Your Weekly Diversion, Week 22

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Graphic courtesy of Awaken Mindset

It’s been about 22 weeks since US Inauguration Day 2016, the life event that has propelled me into a weekly blog. This week has brought terrible heartache from the London fire, the hateful shooting of a Congressman and others ironically bringing both US political parties together as nothing has in a quite a while, more hostile deaths of US servicepersons in Afghanistan and elsewhere, and most recently the deadly collision of a US destroyer class ship with a huge Philippine cargo ship 56 miles off the coast of Japan, with the fate of 7 sailors currently unknown. Add to these tragedies the serious American legal issues mounting up daily and the subsequent angry tweets and contortions of logic and truth.

I’ve curated some really good diversions for you this week, and I hope you’ll find something you can use here! There is such beauty, peace and positive energy all around us despite the negativity and fear being sown far and wide as distraction and worse. Don’t let the dark distract you from the light which is always there.

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Hyyge House founder Alex Beauchamp has elevated eclectic, homey and welcoming style to a major thing, and her blog is filled with wonderful photos showing her exquisite, artistically appointed cottage in Topanga Canyon, near Malibu in Southern California. Every item in her home, indoors and out is well chosen and sweetly positive. I would happily live in any of the cottages and bungalows she has furnished in the hygge style. Her blog and Instagram could uplift your regular web itinerary.

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When you think of water balloon fights, perhaps you recall your mom or other scolding authority figure telling you not to do that, you could put an eye out. Or maybe you remember happily vicious wars, a flurry of waterlogged missiles pounding your opponents as you tried to dodge theirs and failed, both ending up soaked and exhausted when the last balloon was launched and wetly spent. Yes, water balloons can be very dangerous and probably should only be used with goggles, and all the rubber remains ought to be be gathered up so they don’t end up in the gullet of a bird or other creature. That said, here is a video of the craziest water balloon caper ever. Needless to say, don’t try this yourself. It could have ended very badly!

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Photo courtesy of Lion’s Roar magazine

What with all the daunting problems our planet faces right now and in the future of our kids and grandkids, our personal challenges and stresses, and the political climate in the US, UK and elsewhere that begets anger, fear and cynicism, a vulnerable person could burn out. If you’re a helping professional, one who bears witness to the trauma and suffering of others, and you don’t exercise adequate self care, your risk of burnout is great. Fortunately, burnout is preventable. Lions Roar magazine addresses this important issue here.

And here is your musical medicine for today, a powerful spiritual anthem for my time, and maybe for yours. My friend Ann Koplow recently ended her blog with a wonderful video. I listened in rapt delight. Then, as often happens when I visit YouTube I listened to another, and loved this one. You may need to watch it more than once to identify all the players. Hint: Clapton was clean shaven, or a least I think that was he! Listening on your Bluetooth speaker is highly recommended.

Namasté

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Your Weekly Diversion, Week 20

www.topiarygarden.co.uk

Week 20 in our parade of unbelievables. As I hear several times a week, if not more than once a day, you can’t make this stuff up.

Quick, let’s get to the diversions!

First I’m going to share with you two pictures I took in New York’s Greenwich Village.  Then I’m going to explain why the Village has been so near and dear to me.

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View of my therapy office through a ceramic mirror

 

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Statue of Mahatma Gandhi in Union Square Park, New York, sculpted by Kantilal B. Patel

Today, I was sorry to read in the New York Times that Bleecker Street of New York’s Greenwich Village has experienced a bust after years of being bustling and trendy. Once drawing crowds to the hangouts of the “Sex and the City” cast of HBO, the high-end shops and eateries have moved on. I first heard of Bleecker Street as a teenager listening to Peter, Paul and Mary. Mary Travers, a famous Village denizen, changed the lyrics of the traditional folk song “Freight Train” to sing,

“When I die please bury me deep, down at the end of Bleecker Street, so I can hear old Number Nine as she goes rolling by.”

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Photo by Chuck Kearns

As it happens, Mary Travers, who died of leukemia in 2009, is actually buried in Umpawaug Cemetery in Redding, Connecticut. I loved her clear voice, and I loved Peter, Paul and Mary and all their music. I owned every record and knew every word. I learned to play many of their iconic songs on the guitar. I saw them in concert several times and have Peter Yarrow’s autograph in the attic. When I moved to New York 25 years later, and then opened a private psychology practice in the Village, I was thrilled. I would walk down to Washington Square on my lunch hour and soak in the vibes. The beat poets, Burroughs, Ginsberg and Kerouac and others, used to hang out at a bar right down the street from my office, many years earlier, of course. The block where I practiced, University Place between 12th and 13th Streets, changed greatly in the 20-plus years I was there. Shops opened and closed. Two corner delis closed. Two parking garages closed. The iconic Bowlmor Lanes, a nightspot as well as a bowling alley, closed. New establishments opened. The hardware store on the next corner expanded to feature much fancy merchandise in addition to hammers and nails. Japonica, an excellent Japanese restaurant, closed, and several long months later reopened a block further down in a much smaller space. Eventually the entire block upon which my 10th floor west-facing office looked was razed with months of great noise and clouds of dust and dirt. A high-end condo building was going in as I closed the office to relocate it to the country last summer.

So the Village has changed. All of New York continues to change. Our Brooklyn neighborhood became so trendy and crowded with cars and grocery delivery vans that we sold out and moved to the country. A friend who lives in Soho told me today that her neighborhood is changing, too. “So many empty stores – more at the end of every month – and the ones that open tend to be totally uninteresting and useless to those of us living here.” But for me, New York, and especially the Village, will always hold magic, no matter how things change.

Here is your toe tapper for the week. Having been out of my usual bounce and vigor, it’s all I’ve got this time, but turn up the sound and enjoy:

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 5

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Our need for diversion continues, but so does the need for a bit of healthy reality testing. The world is watching a political circus unfolding in many places in the West as anger and prejudice against others less fortunate or just different seem to gain footholds against civility. The indomitable and inspiring Pope Francis speaks out against populism and xenophobia. To me, he embodies the Buddhist ideal of Metta, or loving kindness.

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Image courtesy of Imagen Subliminal

What would it be like to be immersed in translucent color, wandering through a colorful maze of visual intensity? This Chinese exhibit gives visitors that very experience.

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Image courtesy of musictreasures.com

The rest of the diversions I found for you this week were inspired by the Grammy Awards. Sure I found recipes, stories and other interesting things to share, but, music!

Did you see and hear Maren Morris win her Grammy with “My Church,” Best Country Solo Performance this year? I really enjoyed her fresh and courageous style.

Reading a list of awards given out before the broadcast, I saw that one of our national treasures, Willie Nelson, won a Grammy for Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album with “Summertime: Willie Nelson Sings Gershwin.”

Listening to a commercial, I heard this amazing song, “I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel To Be Free,” by Nina Simone, and while I do not recall what product was being advertised, the song really moved me. What a woman, what writing, and what a voice!

Namasté

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Opening Up to Learning

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Image from PNG Mart

Take a habit, tweak it a bit and open your world! When my habitual evening iPad crawl lost a regular haunt when the NBC News Breaking News app was put to bed for the last time on New Year’s Eve, I found some new haunts and my eyes opened anew.

A favorite haunt I still enjoy is Recolor. Here’s an image I colored this week, using my Apple Pencil:

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Recolor image colored by Shielagh

Recolor isn’t totally, freshly creative if you use their line drawings, but you can upload your own drawings and color those. The color palette in the free version is quite extensive, many with gradient effects such as those above. The creativity is in which colors you choose to put where. There are extra metallic and pearly ones, and more, that you can buy, but I haven’t wanted to buy any so far. I’m not a great one for in-app purchases for anything.

I still enjoy the daily New York Times Crossword and credit it with helping to keep my aging brain more agile than it might otherwise be. And I torture myself with “hard” level sudoku, usually resorting to “medium” and I soon lose interest.

But, back to the learning of new things!

I’ve been capturing interesting articles and saving them on Google Keep, which by the way is an amazing tool. This week I found the following:

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Photo by Todd Hido, New York Times

A feature on Dr. B J Miller in the New York Times Magazine fanned an ember in my being of working with death and dying, as I did for several years in an outpatient HIV-AIDS unit. His own painful life journey has formed the foundation of a most unusual and giving human being. This TED Talk with Dr. B J is worth checking out.

Not all my finds are as profound as the amazing work of  Dr. B J. Some are just delightful in their own right, or useful, or fun, or seriously instructive.

Now-13-year-old Grace Vanderwaal wowed me with her performance of an original composition on “America’s Got Talent.” Watch this one! She’s already on a rocketship to stardom.

On the blog Style by Emily Henderson I found her style quiz. She nailed me! How about you?

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Photo: Kaylyn Messer

Photographer Kaylyn Messer happened upon an exquisitely perfect circle of ice in a river.

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Blogs abound with how-tos but this one really intrigued me. Nika Rouss shows us how to paint a still life using a combination of stencils, sponged on colors, finger treatment, markers and more. Very cool!

As a psychologist who treats anxiety disorders, I found this short video on social anxiety to be very clear and even fun as it addresses this painful problem so many struggle with. In fact, I have found that for many alcoholics I’ve treated, disabling social anxiety often preceded their addiction. So when they get sober, that social anxiety may return with a vengeance and therefore needs to be understood and compensated for. It’s okay. Even though we believe ourselves to be in the spotlight, usually we’re all just bozos on the bus.

And now, because you’ve been so good at wading through my week’s discoveries, here’s a treat for your ears and those stompin’ feet!

Namasté

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Daruma or Bodhidharma: Early Zen Master

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This craggy early Zen Master, known as Daruma in Japan and Bodhidarma elsewhere in the Buddhist world, has been immortalized by Zen scholar Hakuin.

Learn more about the gifted monastic artist who painted Daruma and other Buddhist figures many times during his 15 years of artistic expression in this post at Buddhism Now https://buddhismnow.com/2016/05/01/the-sound-of-one-hand-paintings-and-calligraphy-by-zen-master-hakuin/

In the accompanying video at Buddhism Now and produced by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), curator Rob Singer gives the background and context of the artist Hakuin.

Namasté

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