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 38

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Photo courtesy of Theen Moy

Okay, it’s week 38, and more violence and incomprehensible suffering. Maybe life in this world has always been filled with violence and incomprehensible suffering, but we are certainly more aware of it now with our global media sources, from social to formal. So whether it’s our own personal suffering, or that of our fellow Americans in Puerto Rico and Las Vegas, the anxieties of DACA youth, sick people in fear of losing their coverage, and floods, famine, unrest and wars across the globe, the magnitude of current suffering really can’t be ignored. It sometimes feels our hearts cannot withstand it all. And yet most of us can and do. One foot in front of the other, doing the next right thing.

Each of us has our heartaches. No human being, and probably no being of any ilk, can escape suffering, what Buddhists call dukkha. We must muddle through the miseries that will surely find us as best we can, be they personal, collective or catastrophically global. Just as a tennis player facing the ball machine, we must prepare, get into position and believe we have the ability to cope with what comes speeding at us. Yes, we will fail to see some challenges coming our way, but being accepting of the realities of this life will better help us deal with them.

That said, sometimes heartache brings us to our knees, and we may end up in the fetal position, barely breathing, and perhaps even unsure we wish to get to our feet again. It feels as if it is all just too much. But as Annie sings, the sun comes out the next morning, whether or not we are standing at the window to see it. So we might as well pull ourselves up and try to get back into position to meet the day. And if we can’t, let us believe there are good people everywhere who step in to try to help.

Here are this week’s diversions, and you’ve been very patient to read thus far to get to them!

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How about a unicorn horn for a kiddo getting ready for Halloween? Or for your own costume party! This one is available here but the site isn’t taking orders right now, so here’s a link to DIY unicorn horns . Trick or treat, yeah!

Need some upbeat inspiration? Don’t we all! These wonderful women tell it to us like it is. You go, girls!

And if you’d like to help the devastated island of Puerto Rico and her good people who are staggering from the blows Hurricane Maria threw at them, here are Lin-Manuel Miranda and the amazing musicians who joined with him in creating this beautiful song, “Almost Like Praying.” At the end of the video, there’s a link to make a donation. And you can buy the song on iTunes, too.

Namasté

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Your Weekly Diversion, Week 36

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Week 36. Too much suffering going on right now, and fear, and the great unknown. I’m not even talking politics. That’s another painful topic, with healthcare uncertainty for many and the real possibility of nuclear war for us all.  Hopefully cooler heads and compassion will prevail.

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How about some diversions? Let’s make a fairy lantern! This looks like such fun, and if there’s a child in your life, it’ll be fun for both of you!

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Photo from Color Made Happy

How about painting some rocks? Go look for some nice smooth rocks, and check out these instructions. I’m  checking out good rocks now with the intention of using some pretty nail colors I’m replacing with Zoya polish which is cleaner and greener, than You-know-who’s in the ubiquitous square bottles.

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Zoya is free of the Big 10: formaldehyde, formaldehyde resin, dibutyl phthalate, toluene, camphor, TPHP, parabens, xylene, ethyl tosylamide, and lead. Lots of pretty colors, too!

As I write this post, I’ve been listening to the Global Citizen Festival, so who better than to close with than Stevie! 

 

 

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 33

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Image from the Medicine Owl

The Medicine Owl website tells us that in astrology the number 33 is a Master Number, the “teacher of teachers”:

33 is the number of ‘teacher of teachers’. It is a number that calls for service to humanity. It is a highly dedicated vibration, and people who carry this master number in their charts, have chosen a life of service to others. This means some sacrificing of personal goals and ideals for the greater good of man is required. When the number 33 individuals fully accept and step into their mission, they can overwrite other challenging aspects of their birth chart. That is the power of this number.

At this particular time in our human history, this time in which you and I and all around us are aware of such suffering from Hurricane Harvey and flooding in Houston, Texas, Louisiana and the whole region, service to humanity is certainly called for! I urge each of those who read this blog post today to do what you can for the cause, and I suspect you already have.

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You can donate to the Salvation Army here

We discussed how we would contribute, and we ended up donating to the Salvation Army, for long held family gratitude. Back in the day, my mother-in-law, may she Rest In Peace, got a job with the telephone company in New York, and when it was learned that she was Jewish, she was fired. This was devastating to her and the family on so many levels. After this awful event, she was hired by the Salvation Army, and we have a photo in the attic of her in full Army regalia ringing a bell on a street corner. We hold them in highest esteem because of this loving inclusiveness.

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Today’s diversions are first of the green variety. Household cleaning agents are often toxic, noxious or just plain lousy for us to smell and use. Today the Vitamin Shoppe sent an email giving some cleaning solutions we can make from nontoxic household items most of us already have. Then I looked up my favorite line of commercially available cleaning products on the Environmental Working Group. I learned they are mostly okay. Check out yours.

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One thing I learned there is that Dr Bronner’s Castile Soap is totally safe. It can be used for just about every cleaning task you have, personal, household and even animal. I intend to try it in a load of laundry this weekend, and follow their directions to add a cup of white vinegar (I’ve had a gallon from the dollar store forever) to the rinse cycle to soften the clothes. Here’s their page of cleaning solutions.

For your listening enjoyment, here is Sisana singing “Africa” and here is a link to a recent BBC feature about the young South African musician who once was homeless and destitute. It all fits together today, doesn’t it?

 

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 31

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Photo courtesy For Arts Sake Boutique

Week 31. Just when you don’t think things can’t get worse, all hell breaks loose and people die. Then the spin machine wobbles, spitting out more crazy, and causing many to scratch their heads nearly bald. As a Buddhist, I was asked recently by a reader of this blog if I hate the president. I’ve been taught, as you probably have, to hate bad actions but not the actor. I said no, but sometimes I know I say that I do, so troubled am I by his demeanor, utterances, actions and incitement to anger and violence. It’s a process.

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Sign available from Rustic Decorating

What should we do with our negative emotions felt towards other beings, especially public figures who seem to be sending our civilization and the world hurtling toward mutually assured destruction? I practice Metta meditation daily, and sometimes, not as often as I wish, I remember to send it toward Washington. I also have used the 12-Step practice of praying for those towards whom I feel resentment for two weeks, three if necessary, until the resentment eases. I offer thanks to the person who reminded me through that question that I have a spiritual obligation to exercise the practices I know. Both Tricycle magazine and Lion’s Roar have run features in the past eight months offering Buddhist perspectives on this very dilemma.

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So, first distraction right here! Do you know your Ayurvedic mind type? Check this out to learn more.

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Graphic courtesy of Devon Hosford

Organic or not? Fooducate explains that for the most part, organic is better.

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Gif from thund3rbolt at imgur.com

Smiles are very good for you. They’re great to see and great to get, and wonderful to give. Some say smiling is healing. Here’s an exercise from Karl Duffy that really works.

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Photo from stoffy/Reddit

Animals provide wonderful examples of joy in action. Portraits of dogs at the beach illustrate my point. And this video of a bunch of dogs, and a cat, enjoying a swim is exhilarating to see, and “Happy” by Pharrell makes the perfect sound track!

 

Namasté

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