Your Weekly Diversion, Week 43

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On Week 43, I’m departing from my usual self-imposed prohibition of disseminating  specific political information. The week has been filled with newsy highs and lows, the lowest lows being when supporters of an accused pedophile cite the Bible to justify this skeevy, illegal and unethical behavior, and many use that, “If these allegations are true…” meme which discounts the words of the accuser. Blame the victim. Hadn’t we gotten better than this? I guess not. And the accused is blatantly trying to raise money off the story!

But then there’s another low that rips into the surface of decency and scars all who consume and buy into it: Minutes after the horrific mass shooting in Sutherland Springs, Texas, Russian bots apparently promulgated the falsehood that the shooter was a member of the anti-fascist group “Antifa” on social media, and it was spread for hours before being taken down.

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And now for our diversions. First, to cleanse the palate of the foregoing paragraphs, here are some words to live by.

 

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Another diversion that may have relevance in your life: It’s Open Enrollment season in the US for health insurance. This is the time individuals and families can shop for health insurance plans and switch to plans better than what they have now, or sign up for the first time. This includes Medicare recipients as well as those shopping for commercial plans. Several people I know have reported to me that, despite the dire predictions, they’ve gotten plans that are saving them money and still provide good coverage. Medicare recipients can elect to switch to Medicare Advantage plans that may save them money but vary greatly from state to state. It’s supposed to take a lot of the stress and cost out of medical costs not paid by Medicare, which includes the 20% and can include deductibles for a variety services and treatments. But the plans often dictate which healthcare providers their insureds can use, called “in network” providers and charge them more if they go out of network. As a psychologist I have had to turn down clients with some Medicare Advantage plans, while being paid by others. So listen and learn and ask around. Make some calls, go online and see what’s what. For all Medicare options, seniors and those on Social Security Disability can visit Medicare.gov, and most people under 65 should go to HealthCare.gov.

All is well with us, getting settled in our winter snowbird nest! Friends are visiting today and we look forward to showing them around. First stop will be Pinchers at Tin City, then a stroll down the ritzy 5th Avenue that leads right down to the beach. And then, who knows?

Yesterday we were eating lunch at our local Tropical Smoothie Café, and as usual they had great tunes playing. So I usually open my SoundHound app to see what we’re hearing. I have always loved this Duke Ellington song, “It Don’t Mean a Thing If It Ain’t Got That Swing” and Gabin does it up brown, as my dad would say. I hadn’t heard this version before, and I love it! Enjoy!

 

Namasté

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Your Weekly Diversion, Week 39

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It’s week 39 and while chaos reigns around the globe, our hearts bleed for those suffering from the wildfires in California. The only things worse than losing all your material possessions of house and home are losing a loved one or pet, or dying in a fire yourself. Too awful to imagine.

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Dr. John McDougall of Santa Rosa and his wife and family have loss everything but are all safe. Dr. McDougall has helped many unhealthy people lose weight and regain good health through a plant-based diet. He and his wife Mary have produced videos and published cookbooks as well as putting out free webinars to help people. Dr. McDougall’s Health and Medical Center offers brief residential programs in Santa Rosa. Dr. McDougall-brand soups and meals are on the shelves of most supermarkets and natural foods stores. We love their Garden Vegetable, even my omnivore husband. I consulted with him a few years ago when a very elderly patient of mine, knowing I was vegan, told me she wanted to switch to a vegan diet. He generously gave me of his time and made suggestions on how this might be safely accomplished, naturally with the cooperation of her primary physician. I received this email from him a couple of days ago:

Mary and I are well and with family. All our material possessions are lost. The same for Heather’s and Tiffany’s families.

Our years of struggle against the established thinking regarding nutrition and many medical treatments of patients will continue. The McDougall Program is alive and well and will run Programs (10-day and 3-day), conduct webinars, newsletters, etc., with as few interruptions as possible.

We are so fortunate that our lives were spared.

There are no authorized donation programs – Do not donate to any you may see.

We are humbled by the many offers of help. We may have many unexpected financial pressures, and if we decide to seek any monetary help from you, our friends, we will let you know.

John McDougall, MD

And now for some diversions!

Last week I shared about instructions for making a unicorn horn for Halloween. Here’s a link to directions for making a unicorn hat!

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People sometimes ask me, knowing I call myself a Buddhist, what’s the difference between Buddhism and Hinduism? The Venn diagram above might a bit hard to read on your device, so this article may be of help in seeing the differences and similarities between these two ancient world religions.

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Image from Pinterest

Do you have trouble decluttering your room, apartment or house? Lots of people do, especially those who struggle with obsessive-compulsive disorder of the messy variety. Apartment Therapy suggests it all starts with making your bed. Check it out!

For your musical diversion, and because I’m grateful for all those spared, and I feel that I too am lucky, here is Jason Mraz and Colbie Caillat with “Lucky”:

 

Namasté

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Your Weekly Diversion, Week 34

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Graphic courtesy of Donna Downey’s Simply Me

Week 34 and I almost forgot to post this week’s diversions. We are in the middle of a hurricane, except we are 1,380 miles away from our home there. I can only say I’m glad to be safe, and we hope that all our friends, neighbors and all beings down there are safe, too. Many have evacuated, but others who are dear to us decided to ride it out. We’ve been texting with friends and family in and from Florida, from Naples to LaBelle to Daytona to Sarasota to Miami. This is the worst hurricane to hit Southwest Florida in generations. At least that’s what Brian Williams on MSNBC just said. I believe it. Suddenly I don’t care about politics. Or dieting. Or finances. Or the family challenges that might grab me at another time. We are glued to the TV coverage of Irma. Right now Mike Bettis on the Weather Channel is leaning into the 95 mph wind blasting up US 41, also known as the Tamiami Trail. They have just reported that the water level has risen 5 feet in just 20 minutes, so the surge has begun, and fast.

 

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Graphic from Polyvore

It is truly an opportunity to practice the program. If not now, when?

We have heard from friends and family from Florida and all over the country wishing us well. We’ve heard from friends in Canada and India, and I’ve heard from several clients aware we have a home in Naples and spend about half the year there. It’s so wonderful to know we’re loved and cared about and I don’t have anything more to say. But this…

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Graphic courtesy of Not Salmon

I heard this poignant song on satellite radio this afternoon. Jessica Allossery, a beautiful, beautiful voice singing “I’ll Let You Go”. This is for all of you and all that we care about, remembering that everyone and everything that we love and care about is of the nature to change. That’s from Buddhism’s Five Remembrances.

 

Namasté 

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Your Weekly Diversion, Week 32

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Another week has passed since I began this weekly blog, 32 weeks in all so far. What do we know? Plenty, and you can learn all about it on your Apple News feed, Flipboard, Twitter, Facebook, television news, local or national newspaper (paper or digital) or whatever reliable source you prefer. Even late night talk shows often give important information. Please support real journalism, the kind that is well-researched, fact-based, honest, and a crucial pillar of our Democracy. Too many are getting all their news from non-journalistic sources such as extremist websites and blogs. We all deserve to exercise our rights to knowledge and truth.

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“Anger” from Pixar’s “Inside Out”

What do we do when we are forcefully misunderstood, misheard, misattributed, falsely accused, or otherwise blasted with anger by another? A knee-jerk reflex is to hit back in like anger. Oh, yeah? Did not! You’re wrong! What’s the matter with you? So how do we avoid the knee-jerk response? First, consider the context of the comment. Despite our first defensive reaction, we may find a grain or more of truth in what is being hurled at us so angrily. Have we offended the other person? If so, do we need to make amends? It may help to re-explain our position, decision, or perhaps even reshape our plans. Even if the accusations are totally baseless, blasting back angrily solves nothing and only pours more fuel on the bonfire.

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Lao Tzu, the ancient Chinese philosopher who is believed to have predated both Confucius and the Buddha, offers us four simple rules of personal conduct that can soften the hardest heart if the willingness exists:

  • Reverence for all Life
  • Gentleness
  • Natural Sincerity
  • Supportiveness

Try them, they really work!

The beautiful glass sculptures above are the creations of Artful Ashes, a company taking a tablespoon or so of a loved one’s ashes (human or animal) and incorporating them into small works of art. I stumbled on this on Pinterest and was surprised at how lovely they are. The white swirl is created by the ashes, and on the website they explain how carefully they track your sample to make sure the one you get contains the ashes you sent in.

I’ve been waiting for just the right week to end my post with this poignant tune by Paul McCartney. I bought the album “Memory Almost Full” years ago but had forgotten this song until I heard it recently when the Phillies honored the members of the team who have passed since their last Alumni Day. It really touched me.

Namasté

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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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Searching Like a Cod

This is a wonderful reminder that going with the flow is the better, less painful option and usually gets us where we need to go. And that is often right where we are.

Find Your Middle Ground

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When the innumerable searches are concluded,
The realization dawns that
The optimal place to be is
Where one already is.

It is an arrival at the place
Where there is no solid footing beneath,
The understanding of all things.

Until the conclusion,
The searcher is like
A cod asking directions to the ocean

~ Wu Hsin from “The Lost Writings” translated by Roy Melvyn

Wu Hsin’s insights into spirituality and Oneness always bring a smile.

It isn’t easy learning to go with the flow, until we stop asking for directions, and find the courage to be with no solid footing.

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Your Weekly Diversion, Week 24

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It’s week 24 and I’m in Tennessee watching my cousins and friends play gin rummy at my aunt’s 92nd birthday party. I bask in the warmth of family love. It helps to offset the insulting rhetoric that one who probably knows better is slinging toward folk who don’t deserve it. No people deserve to be insulted in schoolyard fashion, especially by the purported leader of their nation. Then someone shoots several of his former medical colleagues and kills one, and then kills himself, in a hospital where people are try to get well and live. Yikes!

Diversions on the way….

 

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Photo from pixabay.com

Are you interested in learning about Zen meditation? Norman Fisher explains it well in Lion’s Roar.

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Photo from Smitten Kitchen

This is the season for gardening and for grilling, and when you can combine a margherita pizza grilled outside with a salad of tomatoes and greens from your own garden, why wouldn’t you? We had a great Tennessee BBQ with my cousin’s husband serving as grillmaster, presiding over grilling hamburgers, artisan chicken sausages, and for the vegetarians, Fieldburgers, chipotle marinated tofu steaks and veggie skewers wth homegrown veggies. We didn’t grill any pizza, but the idea is really intriguing, so here’s how.

 

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A week or so ago, I covered the Danish concept of hygge,  what I interpret to include a rather enchanting sense of comfort, simplicity, beauty and cozy utility. There are many interpretations of hygge (pronounced “hoo-gah). While in an independent Tennessee bookstore filled with special finds, I found Meik Wiking’s book, pictured above.

And for some music to bring some hygge into your world, you might find this Hawaiian song by Kason Gomes helpful.

Namasté

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