Gangsta Butterfly

Rain of any kind in SoCal is something to be grateful for because for a brief moment, we can enjoy green and lush hills and gardens.

Now that we’re back to sunshiny blue skies again, I took pics of the lawn ‘cos it’ll never look this velvety smooth again.

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Even though I have the flu or some version of it in spite of a flu shot, no way would I miss spending an entire day working in the garden. Dirty hands, twigs in my hair, muddy shoes. HEAVENLY.

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But I wasn’t alone.

This happy gangsta butterfly not only followed me everywhere I was, but sat on my head for a few marvelous seconds, too! It’s too bad I couldn’t snap a pic but it was impossible, so you’ll have to trust me. Fluttering and flapping wings all around my face and head. And listen to the birds! So much joy.

Was there a message or a lesson the butterfly was attempting to convey? Or maybe just a shared joie de vivre?

We can coexist in peace, my friendly Mourning Cloak butterfly.

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Yes, s/he was upside down or maybe I was upside down? It’s all in your perspective. Totally LOVING the apple blossoms.

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Knowing that our rains are brief, all the plants put their best foot forward. The rosemary is a riot of blue flowers and bees.

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Bees, so many bees!

 

Happy all planets direct and Super Blood Wolf Moon eclipse tonight!

 

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A Slice of Covert Racism

On a recent flight back home, I was sitting in my usual choice of an aisle seat mostly because I don’t like to crawl over strange legs when I need to use the restroom.

An older (older than me) woman crawled over me to take the window seat.

A young man was escorted to his seat directly across from me by a flight attendant who commented on his height and asked him how old he was as he was flying as an unaccompanied minor.

He was nine-years-old and about six feet tall.

Just a little boy in a man sized body.

I could feel his embarrassment as he was singled out for his height and I’m sure has had to endure a zillion comments about it.

He was very quiet, but seemed a little scared, so I chatted with him a bit, and he was very sweet. His dad was picking him up and he would be starting school in San Diego. He began to open up and just as I suspected, he was a little boy who didn’t really know how to deal with the fact that he looked like he was in high school.

The older woman next to me said, in a very heavy southern accent, “I should get his autograph now, he’s going to be famous.”

I didn’t respond to her right away because I wanted to give her the benefit of the doubt or maybe I had misinterpreted what she was alluding to, but she repeated herself loud enough for the young man to hear, and I felt that I needed to do something.

I said, “What are you saying? That because he’s tall, his only life path is basketball?”

She looked at me and said, “Well, he’s tall…” and then her voice and thought faded.

I replied loud enough for anyone to hear, “Maybe he’s going to be a doctor. Or a professor. Or an artist or a writer. Just because someone has a physical trait doesn’t mean it’s a life sentence. He can and should do whatever touches his heart.”

The woman had so much ingrained covert racism built into her that she didn’t really know what to say, but a few minutes later she told me that she thought about it and agreed with me, so then we had a pleasant rest of the flight.

Did I change her?

Probably not, but the grateful smile I received from a nine-year-old made my day.

(And did I really need to mention that he was a six foot tall African American nine-year-old child or did you figure that out for yourselves?)

And then I saw this photo of Trump serving fast food to the Clemson team.
More covert or not so covert racism. Love Reggie Bush’s tweet.

Best Mantra for 2019: Om So Hum

so humHappy 2019!

I’ve been meditating on a fairly regular basis for a while.

While I love the effects of silently repeating Om Mani Padme Om, the Dalai Lama’s favorite mantra, I find that So Hum or Om So Hum is the mantra that works best for me in the morning, which is my favorite time to start the day with positive intentions.

Regular meditation helps to relieve stress and improve the quality of sleep. The goal of less stress is to achieve a happier and healthier life. It’s believed that meditation improves the immune system and thereby helps in controlling blood pressure and lowering blood cholesterol.

I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

So Hum

I am.

(Or, I am that.)

From Sanskrit, it means identifying oneself with the universe or ultimate reality.

As we meditate on this, we come to realize that we are all one–we have all come from one Infinite Source, and a part of that infinite source is present in all of us.

We are all connected.

Powerful. Peaceful. Grateful.

OM is the sound of universe.

Chanting Om So Hum daily for ten to fifteen minutes can relax the breathing and balance our inner energy flow.

  • Close your eyes and settle in by taking a few deep, cleansing breaths. Note how you feel in your mind and body.
  • Start to repeat the mantra So Hum or Om So Hum to yourself silently, slowly synching the rhythm of your breath to the mantra.
  • As you inhale, silently repeat the word “Om“
  • As you exhale, silently repeat the words “So Hum
  • Continue breathing slowly and aligning your mantra to your breath, being careful not to rush your breath if you notice your mantra speeding up.
  • Each time you notice your mind start to wander, gently draw your attention back to your silent mantra.

This is really cool…

This. Is who I am.

Okie dokie.

What did you think about my recent post about finding a local source for Chanel and other high end designer goods?

Loved it? Don’t really care? First world problems? Entitlement issues?

Angst. I suffer. Truly I do.

On the same day I purchased my new Chanel sunnies, I was still riding the sweet endorphin rush and made a beeline to Rite Aid to see what was on clearance as a way to detox myself.

Here’s where you’ll get to know the real me. To walk in my stilettos for a brief moment; to feel compassion for the crazy that I am, and which I fully OWN, by the way.

This is complicated, so follow closely.

Do you see these three bottles of nail polish?

(I’m assuming you are all nodding your heads.)

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It’s a low end brand but that doesn’t mean low quality. The polish lasts quite a while and doesn’t chip-while it’s not $10 Opi or Essie quality, it’s perfectly acceptable especially if you’re quirky like me and change your colors on a whim. One day I’m sparkly and the next day I’m red hot.

You get the picture…

But that’s not this story NOR my dilemma.

Bear in mind that I JUST spent a small fortune on new sunnies and the price tag didn’t make me flinch. Notwithstanding THAT, I am really very thrifty. Frugal, even.

The nail polish brand must have been discontinued because there were signs offering a deal. If you purchased two at the regular price of 99 cents, the third one was 24 cents.

So random. 24 CENTS? Honestly, who came up with THAT number?

But my convoluted thought process was working overtime. Do I NEED three new colors? NOT REALLY.

But how can I pass this deal up? I did a quick calculation and discovered the price would be $2.22 for all of them.

You prob think this is a no brainer, right?

NOPE. Not for me.

I agonized for a good ten minutes, talking to myself (in my head, not OUT LOUD, sheesh) about the necessity and/or waste of $2.22 when I really only wanted ONE color, and then I asked myself (again, IN MY HEAD) whether or not I could walk away from a deal like that and might I not find a use for the other two colors at some point in the coming months.

It was excruciatingly painful to be in my orbitofrontal cortex,  anterior cingulate cortex, the striatum, and my thalamus at that moment. You wouldn’t want to be in there, trust me.

All the odd OCD synapses were firing at the same time.

I mean, do you see the insanity? How can I explain it to anyone when it makes no sense to myself?

If you move the decimal point over a bit, you can figure out about how much I spent on new sunnies. (Well, more, but who’s counting.)

I had less angst over THAT amount of money than I did with the $2.22.

What did I do?

Holding your breath?

I bought all three.

NOT SO FAST.

Actually, I first decided not to, and was walking to the shelf to put them back, and then I thought I was being BEYOND mental and completely ridiculous, so I changed my mind.

Whew.

I’ve had some tough decisions to make in my life but this ranks right up there with the most insane waste of time about virtually nothing significant. (Like the time I stressed about driving twenty miles to take back a $2 ball of twine. Which I eventually kept. Read all about it here.)

I told you I suffer from angst. I really really do.

Believe it.

A Pink Lego Handbag. OMFG.

After writing about the dark night of the soul, I thought it’d be a good time to raise our collective spirits with a bright white uplifting #retailtherapy experience–you could say I underwent a Jungian shadow moment.

Carl Jung stated the shadow to be the unknown dark side of the personality. According to Jung, the shadow, in being instinctive and irrational, is prone to psychological projection, in which a perceived personal inferiority is recognized as a perceived moral deficiency in someone else.(Wikipedia)

So I guess I’m now healthy and balanced and that’s our ultimate goal, right?

Since I decided that I NEEDED (need as opposed to WANT) a new pair of sunglasses,  I performed my usual high level due diligence research. My options were to drive to South Coast Plaza in Newport Beach OR take my chances with whatever styles were available at Nordstrom or Bloomingdales. All of those locations are not in my little town and with holiday traffic, I knew it’d be hellish parking.

BUT WAIT.

Apparently there’s a new game in town. How did I never know about this? How? It’s inconceivable that a biz could open HERE that specializes in high end designer goods and it slipped in under my radar? I can speculate that I’ve been a bit preoccupied with certain personal issues and while that might well be true –but if I had only known, perhaps it would have softened the extent of my pain.

Enough ruminating. It’s here, and to coin a phrase from one of my fave Seinfeld episodes, it’s “spectacular.”

This is a tease; I won’t actually give specifics yet. But this should make you salivate.

You know how sometimes a company gets it right from the very first moment? Like they’ve done their homework with fonts and graphics and design and PR and marketing and customer relations?

That’s this place.

The website drew me in and I was hooked.

But I really wasn’t prepared for the ENTIRE EXPERIENCE.

It’s at the end of a cul de sac in the business area of our city, not a regular retail location.

There’s a security gate and an actual guard who checks you in.

VIP parking stalls.

And then I walked in. OH EM GEE.

Bright white walls, bright lighting. All dressed up for Christmas.

And the PINK LEGO HANDBAG. See? I wasn’t kidding around. It’s GIGANTIC. Like almost as big as me and I’m FIVE FEET TALL.

img_6371And look at the holiday decor. AWESOME. Well done.

img_6372When I arrived, I was greeted by two lovely smiling ladies and offered a bottle of water, and I’m not talking the low end generic stuff. I’m talking about Fuji Water. FANCY water.

Since I was looking for sunglasses, specifically CHANEL, I was given a tablet connected to their online website and catalogue and told to choose up to 10 items to see at one time. Those choices would be brought down to me from the warehouse area. When my sunglasses arrived, I was directed to a seating area to try them on and decide if I wanted to make a purchase.

It was so easy. I pretty much already knew which style I wanted and when I tried them on, it was as perfect as I had anticipated.

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A quick bit of plastic exchanged hands for a minute and then my purchase was presented in a lovely bag with lots of little marketing materials.

A wonderful retail therapy day!

Here’s me with zero makeup but a huge happy smile cos I LOVE my purchase.

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Nice shades, huh?

Sometimes it’s what you don’t see

Right this minute, there’s nothing to see here except for a fence and a pine tree.

Not a bad view as far as views go, but it’s what happened seconds BEFORE I snapped this pic that makes it memorable.

For me; sadly, not for you.

So it’s a memory stored somewhere in my hippocampus and now hold on a sec, I need to save this draft and swiftly do some research to make sure I’m right.

OK, I’m back and here’s what Google taught me…

Deep inside the medial temporal lobe is the region of the brain known as the limbic system, which includes the hippocampus, the amygdala, the cingulate gyrus, the thalamus, the hypothalamus, the epithalamus, the mammillary body and other organs, many of which are of particular relevance to the processing of memory.

I’m right; memories are stored in the hippocampus.

Use your imagination because I’ll try to explain what you didn’t get to experience:

In the photo, if you pretend you can see what you can’t see, the bottom of the fence that you can only see about half of, there’s a potting table.

I was standing there planting lavender that I had propagated myself. I’ve been doing that for years with a decent amount of success, and it was time to birth another lavender baby.

I wasn’t making a lot of noise, but I wasn’t quiet, either…I was fully immersed in the whole procedure, enjoying the blueblue sky and eighty-five degree weather.

There was a cooling mug of ginger tea next to me and next to that was my phone.

I looked up as two doves flew out of that pine tree.

At almost precisely that same exact time. a HUGE redtailed hawk (who must have been stalking the doves) perched himself on the the fence.

He was LITERALLY INCHES AWAY FROM ME.

I mean, if I had longer arms, I could have reached out and touched his beautiful feathers.

REALLY REALLY.

His golden eyes looked right at me and they widened, as if he was surprised-like WTF human–but he wasn’t nearly as astonished as I was. I froze. We stayed that way, eye to eye, gazing at each other for an eternity of probably less than five seconds before he launched himself off the fence and flew away. There was no fear, simply the connection between the hawk and myself.

It was a MOMENT.

I am not at all kidding; to look into the mystical magical gaze of a hawk and see the recognition that he was trying to make sense of the encounter as much as I was–is HUGE.

Moment-ous. Important.

Regretfully, no pics to share. But I’ll never ever forget the way he looked at me. Eye to eye.

I read that November 11, 2018 is a memorable time in this Universe. If you believe in things like this, it’s SIGNIFICANT.

And I believe that my hawk experience was significant, too. And if not, it was so so beautiful and made me happy and joyful and grateful. All good stuff.

Happy Sunday, y’all!

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Jungle Jack Hanna says, “Touch the mind, teach the heart.”

****I don’t really agree with Jack’s philosophy which is one reason why I wanted to meet him. His passion for animals is real and I admire him for that, but his ardent defense of SeaWorld is something he and I disagree about.***


A couple weeks ago, I was savoring a cup of perfectly brewed French Roast while watching Cesar Millan, The Dog Whisperer, on Saturday morning television. (As an aside, his ability to connect with dogs seems truly amazing.)

I forgot the TV was on, scrolling through my Facebook feed, when I heard an advertisement about Jungle Jack Hanna coming to the San Diego area. In a sparkle of synchronicity, when I looked up, there was an episode of Jack Hanna’s Wild Countdown. You know who he is, right? He’s been around forever on all the late night talk shows. Often with his wife by his side, attired in his khaki uniform, he’s a virtual fountain of animal knowledge.

John Bushnell “Jack” Hanna is an American zookeeper, Director Emeritus of the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium. He was director of the zoo from 1978 to 1992, and is viewed as largely responsible for elevating its quality and reputation. He’s the host of TV’sEmmy award winning Jack Hanna’s Into the Wild and Jack Hanna’s Wild Countdown.

We have a bit of a difference of opinion about Seaworld and zoos in general, and while he concedes that certain things about Blackfish were a real portrayal of what happened with the whales, he’s a staunch and passionate supporter of their rescue skills and education programs.

Some of the conversation I jotted down as we were talking, with his approval:

He is involved as a person who supported Seaworld since the beginning.
Blackfish is trash.
Very big proponent of Seaworld’s conservation efforts.
Manatees were going extinct –and Seaworld saved them.
Disappointed with people who hate Seaworld.

He asked me a rhetorical (in my opinion) question, ‘How do we learn about the animals?”
He doesn’t agree with anything that might harm the animal.

He made a point I have to agree with. There are no real completely wild places left in this world. When he’s filming, his guidelines are to respect the animals, don’t teach them to do anything unnatural. Back off, or don’t interfere or interrupt the kill.

I know that he works with the critically endangered mountain gorillas in Rwanda and they hold a special place in his heart. I was recently at the zoo in Seattle and took my grandson to see the gorillas (a favorite animal), and it was heartbreaking to see them. They looked completely depressed to me, and desperately need their habitat improved. There were blankets strewn about on the dirt ground and it looked as sad as a homeless encampment.

I had plans to ask him more questions, but there wasn’t time as he had to prepare for his flight to San Diego.

Here are the topics I didn’t get to broach with him:
What do you think about the current admin’s decision to reduce the size of our national parks?
*Ditto: Killing of hibernating bears
*Ditto: Drilling for oil
*Ditto: Delisting wolves

The show started at 6pm and I made sure I was there in plenty of time to get a little backstage time, if possible. I was pleasantly surprised that it was a packed house with so many people interested in learning about animals.

Jack was very hospitable- a complete gentleman- and made time to take a selfie with me:

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Unfortunately, something went wrong with my Canon Rebel T3i , so all I have are the pics I took with my iPhone.

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***These were all rescued animals, none were taken from their native habitat.***

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It was pretty funny when the kangaroo got to run around the room but it happened so fast, I didn’t get any video.

While we don’t completely agree on several issues, I have mad respect for Jungle Jack Hanna’s passion for wildlife conservation, as well as his very obvious love for his wife of 47 years, his children and grandchildren.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Best Mantra for 2018: Om Mani Padme Hum

I’m pretty new to meditation (dabbled a bit in college but it didn’t stick) and I’m restarting with the basics.

In terms of actually practicing mindfulness and compassion (to self and others) – these are things I’ve sporadically attempted for a few years.

I think it all started during an annual exam when my lady doc suggested something in between my Pap Smear and and the breast exam: every morning, I need to look in the mirror and say “I love you” to myself.

I told her I couldn’t possibly; it was embarrassing, what was the point, and she said in addition to filling my body with healthy foods and wheat grass, turmeric, ginger, and Vitamin D (I was deficient at the time), that loving oneself is another and very important piece of the puzzle needed to attain an optimal level of wellbeing.

When the La Costa Chopra Center used to host one-hour meditations in the afternoon, I attended a few times with friends and it was a good re-introduction, but I’m more of a solitary soul and would rather do my internal discovery not in the company of strangers, no matter how kind…

It’s all about rewiring our brain-using neuroplasticity to change negative thoughts and belief patterns into positive actions and a joyful future.

Meeting the Dalai Lama was a significant experience that opened my eyes (and my heart) and encouraged me to follow an inward searching path.

Om Mani Padme Hum is an ancient mantra related to the bodhisattva of compassion, Avalokiteshvara, and with the Dalai Lama, who is considered to be an incarnation of Avalokiteshvara. It is believed that all the teachings of the Buddha are contained in this mantra.

Tibetan Buddhists believe that by saying Om Mani Padme Hum out loud or silently to oneself invokes the powerful benevolent attention and blessings of Chenrezig, the embodiment of compassion.

From His Holiness the Dalai Lama:

It is very good to recite the mantra Om mani padme hum, but while you are doing it, you should be thinking on its meaning, for the meaning of the six syllables is great and vast …. The first, OM … symbolizes the practitioner’s impure body, speech, and mind; it also symbolizes the pure exalted body, speech, and mind of a Buddha…. The path is indicated by the next four syllables. MANI, meaning jewel, symbolizes the … altruistic intention to become enlightened, compassionate and loving…. The two syllables, PADME, meaning lotus, symbolize wisdom…. Purity must be achieved by an indivisible unity of method and wisdom, symbolized by the final syllable HUM, which indicates indivisibility…. Thus the six syllables, om mani padme hum, mean that in dependence on the practice of a path which is an indivisible union of method and wisdom, you can transform your impure body, speech, and mind into the pure exalted body, speech, and mind of a Buddha….

All I know for sure is that when I say or think Om Mani Padme Hum, no matter how sad or anxious or stressed I feel, even when I wake up at 3AM in a panic, a certain calmness and quiet joy washes over me.

As we leave one year and transition to another, I wanted to share this with you and hope you also find solace and wisdom in this mantra.

Happy New Year!

An Afternoon’s Journey

I know other parts of the country are freezing, buried under a mountain of snow, but here in SoCal, it was about seventy-five degrees and sunny (don’t hate).

It was the perfect day for a hike in the back country to inhale sandy, dirty trails and think about setting positive intentions for 2018.

We drove for a couple of hours (to a secret spot) and started walking. As the sun rose to its celestial meridian, I started shedding layers.

Does this look like it could be a Native American bedrock metate?

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Beautiful fruiting manzanita; well, I think it’s manzanita…

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We know it’s a going to be a great day when the trails are heavily strewn with coyote scat!

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And this remnant of a coyote or bobcat’s meal. Upon close inspection, it looks like part of a tail but I’m not too sure how it ended up perched on the dried grass.

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Steep and rocky.

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Stopping for a snack and water, the perfect time to touch up dry lips with a little Chanel. I’m always prepared!

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Who says leaves don’t change color in Southern California?

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There’s really nothing more soul satisfying than exerting oneself physically until you’re bone tired and then eating a huge late lunch (with french fries) and feeling zero guilt about the amount of calories consumed!

#gratitude #nature #hiking #backcountry