Now we find ourselves at Week 37. It’s been quite a challenge for the planet and for human kind. My mom’s 92 year old baby sister just fell and broke her pelvis. We are all praying for her healing and return to the active life she loves. Then my cousin finally got down to her home in Florida only to find leaks and other damage. Another cousin found that her Florida art gallery and museum and all the contents survived undamaged, although trees and plants on the grounds were devastated. Friends with property and family in Puerto Rico are anxious about their wellbeing. And then there’s the political circus with its twirling and gesticulating, gyrating and posturing, bellowing and sanctifying its innocence in the face of a blunt reality that begs to differ.
Do you smudge? If not, here’s why you might want to start. Science backs up the belief many share that smudging is good for our health and can be good for the air we breathe. I do it in the office between clients sometimes, especially if the vibe has been especially intense or just to give me a lift. The wonderful work of Canadian artist Natalie Parenteau as seen above can be found here.
The colorful seaside neighborhood of La Perla in Puerto Rico inspired singer Luis Fonsi to write and perform his iconic “Despacito”. Before you get to enjoy the video make earlier this summer, here’s how La Perla looks after Hurricane Maria, in a sobering video clip.
Now, the joyous “before” to remind us all how much work will need to be done for the people of Puerto Rico and this pastel paradise to be restored to gain. “Despacito”:
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.
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.
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….
Are you interested in learning about Zen meditation? Norman Fisher explains it well in Lion’s Roar.
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.
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.
E is for Elementary. Here in our part of the US, public grade schools or primary schools, are called elementary schools and serve kindergarten through 6th grade, as a rule. Some of the private or charter schools are called academies or day schools or even country day schools. It took me a while to find a good E for this challenge. Everything I thought was an elm tree turned out to be a poplar or something else. Then I remembered our local elementary school!
Here in our little town of Pocono Pines, Pennsylvania we have an elementary school, Tobyhanna Elementary Center. From their website, we learn what a comprehensive educational center it is for a town of less than 1,500 residents. Opened in 1981, this rural public school draws students from our township and two others.
Tobyhanna Elementary Center, commonly referred to as TEC, is one of the elementary schools located within the Pocono Mountain School District. TEC serves students in the townships of Tobyhanna, Tunkhannock and a portion of Coolbaugh. Tobyhanna Elementary Center consists of close to 700 students and more than 70 professional employees and support staff.
TEC opened in 1981 and now houses 30 classrooms, a cafeteria/multipurpose room, a gymnasium, and a library. Students and faculty also use two computer labs and classroom computers.
The student body consists of children in grades kindergarten through six. In addition to education in the core curriculum areas, students attend library, music, art, physical education, and health (grades 5 & 6). Students enjoy many extracurricular activities in addition to their school day, such as band and chorus. Students have the option to participate in intramural activities (STEM Club, Odyssey of the Mind, Green Team, SGA).
I’m impressed! And I am grateful that our town offers our children and those from nearby towns the S.T.E.M. (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) exposure so crucial to our collective future in an evolving world.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.”
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: