Monday, December 17, 2012

Learn How to Meditate in Bedford, NH


 This is the perfect time of year to give yourself or someone you know the gift of meditation classes!
  • Meditation: It's NOT what you THINK! 
  • New 6 Week classes starting Monday January 7th,  
  • 7:30 to 9PM
  •  
  • Click this link for more information or to SIGN UP:  http://www.bedfordreconline.com/info/activities/program_details.aspx?ProgramID=28670
  • If you ever wondered about meditation and how it might fit into your life, this might just be the class for you. In this 6 week program students will be introduced to a variety of meditation and mindfulness techniques in a fun and supportive way.  
  • Winter weather and the post-holiday rush can make you feel so lethargic and stressed. There are ways to bring a sense of calm and focus to your life that can be nicely worked into your day or week without having to sit for long hours on a cushion, in some remote locale, trying to gain a sense of peace. Sounds great, but how practical is this visage in our daily lives? For most of us, not very realistic.  
  • All you need to bring is an open mind and the willingness to learn new things and maybe, just maybe, you might find a sense of space, calm or insight in the midst of life as we know it!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Strep Throat and the Art of Self Care

This past weekend was supposed to have been a whirlwind of family fun in New York City. We were invited to attend a work related event offered by my husbands place of employment  to enjoy a lovely two room suite atop the 40th floor of the "W' hotel overlooking all the non stop action of Times Square. We were to be wined and dined at several exquisite NYC restaurants and treated to a VIP ticketed experience to see the ever popular stage production of "Wicked" and to meet the entire cast. We also decided, at our own expense, to add on a show at Radio City Music Hall to see the Rockettes perform their non stop sparkle Christmas show. It was a weekend that we all had been anticipating, most of all my son, who we took to NYC for the first time this summer and he fell under its spell quite quickly. He could not wait to return!

I awoke the Friday morning we were to leave with a fever, chills, aches in every nook and cranny of my body, and a throat that was so swollen I could barely swallow  glass of water. It came on with little to no fanfare. Over the past week or so I had been feeling exceptionally tired, but chalked that up to the frenzied pace of prepping the home for the holidays and purchasing all our NYC holiday finery. So, I was quite surprised to discover my body was in no way, shape or form able to even think about the trip any longer. All it simply wanted to do was lay down and stay there comatose not moving for as long as it took to recover.

My husband and son went on their own, at my urging, since to stay behind and miss all the fun because I was ill was not necessary. I also told my husband to invite my sister to meet up with them at some point. She lives very close to the city and would probably love to spend time with Ty having some Xmas fun as well.

I made a doctors appointment for that afternoon at the only available time they had left, 2:45 PM and truly hoped that I had something that would require some good, strong medicine to do battle with my body! The doctors office was packed with lots of other sick people so it took me close to 45 minutes to see him. The throat was swabbed and the diagnosis was swift: Strep. I started to cry. As much from the high fever that was steadily rising as I sat waiting for the doctor to enter my room, and because I was just so very sick. I wiped my eyes, thanked the doctor and left. I could not wait to get my prescription filled, get home, get in my pajamas and simply be sick.

It was a weekend filled with emotion for all of us. My husband was sad to not have me along, as was my son and yet they both were excited to head to NYC for their holiday adventure, as they should. I was feeling so sick and nauseous that I was looking forward to having the house all to myself to lick my wounds in silence. I found that not having them here allowed me to just simply be in my own space, doing my own thing, which was not much since all I wanted to do was rest and believe it or not, EAT! I was not just hungry, my appetite was on fire. I simply could not eat enough. Lucky for me, I stopped at the food store after the doctor to pick up, very quickly, some things to eat since I had not stocked the fridge due to our impending trip.  It would seem to me that every part of my being was directed toward the healing process. My body was quite simply looking for the fuel it needed to make it so. It was incredible to experience, but by Sunday the massive appetite had abated as I started to feel more like myself. 

Who knew strep could power up such an appetite? I "Googled" it and apparently I am not alone in my ravenous pursuit of food with Strep. I read accounts of many others who felt this nonstop,  overpowering urge to eat along with the nausea caused by the sinuses being affected. A most curious thing to experience! You feel sick to your stomach and hungry all at the same time. Instinctively I knew the food would actually reduce the nauseous feeling, in turn hastening along my recovery, which it did! I won't tell you all I ate, but it did involve some truffle chocolate brownies. Curse you Trader Joe's! Only kidding!!

At long last I am feeling better, although still experiencing intermittent headaches and bouts of nausea, something that can continue for awhile, even on the medicine. I missed the trip. I gave myself what it needed most, food and rest,  and in the end, while I am sorry to not have been with my family in NYC, I knew to be alone,  allowing my body to rest, feel and do whatever else it needed was truly the best place for me to be!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Sandy and the Jersey Shore


It has been often said that "a picture is worth a thousand words" so with the vast array of photos available online that show the destruction experienced in so many communities all over New Jersey, I decided to publish only this one above. This snap was taken in the town of Point Pleasant Beach, one of the hardest hit,  and truly summed up the spirit of these coastal areas so decimated by Sandy. This image reminds me that folks from NJ, myself included,  are outspoken, fearless, independent, fighters, doers, gregarious,  and most importantly, some of the funniest people on the planet! New Jersey WILL come back from all the damage, changed and forever altered, but not broken. 

My husband and I felt such hope amidst all the wreckage and this photo will forever encapsulate that for us.

Now, this is not to say that NJ is not in dire need of financial assistance and donations are being taken by so many organizations located throughout the state. 


Click the link below to find places accepting donations or looking for volunteers to help the people of New Jersey:


http://www.nj.com/news/index.ssf/2012/11/hurricane_sandy_resources_how.html

If you can donate money, please do, even the smallest amount when multiplied by so many can make a difference! 

On a final note: The news/media up in NH is not covering the aftermath as widely as it is in the tri-state area, so in a large way we feel insulated from the effects. Let me assure you, it is going to take years for some of these towns to come back. And if you are thinking that the folks who lost homes all have money and lived in splendor along the beach, think again! A lot of beach communities in NJ are filled with low to middle income families just trying to survive and their losses are so deeply felt. So please, open your hearts and give what you can this holiday and beyond to help get NJ back on its feet!


Monday, November 26, 2012

Meditation Classes Bedford, NH January 2013

 This is the perfect time of year to give yourself or someone you know the gift of meditation classes!
  • Meditation: It's NOT what you THINK! 
  • New 6 Week classes starting Monday January 7th,  
  • 7:30 to 9PM
  •  
  • Click this link for more information or to SIGN UP: http://www.bedfordreconline.com/info/activities/program_details.aspx?ProgramID=28670
  •  
  •  If you ever wondered about meditation and how it might fit into your life, this might just be the class for you. In this 6 week program students will be introduced to a variety of meditation and mindfulness techniques in a fun and supportive way. Winter weather and the post-holiday rush can make you feel so lethargic and stressed. There are ways to bring a sense of calm and focus to your life that can be nicely worked into your day or week without having to sit for long hours on a cushion, in some remote locale, trying to gain a sense of peace. Sounds great, but how practical is this visage in our daily lives? For most of us, not very realistic. All you need to bring is an open mind and the willingness to learn new things and maybe, just maybe, you might find a sense of space, calm or insight in the midst of life as we know it!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Gratitude for the Craft of Writing and Blogging

I have been a writer for years. It started long ago in my youth when my mother first introduced me to the world of books and reading. It was a pivotal learning process to discover that books can be friend, teacher, parent, guardian, guide, enemy, doctor, artist, monster, and on and on and on. The world of reading seemed endless to me and the immense array of subject matter infinite. Never a dull moment in the pages of a book. So it only made sense that this passion for books, would awaken a feverish desire for writing, which indeed it has over the years. I have written full blown works of fiction meant for magazine publication, children's tales, a teensy bit of poetry, and massive numbers of partially written books both fiction and non fiction that will one day surely be complete!

There seems to be a lot of smugness in the world of writing that likens blogs to empty, vacuous wastelands of personal drivel that matters little to people in the grander scheme of things. And yet, the memoir genre of books published continues to grow and thrive, indicating people do like to read about what other people are doing in their lives. I know I do. But as are most people, I am very particular and even a bit superior at times about what I read.

I have to admit, I don't follow other blogs. That is not to say I don't look at them now and again when searching some information on the internet. Mostly, I am drawn to blogs about a particular area of interest that has captured my attention in the moment.  I gloss thru a blog rapidly to determine if it holds something vital to my world. But once I get a gander at its contents I move on, barely leaving a trace of my ever having been there. Secretly looking, gaining perhaps some insight or awareness, and moving on. I rarely, if ever, add my name to an email list to receive regular updates on blogs. And I honestly, do not save their internet addresses in my Bookmarks section. I suspect I am not alone in this quirkiness of mine of being both a blogger and a non blog reader.  In fact, I am willing to bet that many of my 3,500 page viewers do just the same such thing as me. I think of myself as perhaps a kind of hit and run reader.

So why write my own blog ? What's in it for me? Well, for one thing,  it is an opportunity to share who I am in a profoundly honest way that may or may not resonate with a potential reader. It is also a creative outlet that channels my artistic inclinations in a much more productive manner then writing in a diary or journal. Not that I don't do those as well, but the process in that instance is much more free flowing with very little to no editing efforts in sight. Plus, quite frankly, those forms of dialoguing are not meant for public viewing, although the results of which can and do make it onto the blog now and again. Journal scribing is the rough draft of my life and blogging is the light bulb on top of the head moments. Both are authentic representations of who I am but neither of them shows the depth of my spirit or captures me completely, nor do they have to for that matter.

In actuality, I started my blog just about a one year ago last month as the literal means to keep honing my skills as a writer. I see a huge improvement in my writing style and written word development from earlier blog posts through more recent ones. My original goal was purely and simply to post a new blog weekly, which for the most part, I have done. (OK I did take some time off in the summer!) But I also did it as the creative force in me believes that being who we are is infinitely more interesting then pretending to be something we are not, as so many people do in their daily lives.  That is not to say that the world of fiction does not have its well earned place of respect in literature, but in "real life" it serves no purpose other then to confuse and confound the very essence of who we are meant to be from shining through.

A deep bow of gratitude to all the 3,500  page viewers who in one year have happened upon my blog for one reason or another. You have looked, laughed and hopefully gleaned some nugget of truth that has made you feel something, no matter what that feeling was, that is authentic.

I wanted to leave all my fellow writers this Thanksgiving week with a quote that made me sit up and take note found in Poets and Writers magazine. The writer of the article was Dan White and was titled "Why We Write" The quote was from  Tony Connor, a poet and professor who taught at Wesleyan University.  "Asked if he could predict which of his students would achieve literary success, Connor said the ones who succeeded would have the sheer bloody-mindedness to go on when nobody gives a damn."

I write for myself first and that is as authentic a place as I can endeavor to be!






Tuesday, November 13, 2012

A Reflection on the Body Politic

I was reflecting back upon this recent election process that has left so many jubilant and others feeling as though the end of the world was drawing near. It would seem that this democracy often leaves so many at extreme odds with one another, as it does in Washington, where a consensus on anything is a rare thing indeed. But there is something so raw and real to the passion people have in expressing their opinions, both for and against the issues that plague our country. And the loyalties that engenders is most remarkable.

My husband, son and I took a trip to Peterborough, NH to have breakfast the Saturday prior to the November elections. We love Peterborough for its creative vibe and friendly atmosphere. Plus, the Toadstool bookstore is located there, and in this world of uninspired, bland box stores with such strong and dare I say it, invasive national presence, it is frankly refreshing to shop and support local, small businesses.

While eating, there was a flurry of activity as an entourage was making its way through this very tiny diner to the backroom where we were seated. It turned out to be Maggie Hassan, who was running for Governor, shaking hands and chatting with people as they ate breakfast. It is not an unusual occurrence here in NH, a state where wanna be presidents from all across this nation flock like migrating birds in an effort to sway the votes for this very watched primary election. For some reason, seeing Ms. Hassan at this diner made me so aware of how rigorous and tiring the schedule is for these political hopefuls. So much so, that they are barely aware of where they are or where they are headed. This was clear when my husband made mention to her that she was to come that Monday to his place of employment to do a meet and greet with the employees there. She had a faraway look in her eye with just a touch of confusion, as she admitted not really knowing what was on her schedule. Just a cog in the wheel in perpetual motion I suppose. 

After breakfast, my son and I strolled over to the bookstore where Ms. Hassan and her team of smiling supporters were just exiting. We said our hellos to one another like old friends greeting on the street, as I asked how many more stops she was to make that day. She thought for a moment or two,  and said only 5 or 6 total, we both laughed, and off her crew swept out the door, signs held aloft, with cameras filming all the while. It was easy to feel, as well as see the excitement on the faces of her team, the literal body politic. They moved together with such enthusiasm and passion, almost hypnotically charming you to join them, with Maggie as their Pied Piper! They were honored to be part of this political spectacle and were willing to give up their mornings, afternoons and evenings to see it through to completion. Their joyful band was infectious and made me wonder how many votes are gained, or perhaps even lost, by these forays into the world of "normal" folks? Hmm?

Case in point: some years ago when George W. Bush was running for President I had been invited to attend a $500 a plate political fundraiser  in New Jersey held at a "swanky" hotel. At the time, I was interning as a photographer for then Governor Christine Todd-Whitman and all interns were invited as her guests. I went for the experience of it all. There was such a collective buzz of activity when he took his place at the podium with the Governor. After his obligatory speech, and subsequent jokes, they came down from the dais to meet the throng. People swelled forward in a circle around them as the presidential candidate and the Governor made the rounds shaking hands and talking to us all. I recall, quite vividly, how he placed  one hand very firmly on my back as he shook my hand, looking directly into my eyes as we spoke briefly for a moment or two. Dare I say it; I was completely awestruck  by the shear power this man carried about him! There was an expectant air of important things to come, and despite whatever my personal feelings for the man were, I sensed how easily it is for people to be swept along in the tide of his or anyone’s political machinations. There was a presence to it that was undeniably there. In fact I talked about it for so long afterward with both family and friends that my husband began to tease me that perhaps my loyalties were shifting. (Ah, but that’s a secret best well kept!)

I was again moved by the power of politics as I entered the polling location in my hometown a week or so ago. People were lined up in a circuitous route that took me all around the building in a maze like manner to find the end of the line. It took just over an hour for me to finally cast my ballot and it was hard not to be touched by the high voter turn out, despite the long wait. Granted, I live in a community that is a bastion of conservative values and most people were coming to cast their oppositional vote to the current administration in control. I saw so many people I barely knew or recognized and thought it was surely a sign of how passionate people felt right now.

So, as I reflect back on this time I am once again reminded of how truly wonderful it is to live in a country where choice, for the most part, is still allowed and if you have an opinion, no matter how oppositional it is to the "norm" you can express it without fear of retribution (Although, I guess TV personalities and media are held to a different set of standards sometimes!) And, it is amazing to see the passion people have for their candidates. While it must be so hard to admit defeat for some, it never-the-less is a fact of life: someone wins and someone loses.

So despite your own political truth, we all can agree on one thing perhaps,  it is  nice not to have our mail boxes stuffed with political ads. I cannot help but wonder if the cost to produce all that "junk" mail was directed toward a cause of greater value, like education or health care, instead of landfills or recycling centers, maybe votes would be earned a more meaningful way. Jut a thought.





Friday, November 2, 2012

Death Goes Trick or Treating

Death went trick or treating this past Halloween. However,  in his haste to catch up to his good friend, the Werewolf, he tripped over a fence and got stuck! Death's father helped to extricate him from his entanglement, examined his abdominal area for possible injury, and deemed him unscathed. 
Off he scurried, once freed, 
to gather more sweets, treats 
and good things to eat.
So even Death needs to take heed,
 and be more watchful where he treads
 lest some ill wind blow his way
 to put a damper on the day!



The irony of this was not lost on us and hope it brings a smile to all your faces in this post hurricane/super storm week.Happy Halloweenie!!!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

My heart is with you ALL Post-Sandy!



This is the beloved Point Pleasant Beach shoreline on a cold and brisk day this past April 2012. Wild, erratic surf and blowing salt spray are common occurrences at this lovely, family beach located on the Atlantic Coast in New Jersey. Sadly, this town, where I once lived, worked and played has been left badly scarred and wounded by the "Super Storm" Sandy. In fact, there are probably few towns all along the eastern seaboard, as well as further inland,  that did not incur damage or problems. Power outages, downed trees, flooding, fires and wind damage are just some of the effects felt by one and all.

Many beaches will be forever changed by the driving seas that pummeled relentlessly onto the fragile shoreline. Changed forever, but a "new" type of normal will eventually come shining through.

It made me once again aware this morning how everything does indeed change, nothing lasts, and there is something rather poignant about this natural rhythm to life. Just as in nature, things change and shift in our own lives. We give rise to new discoveries, sometimes wrestle with their effects, but in the end, we are changed despite all our best efforts to "sandbag" ourselves from the encroaching storms that can and do beset our own lives. 

So, good thoughts to everyone touched by Sandy. It was a storm none of us will soon forget and I truly hope that you all find your new "normal" soon!



Monday, October 22, 2012

Meditation Classes Bedford, NH

                  

 

                   Meditation: It's NOT what you THINK!

       New 6 Week classes starting Monday November 5, 2012

                                           7:30 to 9PM

                   Click this link below for more information:

                 http://www.bedfordreconline.com/info/activities /program_details.aspx?ProgramID=28670 

What is meditation or mindfulness and how can it possibly fit into my already full life? Do I have to sit and stare at a wall without moving for hours, or worse, am I going to chant out words I don't even know or understand? Will I need to change or adjust my religious beliefs in order to meditate? 

Is it possible that I can keep my beliefs while adding in some mindful moments to my day/week/life  in order to bring a sense of greater peace or calm? The answer to that last question is a resounding: yes!

In this 6 week (no class Nov. 12th) program students will be introduced to a variety of meditation and mindfulness techniques in a fun,  supportive and collaborative environment that will enable you to determine what works best for you.

This is the perfect time of year to give yourself or someone you know the gift of meditation classes. Holidays bring on so many added responsibilities that can leave us physically and emotionally depleted at times.

There are ways to bring a sense of calm and focus to our lives that can be nicely worked into our day or week without having to sit for long hours on a cushion, in some remote locale, trying to gain a sense of peace. Sounds great, but how practical is this visage in our daily lives? For most of us, not very realistic.

All you need to bring is an open mind and the willingness to learn new things and maybe, just maybe, you might find a sense of space, peace or insight in the midst of life as we know it!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Death of a Parent : An Exploration of Loss

Five young ones lose the attention, love and guidance of a father. Two are granted permission by their matriarch  to mourn this loss: see it, feel it, and know it in a way that only they can express. Three are deemed too young to be part of this dark experience of a life lost and each feels this separation in a disconnected and distinctly unique way. All five feel the effects of death, regardless of their mourning process and grow to depend more and more on one another in a way that does not even begin to heal the chasm of emotion created. It feels familiar at the moment. Safe. So it lingers.

Jump forward 16 or so years. Youngest sibling encounters an earth shattering moment: a car accident that leaves her life and that of her remaining family forever altered. Endless nights and days spent in hospitals, waiting for a sign of life. When it it appears, months later, it has changed, morphed into something none of them asked to be a part of nor would they for that matter. Now, their slowly healing world revolves around the nonstop care of a mothers desperate, controlling need to mend this broken life. She does so at a cost and is seemingly oblivious to its price. They are family. That is the only reason they need. Nothing else matters.

Enter a woman some 10 or so years later. A woman who was raised in a decidedly different way, not touched by such a degree of loss and sorrow. Yet: she feels it in other ways through the emotional distancing of a mother living a life deemed unfulfilled. These three siblings grow up to be thinkers, independent and opinionated, full of laughter and life. They weathered the roller coaster of their youth to be set free from their home upon growing up and moving away. Such a heady feeling of excitement as there are indeed so many choices to make in life that are completely their own: the joy of knowing this excites! Freedom feels so alive with the possibility of "what now?"

This youngest daughter meets the eldest son whose life has been so utterly and completely removed from her own. She is drawn to his quiet strength and unconditional love in a way that felt like coming home to her. Coming home to herself. This man sees in her the other possibilities that life has to offer and he is intrigued. Filled with the inner knowledge that each has found in the other a strength not fully realized within themselves, they fall in love and awaken to all the wonderful potentiality that engenders. 

She is introduced to his family, as he is to hers. Both see the differences and feel the loss of what might have been missing from their own growing years. They explore this in a way that provides them with a host of new experiences and are willing to make changes along the way. 

But always, the need, the endless aching need to cycle his life around  the life of a sibling no longer in control of her own body and mind. It takes its toll and this man sees a chance to make a change, move on, to discover who he is apart from this artificially close and confining world his mother has created. He breathes deeply into the possibility and newness of this concept. This is something he innately senses is needed in his life. So he leaves, bravely traveling into this unfamiliar ground.

His life ebbs and flows with this woman. She gives him the loving acceptance needed to separate from such a cloying existence all the while instinctively knowing it will suffocate him if he stays. His gift to her is the freedom to explore her artistic dreams and creative pursuits while giving her such safe, loving arms to sense the dark and see the light that draws her forth. What they give to each other is the pure and simple chance to be who they need to be, while knowing that together, all things are possible. Circumstances at times threaten to break apart this deep abiding trust they have developed for one another over the years, but this only helped them each to grow and thrive. Never the same as before, forever changed, always discovering something new in each of them to honor.

Now, the loss of his mother is nearing. She is dying the slow, painful death of lung cancer kept at bay, thankfully,  with ever increasing doses of morphine. The remaining siblings attempt to prevent him from learning of her impending death, as it is their hope to ease their pain by causing it to him. Forbidding him to be part of their loss which in some way unites them in their abhorrence of the person their brother became in life. A pain that was struck so hard and deep to all of them them by his literal distancing in miles from the family fold. Left behind by his actions.  A pain deeply felt. But, choices were made by all involved to do what each sensed was right for them at the time.

Is this pain one that stems from his choices or that of their own path not followed in life, or perhaps a combination of both?  One sibling is no longer here, having succumbed to breast cancer at the oh so young age of 38. She was the mottled and chunky paste that held this grief laden family, however scattered and remote, together. She was the keeper of family memories and the one who saw the fun side of life. The youngest sibling resides in a world all her own that no one truly knows or can understand so projection of personal feelings are often the only way they can navigate her frozen life. The eldest daughter loses a best friend in both her sisters. She feels the non stop pull of her mother to home and a sense of duty that is rife with sorrow and pain all her own. She attempts to provide guidance for them all, being one of the two eldest siblings truly given the chance at very formative ages, to mourn the loss of her father. The middle son is the first to leave the tribe and is forever banished, despite the numerous attempts on his part over the years to reconnect. Perhaps this meant they might have to accept and respect the person he had become, instead of the multiple recriminations of endless dissatisfaction and dashed expectations every time they saw him.  Always wanting more of him and a return to what once was given, in stoic silence, so long ago. Could anyone measure up to such perceived standards of idealization? The youngest son stays close to home, marries, raises a family and makes choices to be the provider of all things to his mother out of his sense of duty and rightness, despite the needs of his growing family. A way of being that sees the world only in black and white and not all the subtle shades of gray that could have given it greater possibility and richness.

Perhaps all is not lost forever between them. Maybe the revelation, when confronted unexpectedly last evening by his siblings in his grieving process,  that a son was almost prevented from saying goodbye to his very complicated relationship with his mother, may one day resonate with them all. Just as he was prevented at the age of 8, by their mother, from saying good bye, in a personal way,  to their father. The irony of this fact ripples. The palpable poignancy of the deep rift that was rendered some 20 or so years a go when this woman breathed new life into a man whose world has been forever changed. He chose a life lived and that is indeed a lesson for so many of us to learn. 

And so, the healing begins, "anew" for this family who not by choice, have come to know most intimately the effects of loss. A resting or pausing in the knowledge that everything is as it needs to be right here, right now, in this moment. Just this, as it is now, at so tender a time is all anyone could ask of the other.  Mutual respect and shared commonality to let each sibling  honor the bittersweet loss of a mother who held them all, at one time or another, in her grief stricken arms after her husband died of cancer so many years a go. Nothing can take that away, nothing.

Friday, September 28, 2012

The Weather Report


·  Powerful earthquake hits near Mexico
·  Avalanche kills 11 climbers at Nepal peak
·  Deadly floods strike northern Cameroon
·  NOAA: 2012 hottest year on record
·  Images: The Great New England Hurricane of 1938
·  Death Valley officially hottest place on Earth
·  Typhoon Sanba takes aim at South Korea
·  Can America be in for another 'Dust Bowl'?
·  Massive drought's impact felt everywhere
·  Volcanic activity diminishes in Guatemala
·  Super typhoon headed for Okinawa
·  Strong earthquake rat

I was looking up the weekend weather report just now trying to determine if rain is forecast. Below the weekend weather recap was the above listed information. Now, it would seem to me, that even the weather report page has become a source of the disaster mentality that journalistic media is so fond of doing every day on the evening, morning and afternoon news.

But here's the question: are things truly as ominous as they seem, is the world truly on the brink of both natural and man-made disasters, or is there a simpler theory at play here: bad news sells, or in this case, gets your attention?

I do not deny the fragile conditions of our world from its rocky economic and atmospheric climate. Steps are being taken, slow moving steps, to help raise awareness to the plight of our natural resources. To quote a much used phrase "it does not take a rocket scientist" to figure out our world is indeed facing some of the most challenging issues to date. 

But here is my concern: if we focus on just what is wrong or disaster driven in our world, does that necessarily help us to recognize what is inherently good out there? Would anyone truly tune into a news program that only spoke of the good deeds, or took a more positive spin in general.

I am not talking about a Pollyanna view of the worlds problems, Far from it, in fact. What I am suggesting is that so much of our culture is drawn to the worst case scenario, disaster and doom. Look at some of the movies people are drawn to and what makes "big" Hollywood dollars: huge, blockbuster disaster movies that reek of doom, gloom and the end of the world as we know it. Again, not anything new here, just the same old tired fantasy format being played out in our media. The only difference here is what we are watching or reading is being billed as "real" life, which of course it is, but there is so much more to our world to discover.

Let me just repeat again: I am not suggesting we all put on rose colored glasses and adopt a Pollyanna view of life. What I am suggesting however, is that we all take a moment or two each day, before we devour the days news or weather reports to recognize that as bad as things may seem, we don't have to buy into the hype. This does not give you permission to not care, or be affected by the news. No indeed! But to ruminate, or let ourselves feel helpless by the shear weight of all this murkiness in life serves no purpose.

As my son was waiting for the bus on this rainy day I mentioned to him the old expression "into everyone's life a little rain must fall." We talked about the fact that this saying was not just meant to be taken literally, but to be used as a metaphor in life.  Native American culture embodied this concept so beautifully in their daily life by recognizing this fact by being in close touch with nature. They used the metaphor of the sun rising and setting each day as a message for their own lives. They intuitively understood the sun rises and sets in  life through death, loss, war and ill health, marriage, family, love, etc. This is all a fact of being human.

So in essence what I am saying here is don't go searching for the "bad" or "negative" in life as a way to prove how truly awful the world has become, instead, bring a healthy curiosity to what is and find a way perhaps, in some small way to make your life matter.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Laugh, it makes you FEEL good!

Last night my husband and I happened upon a recorded show of Jay Mohr: Funny For a Girl, that had aired on Showtime. Jay Mohr, for those who might not know him, is a stand up comedian and actor. One of his most memorable roles was as the overly aggressive sports agent from Jerry Maguire. Neither of us had ever seen Jay's stand up routine so we decided to give it a whirl last night. Let me just say for the record: if you are the parent of little boys, were once the parent of little boys, or know someone with little boys, this is a MUST see show. (Warning: for those that dislike bad language or shy away from adult oriented humor, do not view this program. Some of his humor can be quite racy. So be advised.)
Our son building his traps in the woods

We could not stop laughing at the way he describes a sleep over with various 7 and 8 year old little boys.  Jay goes on to tell the tale of how he said good night to his son who at the time was wearing  NY JETS pajamas, however a few hours later, his son comes in the bedroom to tell his dad of some evil deed doings by a sleepover mate, only now he is wearing Spongebob pj bottoms and a Lightening McQueen pj top. When he arrives on the scene all the kids are in various states of undress and one boy is running around proudly without his shirt enjoying the freedom!
Snap of me laughing by my son

Again: if you have boys THIS WILL make you LAUGH!
A NYC Cockroach, a requested photo by my son!

Another funny story of Jay's concerns telling his sons to just "get out of the house" one day when he had gotten particularly angry at them. He tells how 2 hours later he calls them back inside only to discover all 3 of them are soaking wet from the chest down, one son has a "dog poop" snow ball in his hand and the little one is dragging home a prosthetic leg. When asked where they had been, all three said " I don't know."

Oh my, it makes me smile just to write this all down. Our family has been blessed with a host of little boys who are now all grown men, and our 8 year old is towing the obligatory male line quite nicely. It is different raising boys then it is girls, no question. How do I know that for certain you might ask, because I WAS a little girl. Boys just make me laugh! They have a free spirited way about them that can lead them into trouble without even trying. Many girls have an intensity that can border on the hyper critical or analytical. Boys just "are", girls "do."

Just the other day our son regaled us with tales of the playground whereby the boys were all trying to spank each other as hard as they could. Some boys were quite better at it then others, and my son spoke in glowing terms of being able to take a swat quite heartily from one of these champions of spank. Again, SO funny as my girly sensibilities inside my head were screaming
" WHAT!!! DO ANY OF YOU BOYS HAVE A BRAIN?" OK, I admit it, maybe this was not the most mindful thing to say in the moment but it WAS said with humor in my heart and a smile on my lips! While out of my mouth came the words " I am not sure if that is such a good activity to be pursuing at recess." 

But I had to admit, it made me LAUGH and it made my husband laugh too when I told him about it later that same day! BOYS!!!

Japanese Beetles as snapped by my son
So take heart parents of little men, they do indeed seem to get into the most unbelievable of adventures, but ONE day they will grow up and have little men of their own. And that will be a most eye opening experience for them all! I often wonder just HOW they make it to adulthood alive!!!???

So Smile! It makes your face look happy!! And from what researchers tell us, it might just make you feel better too!




Monday, September 10, 2012

Random Kindness at Subway

The author Anne Herbert is most frequently credited with having originated the expression "practice random acts of kindness and senseless acts of beauty." Today this quote is second nature to most of us. It would also seem that many people are not only understanding of this turn of phrase, but carrying it out to its fullest potential as well. 

                                  Here is what happened:

I found myself waiting in line at a Subway sandwich shop one recent evening. There was only one person behind the counter making sandwiches and, from what I could tell, she was the only employee working in the store that night. I was in line with about 8 or 9 other customers and 3 people were ahead of me.  The employee took each order and preceded to create the sandwiches one by one with precision and care.  Subway appears to have a systematic approach to making sandwiches allowing each customer to feel like they are receiving specialized attention. This young, lone employee embodied that fact most seriously, taking her time despite the line looming before her eyes. Bravo to her!

Two of the 3 people ahead of me were together. They were a  young couple, probably dating and in their late teens. Just as she was finishing up with their order the store attendant turned her attention momentarily to the next woman in line and asked her what she would be needing made. This woman had been standing there the entire time clutching some single dollar bills in her left hand. She asked rather nervously how much it would cost to make a 6 inch versus a one foot sub. She was given a price, seemed visibly relieved, as her shoulders relaxed downward. The store attendant finished ringing up the young couple and they left with their two subs.

Next, she turned her full attention again to the lady in front  of me and said "The couple who just left paid for your sandwich." I heard this statement clear as bell and felt my face light up in a broad smile. The woman had no idea what was being told to her. The clerk repeated her statement and you could see the slow dawning of realization on her face as she turned to me and said excitedly " I can't let them go without thanking them!" She quickly ran to the door of the store yelling thank you out into the parking lot. She came back to complete her order repeating again and again how hard things were for her financially right now and that this sandwich was a treat for her daughter. And how very nice it was for those people to pay for her sandwich. She was delighted at the kindness shown to her that day and will probably carry the thought of it with her for some time.

You could also feel how all of us in line felt lifted up by being a witness to this random act of kindness. One woman in line even said out loud "Random acts of kindness really do happen!" and we all agreed! Even the man behind me who up till now was pacing back and forth and clearly wanting to get the line moving faster. He now smiled and relaxed into the moment too. 


If this story has helped to inspire you, here is a website devoted to ideas for anyone including students, teachers and organizations interested in providing Random Acts of Kindness to those who need it most.  Sometimes the biggest boost we get to lifting our spirits or making our own difficulties seem a bit lighter is when we can do something for someone else no matter how small the gesture. 

http://www.randomactsofkindness.org/

In the words of that oh so famous Alka Seltzer commercial from the 60's, "Try it, you'll like it!"And just maybe, you will start a trend!

Monday, September 3, 2012

Simply Simplify

This is a motto that I have come to fully appreciate as I move into the second or possibly third quadrant of my life. (Who knows maybe I make it to 100 maybe I do not.  I am guessing not!) I am only speaking for myself here, but I grow antsy with the accumulation of STUFF that gathers around me in my closets, basement and garage. 

No, this is not a hoarding situation I speak of nor is it an over abundance of stuff from reckless spending sprees. This is just the accumulation of things that once served some useful purpose but no longer are deemed worthy of even a passing glance. They sit gathering dust on shelves and cupboards or in darkened boxes where the light of day never penetrates. This is the sum total of things no longer being loved, played with or displayed proudly. In short, their meaning has been lost along the way somewhere and it is time to give them all a new life, home or meaning.

We talked for years about having a massive yard sale. But the thought of gathering up all the things from their hidden hideaways, to place in our garage awaiting sale day just seemed too insurmountable a task. Plus, last time we did a massive clean up of the basement my husband wound up with a double hernia afterward. He was having surgery the day before Thanksgiving two years ago. Not fun I can assure you. 

So, we slowly started to give things away to friends and to a local charity, Families in Transition, for their use and pleasure. It felt great to see the things start to dwindle: suitcases, bicycles, photograph equipment, handbags, professional photo printer, negative scanner, and various other things as well.

There was a welcome sense of letting go, but a bit of tension still ensued as the biggest clean out had yet to be tackled: my sons huge book collection and playroom toys. AGH!!! This was not something my husband or I wanted to face, and yet we had to get it done. The books were weeded through at the start of this summer and lovingly donated to Families in Transition. Now all that was left was the playroom. So it sat undone for several more months until a opportunity came along to make us all feel more motivated about the process.

We had some work done on our home recently and the contractors have become quite close to us over the last year or so. It would seem that there are four grandchildren in the family. Their grandmother was asked and she excitedly agreed that going through the playroom would be fun. I forewarned her that  the task at hand was going to be overwhelming as my son had accumulated years of lovingly given toys and playthings that had come his way from family and friends. She laughed, sat down crossed-legged on the floor and held back no shyness as she carefully searched through the bins to choose what she wanted. I was so happy to see her unabashed delight that was so infectious!

So, rather then running from or avoiding the task at hand as we had been up till now,  it became game-like going through bin after bin after bin of toys giving her more and more and more stuff! But, what I loved even more was her enthusiasm and total lack of self consciousness  as she relished the task of putting big smiles on all her grand kids faces.   Before long, 7 or 8 large boxes and bins, along with two soft toy boxes FULL of STUFF were carried up to await her daughters arrival. 

I cannot begin to tell you what it meant for me to see the look on one of of her granchildren's face when he saw all the wonderful toys waiting on the driveway to be placed into his mom's van. Without any prompting this little 4 year old boy turned to me and said "Shanks fa ah da toyz!" in a tiny, happy voice that needed NO interpretation. Her one year old granddaughter snuggled up to a musical flower that had been a favorite of my sons when he was 2!  It is great to give things away but I have to admit when you know to whom your things go and you see the joy it brings to them, the feeling is beyond words!


Our task was made all the easier and it took us only two and half hours to complete the clean out process this weekend. Oh what a feeling! The room is clean and sparkling and we all feel better for having finished it. Sure, we could have made several hundred bucks on a garage sale but the task was not one we wished to undertake, especially given my husbands former double hernia! So, I can truly say that for us, giving it away, while challenging to let go of all the memories, was in the end a job well worth it!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Meditation Class Starts Sept 17th in NH


                    Meditation: It's NOT what you THINK!

            New 6 Week class starting Monday September 17th

                                            7:30 to 9PM

How to Register: Click this link for more information.

If you ever wondered about meditation and how it might fit into your life, this might just be the class for you. Each week will introduce students to different types of meditation techniques. This will enable you to choose what works best and fits your own routine comfortably once the course has ended.

We have all seen the imagery of Buddha meditating, such as the photo I snapped above at IMS in Barre, Ma. These are iconic images emblazoned in our minds that may seem a bit incongruous to our fast paced, give it to me now, non stop, 24/7/365 lifestyle.

There are ways to bring a sense of calm and focus to our lives that can be nicely worked into our day or week without having to sit for long hours on a cushion, in some remote locale, trying to gain a sense of peace. Sounds great, but how practical is this visage in our daily lives? For most of us, not very realistic.

All you need to bring is an open mind and the willingness to learn new things and maybe, just maybe, you might find a sense of space, calm or insight in the midst of life as we know it!

                                        PLEASE NOTE:                                          

The Silent Sit Meditation nights that are held every Tuesday at Full Spectrum Wellness in Manchester, NH will resume on September 11th. If you have not been yet, it is a wonderful chance to meditate with a group, in a beautiful space that is very conducive for meditation. I have heard people say it is hard to find time, much less a space to meditate in their homes. Plus, sometimes it is just plain easier to meditate among like-minded people! So, come anytime and "sit" with us.  If you are ever running late, just enter the room quietly and take a seat. Also, you can choose to be with us for one or more Tuesdays, it is totally up to you. $5.00 weekly fee.

                                     7:30 PM to 8:30 PM


Full Spectrum Wellness • 55 S. Commercial St. • Manchester, NH 03101 • TEL: 603.296.0830 • 

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Vacations Equal Rest, Right?

Pirates Cove Beach


My husband, son and I just recently returned from a one month stay at the beautiful Rye Beach area of New Hampshire. A truly lovely stretch of shore line that is a gem among beaches on the East Coast. Known for its flat, packed sand areas that emerge during low tide. It is a terrific spot to build sand castles and dig holes, a favorite past time of anyone of any age especially judging from the array and abundance of structures and pits we saw littered about on the beach. In fact, to steal a line from an often quoted movie "Field of Dreams" "If you build it, they will come." I used that line on my son quite often since all it took was the makings of small hole to lure in any child within a quarter mile radius. Appreciative glances from sun kissed kids abounded as my son heard "cool" "awesome" and "whatcha doing?" so many times over the course of our summer weeks. It is a lure to be sure.
Ty with one of his massive construction sites

Now for me, the beach has been a draw since I was a tot running semi-naked on sandy shores from Cape Cod, MA to to Wildwood, NJ. I love the smell of the tangy salt air and still feel my heart quicken when we get closer to the ocean. Nothing thrills me more and I expect nothing ever will come close to a sun filled day at the beach. Nothing.

I am proud to say, I consider myself quite a beach bum and have perfected the skill over many years into an art form that is pure and true. For me, the beach means a sturdy, comfortable chair that is not too low to the ground (alas, my arthritic knees and ankles cannot move with as much ease as they did in my youth) a beach hat that covers my head and prevents my thinning scalp line from burning while protecting a good portion of my face and neck. I use one made by Scala, purchased on Nantucket last summer,  that is broad brimmed, made of cotton, crushable, machine washable and quite frankly the best in my opinion. My husband favors hats made by Tilley, which are indeed excellent as well, just not my style. I have my favorite beach sandals or flips made by Reef. They are the most comfortable I have ever worn and if someone is in need of a bottle opener, the bottom of each sandal has one built right in. And yes, it has come in handy on occasion both for us and for other fellow beach mates.

Typically I also bring a light weight, waterproof back pack that is loaded down with canisters and bottles of sunblock, my prescription sunglasses, and books to read. Reading on the beach, if you have not done so, is quite simply sublime. I have read quite a few books this summer with a water theme no less: Linda Greenlaw's "Lobster Chronicles" and A. Manette Ansay's "Blue Water" were two of my favorites. Although, I did also happen to pick up a used copy of "The Perfect Storm" while vacationing and fell in love with its detailed account of that incredile storm felt by so many of us along the East Coast two decades ago. The book went into far more detail then the Hollywood made, George Clooney starring movie, and is truly worth the read for those who like me adore reading true, action adeventure. I love books that pit people against nature, be it on the sea, or snow covered mounrtain, I am in awe of natures ability to foil most of us into a false sense of security.

Lastly, I bring my boogie board. Yep. Fifty years old and still loving the waves! Although this year was made even more special by the addition of wet suits. The water in Rye does not typically warm up until August, so 60 degrees is fairly typical tempreratures for early summer. My son, who is lean and mean and carries little if any body fat on his torso loves the ocean but cannot last too long. We purchased a wet suit for him that enabled him to stay out for long periods of time in the cold Atlantic, so much so that my husband and I got jealous and decided we needed one too! So when my nephew came to stay with us one weekend, we all rented them, as a sort of test drive. Incredible! They made all the difference. We were all riding the waves in warmth and comfort that was so worth it. For those wet suit phobic people, it would seem that all the locals wear them, and to not wear one labels you a day tripper, bennie, or whatever term is used here in NH for those folks that do not live along the coast. So, I see a wet suit in my future for next summer.

Ty and my husband looking very Rye Beach!

The next best thing for all of us to do on the beach is to search for sea life among the newly exposed rocks just as the tide is at its lowest point. That is when you are able to find starfish, hermit crabs, tiny crabs, large crabs, snails, periwinkles, sea urchins and this year, to my son's great joy, an eel! All would be gently transferred from our nets into two green buckets along with some sand and rocks for the the comfort of our travelers. The buckets would be hauled back to our beach chairs for my son's temporary viewing pleasure as our rule of thumb is what ever you find gets returned ALIVE to the sea prior to our departure. I do hope this is a rule others practice as well.

We also bring along a few Frisbees, beach tennis and bocce ball for our more active times on the sand.  I am confounded however by the vast array of sports being played on the beach. Everything from soccer to Whiffleball and football. All of this is great fun to watch but is most unfortunate that many decide to play within close range of babies, tots and everyone else on the beach. I saw more then one child get struck by a football. In fact, there was one uber mom who thought she could show off to her young teenage boys. She had a great throwing arm, but lacked skill at catching the football and almost ran down a tiny girl under one year old,  sitting one the beach laughingly soaking up the sun, oblivious. Could have been a recipe for disaster! I was almost struck, as were friends of ours as well. So while it is most relaxing to head to the beach, you may need to keep your peripheral vision out for all the weekend warriors who use the beach as their personal sports arena.

Our stay was most restful, although it was tinged with a degree of upheaval and sadness. Alas, we said goodbye to our 16 year old beloved Siamese cat, Noah, the night before we left on vacation. That was so hard.  We got word in the first week that my husbands mother has untreatable lung cancer which brought even more sad news into our lives. Next, my husband broke off a piece of his tooth eating a cherry that first weekend on the beach.  I fell, or almost fell, (trust me, the sight of me almost falling was quite amusing as I stumbled trying to regain my balance) at a water park hurting my already sore ankle even more so. Our son found out he needed some minor surgery. (All went well, I am happy to report.) A friend's son came out of the water with a bloody nose, looking a bit dazed from his boogie board slamming into his face.  Last but not least,  I had my brand new body board, purchased that morning from Pioneers Surf Shop, mauled by a Pit Bull with me still attached to it!

Despite it all we had an wonderful time and look forward each summer to our time to recharge, reboot and rejuvenate our minds, hearts and spirit as only the beach can do for this family.