Your Weekly Diversion, Week 31

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Photo courtesy For Arts Sake Boutique

Week 31. Just when you don’t think things can’t get worse, all hell breaks loose and people die. Then the spin machine wobbles, spitting out more crazy, and causing many to scratch their heads nearly bald. As a Buddhist, I was asked recently by a reader of this blog if I hate the president. I’ve been taught, as you probably have, to hate bad actions but not the actor. I said no, but sometimes I know I say that I do, so troubled am I by his demeanor, utterances, actions and incitement to anger and violence. It’s a process.

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Sign available from Rustic Decorating

What should we do with our negative emotions felt towards other beings, especially public figures who seem to be sending our civilization and the world hurtling toward mutually assured destruction? I practice Metta meditation daily, and sometimes, not as often as I wish, I remember to send it toward Washington. I also have used the 12-Step practice of praying for those towards whom I feel resentment for two weeks, three if necessary, until the resentment eases. I offer thanks to the person who reminded me through that question that I have a spiritual obligation to exercise the practices I know. Both Tricycle magazine and Lion’s Roar have run features in the past eight months offering Buddhist perspectives on this very dilemma.

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So, first distraction right here! Do you know your Ayurvedic mind type? Check this out to learn more.

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Graphic courtesy of Devon Hosford

Organic or not? Fooducate explains that for the most part, organic is better.

Smiles are very good for you. They’re great to see and great to get, and wonderful to give. Some say smiling is healing. Here’s an exercise from Karl Duffy that really works.

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Photo from stoffy/Reddit

Animals provide wonderful examples of joy in action. Portraits of dogs at the beach illustrate my point. And this video of a bunch of dogs, and a cat, enjoying a swim is exhilarating to see, and “Happy” by Pharrell makes the perfect sound track!

 

Namasté

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Grain of The Past

This poem and powerful image certainly speak to my feelings about these dangerous times. Thank to Na’ama Yehuda for taking the time to share them.

Na'ama Yehuda

Poland OAsifPhoto: O. Asif

May the grain of the past

Tell the story.

May history speak

Of the truth

That must

Never be buried

Like heads in the sand,

Or in hesitant voices

That won’t take a stand.

May the stain of the past

Be the guide to these times

So no alleged ‘fine men’

Torch-lit hate in the night

Once again propagate

Let return

Evil’s blight.

For The Daily Post

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Your Weekly Diversion, Week 30

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Photo courtesy of Julia Webb, flickr.com

This is Week 30 of my chronicle of changing times, except I’m not really doing that, just offering a brief general observation, followed by interesting diversions to edify my readers, as they have edified me.

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Sylvia Boorstein, photo from onbeing.org

This week’s observation: as we are stunned by the “fire and fury” and “locked and loaded” off the cuff blurts spewed Eastward and globally to our collective potential peril, it helped me to read what Karl Duffy posted this morning on his daily Mindful Balance blog, a quote from esteemed Buddhist teacher and psychologist, Sylvia Boorstein, starting with this:

The line from the Dhammapada, a compilation of sayings attributed to the Buddha, that seems the best expression of wisdom, is: “Anyone who understands impermanence, ceases to be contentious.”

Impermanence means that whatever is going on right now will change, for better or for worse or in some other way we cannot foresee. So being freaked out by the crazy machinations of any world leader, East or West, is a waste of the limited precious moments of this life. Click on the link above and read what Sylvia Boorstein says about it.

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Having a home to call one’s own, be it transitional, rented or owned, is deemed essential to a healthy life. If you have land you can use, even if you don’t own that land, this house can be brought to the site and “built” in under 10 minutes. The company, Ten Fold Engineering maintains that a foundation is not required, just stable ground, and when the structure is towed away, it need leave no trace. The structure can even be completely off the grid. While not available for most of us yet, it’s an example of what can be done. The structures can be stacked and connected to form multiunit dwellings.

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Photo from calfinder.com

Homelessness is a serious problem in the United States. Over half a million individuals were counted as homeless in 2015, as this site details. They do report that the number of homeless people has declined, although my working in New York suggested otherwise. For more modest examples of housing one can build out of materials often seen as “trash” check out Calfinder, the videos here or Relax Shacks for plans and tons more information.

Another challenge can be having a home but no longer having access to one’s usual faculties if dementia robs one of speech. But, it’s not always as gone as it seems.

Let’s just remember, we are only one call away for someone who needs us, as Charlie Puth sings. Let us hope that they remember, too.

Check out this video on YouTube:

 

Namasté

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Your Weekly Diversion, Week 29

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On week 29, I’m wearying of the ongoing drama. Aren’t you? I guess the interviews with people who picked the current leader and still believe they did the right thing, that all their needs will be met, has done me in for now. So I’ll choose “Cake Boss” or “Waterfront Bargain Hunt” for now and leave the political punditry for another day.

Rice field

This week I want to bring a health threat to your attention. I have become aware that much if not most of the rice sold in North America contains high levels of arsenic. Arsenic is a carcinogen and very dangerous. The main reason it’s so high in rice is that in the American South and other areas where cotton was raised, arsenic was used as a pesticide and contaminated the soil. Those areas are also good for growing rice. Although pesticides with arsenic were banned in the US decades ago, the soil in these areas remains contaminated. The problem exists in many other rice-producing areas around the globe, too.

9/24/12 Daily Dose arsenic in rice CREDIT: Globe staff; iStockphoto

Dr. Michael Greger of the website Nutrition Facts has devoted a number of his videos to this topic. He urges against drinking rice milk or giving it to children. He said that crisped rice cereal isn’t safe for children, as it is probably the food highest in arsenic in a typical child’s diet. He warns against using brown rice syrup, a popular substitute for high fructose corn syrup in health store treats. Washing raw rice, as well as boiling it and then draining off the cooking water the way you cook pasta, greatly reduces the amount of arsenic in the cooked rice. And as you can guess, where the rice you buy was grown makes a huge difference. Consumer Reports addresses this issue as well. Both sites say the safest sources of rice are California, India and Pakistan because the arsenic levels are lowest in rice from these locales.

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Today we went food shopping at Aldi. Do you know about the Aldi stores? If not, see which Aldi store is closest to you and check it out. We have one here, and the prices are amazing and the quality of the products is first rate. I’ve shopped there three times in the past three weeks and still haven’t spent $100. That’s not per week. That’s adding the three trips together! I do stop elsewhere to pick up a few items they don’t carry, but that’s okay. They maintain low prices by not advertising or playing mood music, by charging for plastic bags so people bring their own, and charging a quarter to release a shopping cart from their corral, which you get back when you bring it back and connect it to the next one in line. They pay their employees pretty well and give decent benefits. Aldi plans to open 900 more stores in the US by 2022. They are in Europe as well as North America and are based in Germany.  The Aldi corporation also owns the more tony and well-known Trader Joe’s. Today I looked for safe rice, and they had a nice-sized bag of brown basmati rice from India, so I bought it.

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We’ll end with “Sunnier Days” by Diego Garcia. Let us enjoy the good in each of these days, and have faith that even sunnier days are ahead.

 

Namasté

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A to Z Challenge: F is for Ferns

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Here in Pocono Pines, Pennsylvania we have several kinds of ferns. 

Made with Repix (http://repix.it)

Sensitive Fern

The large leafed fern above is called a sensitive fern, or Onoclea sensibilis. Some variations have finer fronds. The name comes from early American settlers who noticed that frost quickly killed them. It is also sometimes referred to as the bead fern.

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New York Fern

Around my garden Buddha are fine examples of the New York Fern or Thelypteris novoboracensis. The orange flower to the right of the statue is called Spotted Touch Me Not, or Impatiens capensis, also called orange jewelweed. Below is a large roadside expanse of New York Ferns.

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Pocono Pines features shady lanes and roadways, thanks to the tall pines and lush deciduous forests up here. Ferns love and thrive in shade and in damp and swampy soil, so our woods and roadsides that are crisscrossed by streams and runoffs are filled with them.

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Inspired by my WordPress friend Ruth, I decided to take the A to Z Challenge around my little town of Pocono Pines, Pennsylvania. In the 2010 Census, the population was 1,409 persons. We have one gas station, an art gallery/gift store with wonderful artisan wares, a magisterial court office, an ice cream stand, a pizza place, a family restaurant, one bank, several real estate offices, a US post office, a produce stand, an elementary school, a public library, several residential developments, and a number of other businesses. We are located in the Pocono Mountains of northeastern Pennsylvania, about 35 miles from New Jersey and two hours from New York City. We have two lakes and are 1,805 feet above sea level

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Your Weekly Diversion, Week 28

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Week 28 brought us to new lows in American politics. We saw a brand new White House staff appointee let loose a crude rant against several others in gutter terms we’ve never heard or read in public media before, leading one of them to resign and with more dignity than one might expect. We heard the so-called leader of the free world deliver a grossly inappropriate political screed at a Boy Scout Jamboree, to an organization explicitly apolitical and determined to remain so. Their president later disavowed the screed and regretted allowing him to speak. Enough said.

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Smudging with sage and other herbs is a wonderful way to clear the air, literally. I’ve used it in my office on occasion and in my home when a cleansing vibe was called for. At work I’ve always used a leaf of sage clasped in the jaws of a binder clip, moving about the room rapidly so that my colleagues and staff don’t fear the building is on fire. There’s a no-candles policy, so I suspect smudging would be taboo if I asked. This article expanded my awareness, and perhaps will yours. I’m also looking for an abalone shell.

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This morning I got my first look into the interior of the new Tesla 3 and figured you’d enjoy seeing it, too. It’s $35K, which I agree is a lot, but we just bought a loaded Hybrid Toyota RAV4 for a bit more than that. I have two more years to pay on my Prius and when I’m ready for another new car, I’ll consider a Tesla.

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This recipe for a vegan reuben sandwich yielded the most delicious flavor I’ve ever had in a vegan sandwich, bar none. And I’ve enjoyed yummy vegan sandwiches in some of the best New York vegan restaurants. I loved non-vegetarian reubens years ago, and I’ve missed them. I’ve seen recipes for homemade seitan flavored with pickle juice to get that tangy corned beef taste, but it takes too long to make compared to this one. The recipe calls for marinated tempeh, sauerkraut, rye bread, homemade Russian dressing, and vegan Swiss cheese. It makes two wonderful, filling sandwiches that even an omnivore would scarf down.

Now that I’ve tweaked your taste buds and distracted you nicely from the headaches of the day, here’s some toe tapping thanks to the amazing Steve Martin and Edie Brickell.

Namasté

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Your Weekly Diversion, Week 27

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House number from eBay.uk

Today in the midst of Week 27, we are also in the midst of summer. I have finally been able to harvest vegetables from my garden, planted late, only on May 27. I picked tomatoes, Swiss chard, cilantro, lemon basil and young scallions, And as I am trying to get in more exercise, I walked to our community garden, which is a good ten minute, brisk walk from the house.

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I must admit that in part I am motivated to be more active again, since being sick a couple of months ago, by my new  Apple Watch, as I just knew I would. I waited for over a year for this one, wanting the Apple Watch 2 so I can wear it in the pool and ocean. I’m enjoying Minnie’s cute voice telling me the time randomly as well as when I ask for it, and so far I like this clock face best. Her toes tap and eyes blink with the seconds and her hands point to the minute and hour. There are great fitness reminders. I selected the breathing option, so once an hour I’m reminded to take seven deep breaths during a one-minute breathing break. I’m also reminded to stand up at least once per hour, which I usually do, but it’s a great reminder when reading and writing, because I can sit virtually motionless forever, and when I finally stand up, I’m so stiff and achy. I like that breaking news items, texts and weather and traffic warnings I get on my iPhone come through on my wrist. I just have to silence the watch when seeing patients to avoid unnecessary distractions

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Looking for a crafts project, for yourself or with your older children? Why not make some cool paper stars! This blog gives step by step instructions, in Danish. Fortunately there’s a yellow “translate” button on the lower right so you can change the text into English and a number of other languages.

I love cat people. When I see a car decorated with cat stickers, it makes me feel good.

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This story exemplifies why I think most cat people are really cool.  And here’s a sticker I’d be willing to put on my car, and those who really know me know why!

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We’ve been enjoying listening to the Coffee House channel, Channel 14, on SiriusXM Radio.

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My cousin turned me on to it  when I visited her in Tennessee last month. One artist I’m enjoying is John Mayer, and “In The Blood” is one of my favorite songs of his. In a live version he explains that it came to him, lyrics and melody, in only seven minutes. I love the tune, but the words are sobering. It seems to highlight the nature versus nurture debate. Are we destined to repeat the characterological traits and mistakes of our parents, or with insight can we chart our own course? As a clinician, a psychodynamically trained psychologist, I believe the latter, but there are plenty of examples of the former. I chose this version of “In The Blood” because the audio is of a much better quality than the live ones I found, and it gives the lyrics which are truly food for thought.

 

Namasté

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