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.

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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Your Weekly Diversion, Week 29

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On week 29, I’m wearying of the ongoing drama. Aren’t you? I guess the interviews with people who picked the current leader and still believe they did the right thing, that all their needs will be met, has done me in for now. So I’ll choose “Cake Boss” or “Waterfront Bargain Hunt” for now and leave the political punditry for another day.

Rice field

This week I want to bring a health threat to your attention. I have become aware that much if not most of the rice sold in North America contains high levels of arsenic. Arsenic is a carcinogen and very dangerous. The main reason it’s so high in rice is that in the American South and other areas where cotton was raised, arsenic was used as a pesticide and contaminated the soil. Those areas are also good for growing rice. Although pesticides with arsenic were banned in the US decades ago, the soil in these areas remains contaminated. The problem exists in many other rice-producing areas around the globe, too.

9/24/12 Daily Dose arsenic in rice CREDIT: Globe staff; iStockphoto

Dr. Michael Greger of the website Nutrition Facts has devoted a number of his videos to this topic. He urges against drinking rice milk or giving it to children. He said that crisped rice cereal isn’t safe for children, as it is probably the food highest in arsenic in a typical child’s diet. He warns against using brown rice syrup, a popular substitute for high fructose corn syrup in health store treats. Washing raw rice, as well as boiling it and then draining off the cooking water the way you cook pasta, greatly reduces the amount of arsenic in the cooked rice. And as you can guess, where the rice you buy was grown makes a huge difference. Consumer Reports addresses this issue as well. Both sites say the safest sources of rice are California, India and Pakistan because the arsenic levels are lowest in rice from these locales.

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Today we went food shopping at Aldi. Do you know about the Aldi stores? If not, see which Aldi store is closest to you and check it out. We have one here, and the prices are amazing and the quality of the products is first rate. I’ve shopped there three times in the past three weeks and still haven’t spent $100. That’s not per week. That’s adding the three trips together! I do stop elsewhere to pick up a few items they don’t carry, but that’s okay. They maintain low prices by not advertising or playing mood music, by charging for plastic bags so people bring their own, and charging a quarter to release a shopping cart from their corral, which you get back when you bring it back and connect it to the next one in line. They pay their employees pretty well and give decent benefits. Aldi plans to open 900 more stores in the US by 2022. They are in Europe as well as North America and are based in Germany.  The Aldi corporation also owns the more tony and well-known Trader Joe’s. Today I looked for safe rice, and they had a nice-sized bag of brown basmati rice from India, so I bought it.

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We’ll end with “Sunnier Days” by Diego Garcia. Let us enjoy the good in each of these days, and have faith that even sunnier days are ahead.

 

Namasté

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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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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 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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