Your Weekly Diversion, Week 23

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Graphic from Race Fashion

Week 23 is upon us and there is much to cause concern. There’s a major fight afoot in Washington to greatly reduce Medicaid coverage throughout the nation. Maybe you don’t have a need for it now, but it behooves us all to be aware that if you or a loved one is elderly on a low fixed income, a child or adult in dire financial straits, disabled, living in a nursing facility or group home, or in any other way dependent on Medicaid health coverage, including utilizing the help of home health aides, that coverage could evaporate or greatly shrink in the not so distant future. There are demonstrations across the country to show support for a compassionate health legislation. If you’d like to learn ways to help make a difference, Indivisible offers plenty of useful information. Tempted though I am to detail the reasons for this, my Diversions blog is not a political blog. I trust you to Google this to learn more in the unlikely event that you are as yet unaware of this.

I’ve curated a few disparate items to distract you from the many varied challenges you face day to day. 

Are you a woman who’s never sure how a new lipstick will look on you when you buy it? Then you should be interested in this new app that lets you try on shades of various major brands, and then order the ones you like. It’s big in Asia.

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Millions suffer from chronic inflammation. It plays a role in many chronic conditions, from asthma, arthritis, and some migraines, to fibromyalgia, ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease. Check out this piece on beverages that may help.

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Music hath charms to soothe a savage breast. This quote by Willam Congreve from his 1697 play, “The Mourning Bride,” is frequently misquoted as “Music hath charms to soothe the savage beast. In 1697 “music” was actually spelled “musick”. Why tell you all this? Because I have more than one musical treat for you today. And most of us have savage moments daily, often when we speak with our spouses or children, since we get under one another’s skin because we know one another so well. So we all deserve more soothing.

First, here is an interview with Bèla Fleck on playing JS Bach on the banjo, followed by a video of him performing. I heard him on NPR and found his playing magical.

Last I’ll end today’s diversions with “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” long considered the Black national anthem. This month featured Juneteenth, and I didn’t want the month to end without sharing this. If you aren’t aware of some of this important American history, do check the links.

 

Namasté

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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 21

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It’s Week 21 and we need distance and diversion now more than ever. Not only those, but we’ll also need energy and resolve for activism and action, and the chutzpah to do what it takes to effect change. As Mahatma Gandhi taught us, we need to be the change we wish to see in the world.

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Israeli-Palestinian Unity flag by Deviant Art

First, how about a really positive news story? A Jewish nurse was treating a mother who could not nurse her infant. What she did was wonderful. Read the details here.

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Photo from mojan.com

Second, are you an empath? If you are a sensitive person who feels the pain and suffering of others, if you yearn to help, if you are a helping professional (a nurse, a teacher, a physician, a psychologist, a therapist or counselor, an advocate) you may be an empath. Self-care is essential for your wellbeing, and one way to engage that self-care is through the use of healing gemstones. Sivanaspirit offers us some great information on this subject.

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Alice Coltrane, widow of musician John Coltrane, was a skilled musical artist in her own right. He had ordered a full-sized floor harp to be made for him, and the making of it took quite a while. Sadly, he died before it arrived. The harp sat for some time, but finally his widow decided to learn to play it. The following video features the lush jazz sounds she coaxes from this very harp. The New Yorker magazine published a comprehensive feature on Alice Coltrane’s devotional music that digs deep into her story.

 

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 19

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Wow, Week 19 already. Seems like more, doesn’t it? An eternity. Yeah well, you can live and die in a moment, so…

This week in my little life has been crazy. It started a bit tentatively with a few days of transient abdominal pain that got progressively worse, then a trip to the doctor who sent me to the ER. It was a recurrence of diverticulitis, the first I’ve had in over 20 years. Think labor pains or the worst doubling-over belly ache you ever had. Intense. But I’m home now and slowly getting back to normal, although still not there yet.

Here’s what I’ve curated for you this week:

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Photo by Gerald Herbert/Associated Press

First, an inspiring piece about the mayor of New Orleans, Mitch Landrieu. I know that his dad, known as “Moon” Landrieu, who was also a mayor of this most unique American city, would be very proud of him. I know I am, and I’m a distant niece of Robert E. Lee. Thank you, Mitch!

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Uruguayan amethyst, courtesy Gem Adventurer

 

Love sparkly, colorful jewels?          Me, too. Especially purple ones. Some of you may be surprised to know that some stones are more suited to you than others. Take this quiz to learn which is your best gemstone. (I was thrilled to learn that mine is amethyst.)

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Spinners from learningexpress.com

How do you like those new fidget spinners? What? Haven’t heard of them? Then hustle over to Mashable to learn more. By the way, there are more different kinds than I knew.

I was delighted to read that Outkast’s “Hey Ya” is the choice of many Australians for their new national anthem.

Namasté

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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 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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