the simplest act of extending a hand, is enough to make the love in this world grow.

Try to do a little something today ~ say hello to a stranger, and smile back in return...then, hold that door of kindness open, just long enough for the next guy to follow through.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Your Quote of the Day.

"Four and a half billion years ago, the Earth was a flaming molten ball of rock and can sing opera."

We are magnificent beings, you and I—even in this, our most imperfect we stand here still, yet today, rising above when all else has failed.

And in our hearts, we hold dear humanity's greatest gift—a brilliant compassion that shines deep from within our very soul.

Compassion is our journey and it is our perfection.

And likewise, it can help shape molten goo into opera.

namaste, my most beautiful friends ~ much, much love to you on this day.

What if I Forget How to Write?


Sometimes I have the silliest of fears.

It started quite innocently with a monster under the bed. But as I grew older, these thoughts grew bigger, as well.

Today, I was worried that I might someday forget forever how to write.

I mean, what if tomorrow all of this inspiration was gone? And, what if these words just stopped flowing along?

I suppose, it's a panic that every writer feels from time to time, and every once and awhile and again—that one day, this magnificent gift of inspiration—might just suddenly and forever disappear.

It reminded me of the very first time I brought my newborn son home from the hospital. He had such a rough first few days living in this brand new world—locked away in the farthest corner of a dimly lit Neonatal ICU. And I—a new Mother, and not yet knowing what to do—spent every single moment, of every waking hour...slipping my fingers through that tangled mess of wires just to simply touch his hand.

And, when that day finally came, when I was able to bring my baby home—I was so overwhelmed with gratitude for this gift of a most precious human life, that I literally spent every single night of those first few months sleeping with my fingers resting gently on his tiny little chest.

You see, I was so terrified that something might happen to snatch this gift suddenly away, that I barely slept more than a few hours, if at all, with each passing night.

It was the very first time I had faced the reality of impermanence—the impermanence of life and life's most special moments.

Writing has become such a joy for me—that, in some ways, I feel a bit like a new mother all over again...carefully protecting this amazing gift that has been so graciously shared with me.

And, when inspiration stops me dead in my tracks, urging me desperately to copy down these few short words...before the magic of this thought is forever lost?

That's when I find myself clinging desperately to that one thing I feel might soon be gone.

Perhaps, that is why I am here tonight with my fingers resting gently on inspiration's chest?

And, as I look over to my son standing here next to me today—my heart is immediately calmed, and my fears simply melt away. In him I see all of the love and life's lessons we've shared along this way—radiating brilliantly for all of this world to see. And in his eyes, I see a bit of my own spirit shining right back to me.

Everywhere we turn we are faced with impermanence...but in some way, our spirit always lingers on.

I just hope that mine may live on through my words.