Your Weekly Diversion, Week 18

 

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Week 18, and each day this week seems to have brought one Breaking News story after another. What do we do with the parry and thrust, the he said-he said, the weird, the loony, the scary and the unbelievable?  To paraphrase Bette Davis in “All About Eve”: Fasten your seatbelts. It’s going to be a bumpy fight.

So of course we need our diversions. Here goes. Mother Jones magazine says that we are turning to comfort foods to salve our fears and quell our anxieties.

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Some turn to Pinterest to ogle food porn, those succulent photos of cheesy macaroni casseroles, pans of iced cinnamon rolls, plates of pretty cookies, pots of spicy chili, and recipes for every imaginable ethnic cuisine or dietary plan, and every way to cheat you could possibly want. If you want to enjoy a meal and not go crazy off the dietary deep end, it helps to search “healthy smoothies” or “salads” or your desired way of eating, be it vegan, paleo, low-carb, plant-based, high-protein or what have you. Then the food porn is at least in your wheelhouse. Hmm, sorry for the mixed metaphor 🤔.

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It is during times like these when mind-fulness, focus on the experience of the here and now, is crucial. The projection into the future doom and gloom, the downfall of our democratic civilization, the climate meltdown of our planet home, a nuclear holocaust, and all the other scary prospects that the future might hold if this or that happens, is a kind of mental exercise that only brings suffering. We have enough suffering, or dukkha, in our lives as it is. The Buddha said that dukkha–suffering, is the First Noble Truth. So to learn to stay focused, meditation is a great help.

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Helping others can help lift us from a potential pit of despair. Suffering may be unavoidable, but it brings good karma to help alleviate it whenever we can. A dear friend of mine and his wife are helping to bring water to an arid part of Africa, a location where women and children have to carry heavy containers of water on their heads up hills just to cook and wash. If you would like to help the Abonse Pipeborne Water Project, they have a GoFundMe campaign on right now.

This week’s musical diversion comes to us from 1962 when cellist Yo Yo Ma performed for President and Mrs. John F. Kennedy and President Eisenhower after having been discovered by famed cellist Pablo Casals. His older sister played the piano to accompany this precocious 7-year-old boy’s amazing performance.

Namasté

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Your Weekly Diversion, Week 17

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Photo courtesy of pixabay.com

It’s hard to know where to begin this week. One’s consciousness can feel quite numbed and befuddled by current events, a sort of tennis match of Here! No, here! Head on swivel, rooting for the good guys, and annoyed, appalled by others.

Boy, do we need some diversions! I wish they all were more cheerful ones, but here’s what I have.

In a session this week a client and I discussed our concerns for the environment. I mentioned the Pacific Gyre Garbage Patch. Because this was unfamiliar to my client, I pulled up some images on my iPad and we discussed this (literally) growing phenomenon. Do you know about it? These images tell the tale.

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Image used with gratitude to h2odistributors.com

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Gyre illustration by Jacob Magraw-Mickelson

So what can we do? I’m sure you know the drill: Return – Reuse – Recycle. Try to do it with every bit of plastic that enters the home, not easy to do, and I have to say I still throw out cat litter in old plastic bags, and have other similar behaviors. But I believe it helps us to learn and know the consequences of our carelessness. We make regular trips to a recycling center in Pennsylvania, saving our items in big blue IKEA bags in the garage, because in our county recycling is still optional. In Florida our recycling is collected weekly at the curb by the county. We try to use and reuse every bag and container that makes it into our house before we recycle what we can. We take the plastic rings from 6-packs of seltzer and cut them so they can’t end up around a seal’s snout or turtle’s shell. I’m no paragon of environmental activism, but I try and I know you probably do as well. Just Google “pacific garbage gyre” and select “images”. What you see will sober the most profligate among us. Hopefully.

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Image courtesy of Hazelden Betty Ford 

An original manuscript of the Alcoholics Anonymous Big Book is coming up for auction, as this story in the New Yorker details. As a friend of Bill W, I found it quite informative. I’d wager that the Big Book has saved more lives and brought more into a state of spiritual awakening than all the finger wagging and booze-shaming ever did.

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Photo from Design Boom

I’d like to end on a note of serenity and beauty.  I found images of a new Buddhist shrine in China inspiring, and you can read the story here.

And here’s a little something from me to you (words from the book Making Space: Creating a Home Meditation Practice by Thich Nhat Hanh):

 

Namasté

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Your Weekly Diversion, Week 16

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The Sixteens above commemorate The Pixel Project’s “16 For 16” Campaign: “A campaign in honour of 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence while raising funds for the cause to end Violence Against Women.” Definitely worth it.

Ready for some diversion? Here’s what I’ve got for you this week. You’re worth it!

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Putting ourselves first is often wisest, especially when wishing to help others.  As we hear from a flight attendant on every airline flight, we must put the oxygen mask over our own nose and mouth before assisting our children or others around us. So when we neglect our own needs in the service of others, we will not be able to do it for long. We must refill our own cup if we wish to share generously with others. Here’s a good piece by Marc and Angel: An Open Letter to Those who Always Put Themselves Last. You’re worth it!

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Adachi Museum of Art in Yasugi, Shimane prefecture, Japan
日本語: 足立美術館。所在地は島根県安来市

One thing we must do for ourselves is cope as well as we can with stress. Avoiding stress is impossible, but drowning in it is usually avoidable. What can we do to minimize stress so it is less toxic and destructive to our lives and those who care about us and those who may need our help? We’re all worth it.

  • Breathe deeply and mindfully to reduce anxiety; it works!
  • Eat nutritiously and regularly; starvation is no virtue.
  • Sleep at least 6 hours every night, but no more than 8 is best.
  • Exercise at least 3 days a week and walk on the other days.
  • Practice your spiritual or religious beliefs sincerely and often.
  • Meditate, do yoga, pray or seek peace and beauty, as in the zen garden above.
  • Live your values, which means understanding what they are.
  • Give and receive love, affection and kindness freely.
  • Seek help for your own problems: therapy, medical treatment or expert advice.
  • Consider adopting a pet if your circumstances permit; they enrich our lives.
  • Don’t sweat the small stuff (most is), pick your battles and put down the bat.

Moses Sumney is a recent musical discovery of mine, thanks to a video in a GQ article about Brad Pitt. The article is good, and Moses Sumney is definely “Worth It.”

Namasté

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Your Weekly Diversion, Week 15

969 Number 15 - Print

Week 15, coinciding with the 100 Days. It feels as if I’ve gotten more done than usual.

In the past 100 days I have

  • Spent time with good friends and met new ones
  • Closed one home and reopened the other
  • Changed insurance companies with all that it entails
  • Gone to the gym and worked out 3 times a week
  • Found an eating plan that works for me to lose weight
  • Had two laser eye treatments
  • Gotten new glasses and now see amazingly well
  • Attended an excellent professional conference
  • Meditated every day
  • Written in my journal most days
  • Learned to let go and turn over what I can’t change
  • Spent time on the beach, toes happily in the sand and sea
  • Watched and identified many beautiful birds
  • Learned mahjong and Mexican Train
  • Collected shells and learned about them
  • Co-drove almost 1,400 miles
  • Complained about bad hotel rooms and obtained full refunds
  • Kept my business going through it all
  • And managed to blog every week

We didn’t have staff to do any of it, although we do have great people who help out with things we can’t do ourselves. I’m just an ordinary human being, married to another ordinary human being. And I know that you who read this have done as much or more than I have these past 100 days. After all, with nods to the Firesign Theater, singer Jill Detroit and friends in AA, we’re all just bozos on this bus.

Namasté

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Your Weekly Diversion, Week 14

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On this, week 14, I’ve been on the move, literally. So I will just share the diversions as best I can.

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Detroit Michigan Map Art Print by The Mighty Mitten, themightymitten.com

 

As you no doubt are aware, the iconic birthplace of the US auto industry, Detroit, Michigan has suffered a drastic and prolonged economic downturn that has led to a real estate crash and outmigration. So this story from the Guardian really is good news!

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Spring is here and therefore it’s getting close to garden planting time up north. I still have a lot of the heirloom seeds I bought last year so I’m going to see how they do. Some people order seed catalogs and pore over them during the winter. Others think about tactics. If the idea of making trellises for tomatoes and beans and other climbers instead of buying tomato cages and bright green bamboo sticks from a big box store appeals to you, try this.

And here is your toe tapper for this week. It’s a doozie and I enjoyed it even more than the original Freddie Mercury composition we loved as Queen performed it.

Namasté

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Your Weekly Diversion, Week 13

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Welcome to Week 13. My focus has been a lot closer to home this week. Somehow it just feels better that way. We are preparing to migrate north. Here are the best photos I took this week.

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Steve and Tex, a Biblical Naples sunset, Daisy and the Easter Bunny, flowers peeking through a box hedge, and our blooming magnolia.

We’re having a drought here now and the fire risk is very high. The lake’s water level is lower than we’ve seen during this season. We hear it’s supposed to begin raining nearly daily soon, and it sure seems like a good thing! When the wind blows across Florida from the east, we smell smoke and find little bits of ash on our cars. Right now the culprit is the Cowbell Fire near Alligator Alley. It’s over 30 miles away from us now, but sometimes we can see a column of brown smoke in the air. Hundreds of fire fighters and their equipment and other resources are battling the spreading blaze.

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Okay, take a deep breath and calm down. Hey, guess what? Research now validates what we who meditate have known forever: deep breathing is the best way to calm down. UPDATE: Wow, since I posted this, I just learned that my friend and fellow blogger Joan Rothchild Hardin had written an extensive post on the breath.

As we prepare to hit the road in a few days, let’s hope it’s not a hard road.

Yes, indeed, sweet young singers Lennon and Maisy help us pray that Hard Times Come No More.

Namastéimg_0154

Your Weekly Diversion, Week 12

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Graphic courtesy of Men’s Health magazine 

It’s week 12 of this weekly post, roughly corresponding with the recent change in leadership in the US. You won’t read specifics from me here by design, but the news is filled with the details. All I can say is, please choose your information sources wisely. There are extreme sites out there that conflate and contort reality to suit their base. Enough said.

Here’s your first diversion: I love those colorful veggie numbers above, and when I found the source, Men’s Health magazine, I read the piece. The idea is to have a 12-hour break between the last bite of one day and the first bite of the next. So if you had a dish of ice cream at 9pm, you would wait until 9am to have the next day’s breakfast. They cite research and recommend limiting eating to an 8-hour window.

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Buddha’s Diet, from Running Press

Buddha’s Diet by Tara Cottrell and Dan Zigmond recommends much the same eating window. While Buddhist monastics typically limit eating between dawn and noon, this book advises to limit eating to nine hours, and to do so mindfully and healthfully, but there are no lists of must-eats and must-nots. I have been following its guidelines now for several weeks and find it easy to do and beneficial in a number of ways. The morning does feel like a fast. Before that first meal, I drink decaf black coffee, decaf tea, seltzer and plain water, as much as I can, to stay hydrated. I do have caffeinated coffee if I really need it, but most of experts I’ve read say we’re better off without it. Plus, it dehydrates.

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Photo courtesy of National Geographic 

Is laughter really the best medicine as the Reader’s Digest always said? Could be. Author and former Saturday Review editor Norman Cousins reportedly cured himself of a serious illness by deliberate laughter, having Marx Brothers movies brought into his hospital room and giving in to deep belly laughs. There’s a lot out there on the subject, so Google it yourself. Now, enjoy reading about the mischievous Kea parrots of New Zealand who love to laugh. The second video on the page shows their playful resourcefulness. Good for a chuckle, too.

And for your listening pleasure, here is Angel Olsen with “Never Be Mine.”

 

Namasté 

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