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 17

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Photo courtesy of pixabay.com

It’s hard to know where to begin this week. One’s consciousness can feel quite numbed and befuddled by current events, a sort of tennis match of Here! No, here! Head on swivel, rooting for the good guys, and annoyed, appalled by others.

Boy, do we need some diversions! I wish they all were more cheerful ones, but here’s what I have.

In a session this week a client and I discussed our concerns for the environment. I mentioned the Pacific Gyre Garbage Patch. Because this was unfamiliar to my client, I pulled up some images on my iPad and we discussed this (literally) growing phenomenon. Do you know about it? These images tell the tale.

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Image used with gratitude to h2odistributors.com

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Gyre illustration by Jacob Magraw-Mickelson

So what can we do? I’m sure you know the drill: Return – Reuse – Recycle. Try to do it with every bit of plastic that enters the home, not easy to do, and I have to say I still throw out cat litter in old plastic bags, and have other similar behaviors. But I believe it helps us to learn and know the consequences of our carelessness. We make regular trips to a recycling center in Pennsylvania, saving our items in big blue IKEA bags in the garage, because in our county recycling is still optional. In Florida our recycling is collected weekly at the curb by the county. We try to use and reuse every bag and container that makes it into our house before we recycle what we can. We take the plastic rings from 6-packs of seltzer and cut them so they can’t end up around a seal’s snout or turtle’s shell. I’m no paragon of environmental activism, but I try and I know you probably do as well. Just Google “pacific garbage gyre” and select “images”. What you see will sober the most profligate among us. Hopefully.

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Image courtesy of Hazelden Betty Ford 

An original manuscript of the Alcoholics Anonymous Big Book is coming up for auction, as this story in the New Yorker details. As a friend of Bill W, I found it quite informative. I’d wager that the Big Book has saved more lives and brought more into a state of spiritual awakening than all the finger wagging and booze-shaming ever did.

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Photo from Design Boom

I’d like to end on a note of serenity and beauty.  I found images of a new Buddhist shrine in China inspiring, and you can read the story here.

And here’s a little something from me to you (words from the book Making Space: Creating a Home Meditation Practice by Thich Nhat Hanh):

 

Namasté

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Workers of the World, Unite!

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Pete Seeger, in Shielagh’s translation of a photo originally appearing in Bluegrass Today

Today is May 1st, May Day, the International Day of the Worker, a day to show solidarity with labor unions and their hardworking members everywhere. If you work an 8-hour day, thank a union. If you work a 40-hour week, thank a union. If you get a break in the morning and the afternoon, thank a union. If you get paid overtime when your hours exceed the 8-hour day or 40-hour week, thank a union.

Lest we toss the Workers of the World Unite slogan, attributed to Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, into some extremist dustbin, read what Abraham Lincoln said in his first annual message to Congress in 1861:

Labor is prior to, and independent of, capital. Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if labor had not first existed. Labor is the superior of capital, and deserves much the higher consideration. Capital has its rights, which are as worthy of protection as any other rights. Nor is it denied that there is, and probably always will be, a relation between labor and capital producing mutual benefits. The error is in assuming that the whole labor of community exists within that relation. A few men own capital, and that few avoid labor themselves, and with their capital hire or buy another few to labor for them. 

— U.S. President Abraham Lincoln, December 3, 1861

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Union blood runs through our veins in this family. My parents were both union members. My dad, an architect and set designer for the motion picture industry (MGM and Twentieth Century Fox) in the 1960s, belonged to the IBEW, The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers. My mother worked as a draftsperson and also as a set designer for RKO Pictures in the late 1940s and belonged to the IATSE, The International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees. I belonged to the CWA, The Communications Workers of America, when I worked in the business office of Bell Telephone of Pennsylvania and then belonged to the IBEW during a brief stint as a directory assistance operator. My husband retired as a member of the CWA after a career in the public sector. His father belonged to the APWU, The American Postal Workers Union as a postal worker. His mother belonged to DC 37 of AFSCME, the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, as a human resources clerical employee for the City of New York. And for almost 20 years, I maintained my psychotherapy office in the Amalgamated Lithographers Union Building near Union Square in New York.

This country was built on union strength. Let’s support those thousands of hard working men and women lending their collective strength to extend the union movement and thereby strengthen this great nation. Our best times as a country have been when unions have surged, bringing freedom from want, freedom from preventable illness through affordable healthcare, and freedom from job insecurity.

So, let us turn up the sound and let our voices ring, as we join Pete Seeger singing, “Union Maid” with its iconic refrain, “You can’t scare me, I’m sticking with the union.”

And perhaps you remember the ballad of Joe Hill, a martyr to the union cause, as sung so beautifully by Joan Baez:

Namasté

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Your Weekly Diversion, Week 15

969 Number 15 - Print

Week 15, coinciding with the 100 Days. It feels as if I’ve gotten more done than usual.

In the past 100 days I have

  • Spent time with good friends and met new ones
  • Closed one home and reopened the other
  • Changed insurance companies with all that it entails
  • Gone to the gym and worked out 3 times a week
  • Found an eating plan that works for me to lose weight
  • Had two laser eye treatments
  • Gotten new glasses and now see amazingly well
  • Attended an excellent professional conference
  • Meditated every day
  • Written in my journal most days
  • Learned to let go and turn over what I can’t change
  • Spent time on the beach, toes happily in the sand and sea
  • Watched and identified many beautiful birds
  • Learned mahjong and Mexican Train
  • Collected shells and learned about them
  • Co-drove almost 1,400 miles
  • Complained about bad hotel rooms and obtained full refunds
  • Kept my business going through it all
  • And managed to blog every week

We didn’t have staff to do any of it, although we do have great people who help out with things we can’t do ourselves. I’m just an ordinary human being, married to another ordinary human being. And I know that you who read this have done as much or more than I have these past 100 days. After all, with nods to the Firesign Theater, singer Jill Detroit and friends in AA, we’re all just bozos on this bus.

Namasté

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Your Weekly Diversion, Week 12

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Graphic courtesy of Men’s Health magazine 

It’s week 12 of this weekly post, roughly corresponding with the recent change in leadership in the US. You won’t read specifics from me here by design, but the news is filled with the details. All I can say is, please choose your information sources wisely. There are extreme sites out there that conflate and contort reality to suit their base. Enough said.

Here’s your first diversion: I love those colorful veggie numbers above, and when I found the source, Men’s Health magazine, I read the piece. The idea is to have a 12-hour break between the last bite of one day and the first bite of the next. So if you had a dish of ice cream at 9pm, you would wait until 9am to have the next day’s breakfast. They cite research and recommend limiting eating to an 8-hour window.

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Buddha’s Diet, from Running Press

Buddha’s Diet by Tara Cottrell and Dan Zigmond recommends much the same eating window. While Buddhist monastics typically limit eating between dawn and noon, this book advises to limit eating to nine hours, and to do so mindfully and healthfully, but there are no lists of must-eats and must-nots. I have been following its guidelines now for several weeks and find it easy to do and beneficial in a number of ways. The morning does feel like a fast. Before that first meal, I drink decaf black coffee, decaf tea, seltzer and plain water, as much as I can, to stay hydrated. I do have caffeinated coffee if I really need it, but most of experts I’ve read say we’re better off without it. Plus, it dehydrates.

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Photo courtesy of National Geographic 

Is laughter really the best medicine as the Reader’s Digest always said? Could be. Author and former Saturday Review editor Norman Cousins reportedly cured himself of a serious illness by deliberate laughter, having Marx Brothers movies brought into his hospital room and giving in to deep belly laughs. There’s a lot out there on the subject, so Google it yourself. Now, enjoy reading about the mischievous Kea parrots of New Zealand who love to laugh. The second video on the page shows their playful resourcefulness. Good for a chuckle, too.

And for your listening pleasure, here is Angel Olsen with “Never Be Mine.”

 

Namasté 

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Your Weekly Diversion, Week 11

 

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And here we are at the end of another week. I write this week’s post from Washington DC, where I have been attending a fantastic professional conference focusing on the psychotherapeutic treatment of trauma. Having enjoyed countless conversations with colleagues whom I’ve known now for decades and many of whom I consider among my closest friends, it seems these times in which we find ourselves are quite traumatic for most of us, domestically and internationally as well. Being so near the epicenter of the seismic shift only adds a measure of intensity to it all.

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On the brighter side, the cherry blossoms are in full flower, and the trees are greening up with the beginnings of leaves.

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Speaking of trees, this less-invasive wind turbine does away with the huge and often dangerous blades to more closely approximate actual leaves. Each “leaf” rotates vertically, and a whole tree can power an electric car for over 10,000 miles a year.

Sea Of Springtime Wildflowers Spreads Across Southern California

Maybe this is because it is spring at last, but I am perseverating on the botanical today.  The heavy snowfall and abundant rains in California have produced the most spectacular wild flowers in recent memory. The story and video at the link attest to this colorful affirmation of renewal.

Given the botanical theme, I feel drawn towards a song from my California adolescence. May you enjoy it, too!

Namasté

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Your Weekly Diversion, Week 8

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So how was your week?

Here in SW Florida we’ve been experiencing close proximity to a brushfire that devastated 7500 acres of pine scrub and palmettos and created a huge, mushrooming column of choking smoke that hung about for days. Only four rural structures were destroyed, and thankfully no one was hurt, but that smoke was epic. Here’s what we saw from our driveway on Tuesday.

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Collier County brushfire 3/7/17

The Collier County fire paled by comparison to the conflagration in Washington DC spawned by hot air, smoke and mirrors, hubris, hypocrisy, and paranoia. And, no, it isn’t the same on both sides.

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Photo courtesy of Travel Wires

Now for your diversions. Column of impressive smoke, you say? Italians can claim the prize, produced by Mount Etna this month.

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After all these fiery natural phenomena and irrational political bombast, I needed some good news. A man lost his beloved parrot. Thanks to an implanted ID chip, the parrot was found years later and reunited with his owner. You’ll have to read this to learn the change the parrot exhibited upon his return.

 

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Here’s another feel good diversion. When her dad wouldn’t do it, a business leader walked a lesbian bride down the aisle.

And I wouldn’t leave you without some good music. My cousin from Knoxville, Tennessee shared one of her favorite artists with me this weekend when she and her sister came for a fun visit. Here is Amos Lee and “Southern Girl.”

 

Namasté

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