Success

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She leaned her forehead against the cold metal of her locker, wondering what she should do next. Mrs. Carter said she could go home, but her mother would be at the hospital and her little brother would be at the day care. A bell rang and kids came streaming out of classroom doors and flowed past her laughing and talking, clutching their books, animated and unaware of her. The polished floors squeaked with the rubber of their sneakers. She turned away and fumbled with the lock, failing to get the combination right until the third try. As the door opened, her mirror swung into view and she saw her face. Skin pale and wan, eyes rimmed red, hair curling wildly as it always did, mouth grimly set and devoid of color. She pulled out her backpack and found her makeup bag. She grabbed the silvery pouch, shoved the backpack deep into the locker and slammed the door. Just as she turned on her heels to head for the girls’ bathroom, she bumped into someone.

“Sorry,” she mumbled.

“No prob,” said a towering guy with bad skin and a nice voice. “My bad.”

“It’s okay,” she said and tried to smile at the boy she’d never seen before. He wore a varsity jacket. Basketball. No surprise being he was so tall. “See you,” she added, hurrying to the bathroom to get out of the awkwardness.

“I sure hope so,” came the voice as she pushed open the door and almost ran in.

She set her makeup bag on the counter and took another look at herself. The pallor was gone and her cheeks were as pink as if she’d already put on her blusher. She leaned against the counter, wondering what she should do next. It wasn’t going to be an easy day. She put her hands through her long hair, combing the stubborn curls with her fingers. She’d been brought to the office to take a call from her mother. They had this stupid rule about cells in the classroom, and she’d had hers confiscated too many times to bring it out to check for texts or leave the ringer on.

Yesterday her dad had had brain surgery and they’d all been there, except for Tommy who was too little to be allowed in. Mom, her boyfriend Bill, her aunt Mary and Mom’s best friend Alice. Dad always said they’d had a friendly divorce, and she supposed this was proof. The doctor had come out in his green scrubs, just like on tv, cap on his head and mask down around his neck. The surgery was a success, he’d told them. They’d gotten the tumor and he had an excellent chance to recover fully.

Dad had looked really funny last night as they wheeled him from post-op to recovery, wearing what looked like a big white shower cap on his head. He’d smiled at her and she’d squeezed his hand, and he’d told them he felt great.

“See you, kid!” He’d said with that funny, crooked smile.

And then Mom was leaning in to give him a sort of hug and kiss him, and they’d all said, “See you!”

But that was yesterday. Today he wasn’t doing too well, Mom said with tears in her voice. Something had gone wrong. He was unconscious and they weren’t telling her anything but acting like it was really bad. His face was swollen, her mom had said.

“You can come,” she said, “but I don’t want you to feel you have to. If something at school today is important, stay. I’ll let you know if anything changes.”

She played that over as she put some gloss on her lips and pressed them together. Yeah right. If anything changed she’d be pulled out of class again. Forget that. And she took her things and walked out and headed for her locker. Opened it in a flash, stuffed the pouch into her backpack, swung it onto her shoulder, and slammed the locker closed.

She strode down the hall, oblivious to anyone else around, and out the front door of the school. The sun was shining fiercely. She rummaged into her backpack and pulled out her Metrocard and her cell.

“Mom? I’m coming up there. Tell Dad I’m coming, okay?

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For The Daily Post

“A Bandaid for my heart”

My friend and colleague and gifted writer Na’ama Yehuda blogged this sweet interaction with a young client. It touched heart and may well touch yours.

Na'ama Yehuda

She asked me if I knew about dying.

I said I knew it hurt when someone we love died.

She nodded and fiddled with the pencil, poked the tip against her finger, poked again. Again.

I wondered if she was trying to make the hurting take a form she understood through the pinprick of a just-sharpened pencil. I gently put my hand on hers.

She looked up at me, thankfully without embarrassment or worry of judgment. Feelings weren’t easy for this child, whose very early years were filled with much that couldn’t be expressed and had no wording. Her grandfather passed away right before her birth and a hue of grief lingered many months, adding to her mother’s post-partum depression. Her mother has recovered since, and the home was generally caring, but unspoken early patterns of if-you-are-quiet-you-won’t-overwhelm-mom and waiting for another’s space to open so you can have your needs met still played out often. The girl, not yet ten, was more likely to…

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Jump-Starting the Holiday Season, with Memories

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It’s the Saturday after Thanksgiving and what better time to dig out the holiday decorations. A trip to the attic with the fall wreath and garland and mantelpiece spray, and a trip or two down with the pre-lit artificial tree in its handy box, a box of ornaments, the winter wreath, a pine bough-berry spray for the top of the china closet, and the menorah. Looks like we won’t be here in the country during Hanukkah, so it’s going back up. We’ve got to get the New York place ready for the painters in ten days.

In my family, we always trimmed the tree with music on the hifi (high-fidelity, monaural vinyl record player system, for you younger readers). There was an album of traditional carols and popular songs. We always sang along.

imageThen there was the album by Fred Waring and the Pennsylvanians playing “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer” where the whole sleigh cracks up with car-wreck sound effects and when I was really small I used to cry, thinking that Santa was a gonner. It’s a great album, though, and I highly recommend it. It’s available to stream right now on Amazon Prime Music.

Anyhow, tonight I got out the iPad and Bluetooth speaker and put on Amazon Prime Music’s Holiday 2015 playlist. We put up the tree, lit the lights, and started putting on the ornaments. We didn’t know a lot of the songs. My husband, joking a bit, asked if I could find “Kol Nidre” on the app. Sure, I said, and we listened to a very young Johnny Mathis sing it. Then I found an instrumental recording of “Hatikvah,” the Israeli national anthem. After that I played Sophie Tucker singing “My Yiddishe Mamme,” in English and in Yiddish.

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From there we played a remastered album of the music of Al Jolson, a wonderful trip down a shmaltzy musical memory lane, the lyrics familiar to us both, despite the fact these songs go back to the early 20th century. I guess we both grew up hearing them at home as kids, and so tonight we sang along, sometimes with lumps in our throats and tears in our eyes. The link above takes to YouTubes of all 18 songs.

My husband grew up hearing Yiddish from his grandmother and his mother, and I learned a little from my father who found Jewish culture and music very compelling. He had a lot of Jewish friends, clients and business associates in Los Angeles and he knew a few Yiddishisms. He loved Al Jolson from his childhood. The story he told was that as a little boy he and his family went to a theater to see Al Jolson in a movie, and when it began, my father was so disappointed because he’d been expecting to see a cartoon with “Owl Jolson.” Jolson is buried at Hillside Cemetery in Los Angeles, and his mausoleum is quite spectacular. We always passed it on the way to the airport, and Daddy never failed to belt out “Mammy” as we drove by.

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It was wonderful to play those Jolson songs and remember our families as we put the shiny ornaments on the tree. Then we put on the gas fireplace and savored the cozy, holiday look. Now you can too.

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May the season be all you hope for and even better than you remember,

Love

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What If ?

Mark of Endless Light and Love shares this powerful and compelling sentiment. At a time of great human turmoil in Europe and the heartbreaking image of a drowned Syrian 3-year-old, retreating glaciers, droughts, fires and global financial uncertainty, it’s important to remember all that we do have, and do what we can for others. May all beings be peaceful, happy and light in body and spirit.

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I pray for that day, the day that everyone wakes up and has at least 1 full day of just being grateful for everything, I certainly think if we could have a ‘ I’m Grateful for Everything In My Life Day’ then we may just start to open our eyes to what we have in our lives instead of worrying about what we don’t have and what we think we need!

Food for thought my friends, food for thought!

Namaste with Love

Always

Mark

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What Beliefs Are We Feeding Our Children?

This sweet, brief post is so sharply to the point, I couldn’t pass the opportunity to share it with my readers. Our human race depends upon our understanding grave threats looming in order to overcome them, if we can.

Endless Light and Love

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How do our children learn to hate, become racist, judgemental or prejudiced?

We all come into this world innocent, we don’t harbour any belief systems, we don’t hold any hate in our hearts, we see every other human being as the same as us, we make friends easily irrespective of social, religious or ethnic differences and we love each other unconditionally…..

…….So what goes wrong, how do we learn these behavioural and emotional traits?

As parents, grandparents and siblings, it is our duty to help our children to grow, to learn and to evolve, to help them achieve the best life they can and live their lives in peace with love and compassion in their hearts, this is our duty…..

Is it yours?……….

Be a part of your child’s life, show them the right ways in life, allow them to meet with and integrate with other children from other religious…

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Buddhist Photographs of Japan in 1865

These are amazing! After enjoying looking at them, I visited the Los Angeles County Museum of Art website linked on the post. There are many more than appear here.

I have very fond memories of my painter mother taking me to the museum in the 1950s and ’60s, first at its original location at the LA Exposition Center, and then at its present location on Wilshire Blvd in the Miracle Mile. When my son, almost 40 now, was a baby, I took him to the same museum to begin to share with him the magic of original art by some of the best painters ever to put brush to canvas. Please enjoy these and visit the LACMA site where you can see more and even download any that are in the public domain.

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Click on any image to see larger photographs.

You can see many more of these wonderful photograph on the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) website.

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My Obsession

 

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Asked what occupies my head a great deal of the time , I have to admit it isn’t the dharma or my commitment to my vegan lifestyle, as much as I wish it were. No, it’s more often my physical being and what’s wrong with it. It’s health concerns and the aging process and weighing more vs. looking youthful, slim and enviable. Yes, thank goodness for my practice which gets me onto the meditation cushion two or three times a day, and I do contemplate the Buddha and the Noble Eightfold Path, and I practice Metta (loving kindness meditation) sincerely. But preparing for a vacation, I have been trying on colorful new clothing, as well as the summer things I’ve packed away since last fall, and feeling lumpy and uncomfortable trying to wear the size number I can accept. The reality is that I don’t look good in that number anymore. Acceptance of reality is optional, but denial and delusion are not okay with me.

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So what I have been obsessing over of late is how to look my best in two weeks despite midsection weight creep. Happily, having finished a session of meditation, I believe I know now how to handle this. The numbers, whether on the scale, on a tape measure, or on the tag of a garment, have no meaning other than to compare oneself to one’s former self, to one’s fellows, or to one’s ideal. I aspire daily in my Metta practice, “May I learn to look at myself with the eyes of understanding and love.”  And also, “May I learn to identify and see the sources of anger, craving and delusion in myself.” So the delusion that I must be thin–approximating an ideal, in order to be acceptable and worthy of my own understanding and love, once I see, can be shed. This is a sexist ideal, an ageist ideal, a socially promoted ideal, and for today I let it go.

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What also informed me were experiments where children were shown dolls or cards with images of children of varying complexion from pale to very dark. Whenever shown a pair where one child was light and another dark and asked which child or doll was smarter, nicer, more honest, etc., the child, regardless of his or her race, nearly always chose the lighter-complexioned one.

This got me thinking; if I were shown images of women, thin, slightly overweight and very overweight, and if asked who was smarter, nicer, richer, or more honest, I would probably select the thinner one. How sad. But knowledge is power, and as we learn to know ourselves, we become freed from prejudice, self-denigration, low self-esteem and delusion. May I learn to look at myself with the eyes of understanding and love. And may we all learn to look at all our fellow beings with the eyes of understanding and love. May it be so.

And today, this is my practice.

Namaste

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