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!

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Warning: This is not about happy cows

Cc0kDT8WEAAsZG0NO NO NO NO. Do not turn away or scroll past this. This is US. (well, not me specifically, but collectively as part of the (in)human(e) race.

We need to see this.

YOU need to see this.

It needs to resonate with us to our very core.

STOP EATING MEAT AND drinking the breast milk of other species!

Don’t say you love animals and write “rescue” on your FB profile if you plan to grill a steak tonight or make some cheesy lasagna or buy a pair of Uggs.

Stop contributing to the cruelty of animals. Stop being a hypocrite.

We will never right the wrongs or stop the torture these innocent animals have endured and will continue to endure until our collective conscience changes.

This is disturbing, but what is more disturbing is the lack of compassion for other living things.

It’s hard to live in such a cruel world. It really is. When are we going to rise up and demand the end to needless slaughter of innocent animals?

**These dairy farmers face charges for allegedly torturing cows with weapons, including blowtorches (warning: graphic)

featured image courtesy of https://t.co/cq0NHFIdHM

Just Sunday, that’s all…

I spent the entire day with one of my oldest friends. We had lost touch for many years but picked up the thread as if it were only hours between chats, and not the chasm of time that separated us.

It was my fault. I wasn’t there for her when she needed me. I apologized and she forgave me.

So simple. True. Honest. Authentic.

Here are three of my favorite things to celebrate and be grateful for on this kind of overcast and cloudy Sunday.

for-blog

inner-child

RoseOct5

 

The First Day of Autumn Brings an Injured But Still Beautiful Monarch Butterfly to Our Garden

Perhaps it’s because this is the first day of autumn that coincides with my Angel Boy’s half birthday (we always celebrate) or because he really has left the nest for real this time with his first tenure track professorship (at least on the west coast so we’re closer) but I’m feeling a sense of change along with the the season.

Even in SoCal the weather will eventually morph into a winter of sorts and maybe that’s why this butterfly was in a weakened condition, because there’s no way to tell how the injury occurred,  but she was flying around me and then came to rest on the lawn right next to my new raised bed where I was playing around with the sand dolllars from yesterday’s post.2015-09-20 22.03.25

How do you help an injured butterfly? Can I pick her up and take her to the vet? Can you superglue the torn wing? (I don’t think so) but her ability to still lift off and float on the breeze made me think of her metaphorically.

In fact, it’s a day full of metaphors with my son flying off and away (literally on an airplane as I’m typing this) to become a fully fledged adult with a grown up job and a boatload of responsibility.

SIGH.

But then this butterfly visited me and I’m trying to decipher her deeper message, although maybe a butterfly is just a butterfly.

I do know that even though her wing was damaged, she didn’t give up; she was resilient.2015-09-20 22.03.12

Maybe she just needed a safe place to rest and heal.

monarch1

2015-09-20 22.01.12

And just like that, she flew away, carried off by the balmy breezes of another SoCal heat wave.
2015-09-20 22.02.56And thanks to a smarter blogger than me who writes over at https://pacificparatrooper.wordpress.com/ (you need to follow him!)  his brilliant comment referenced the “butterfly effect. According to Wiki, it’s a popular hypothetical example of chaos theory which illustrates how small initial differences may lead to large unforeseen consequences over time.

And he doesn’t know it, but this is SO TRUE. As I keep saying, all will be revealed…

Stay safe, my friends, and Happy Autumnal Equinox to everyone!

Compassion and Hypocrisy

compassionchalkboardtextI needed a few things at the crafts shop; glue sticks, jute, ModPodge, stuff like that.

Let’s clarify right from the beginning —  I live in what could be described as a sorta snooty beach town — home prices in the $700,000 to million dollar plus — a fair amount of discretionary spending — lots of ladies who go to the gym, spa, lunch, shop.

The crafts store I went to is in a smaller strip mall. I parked my car between a Lexus and a Mercedes (see?), grabbed a reusable bag from the trunk, and headed into the store.

It was a busy Sunday; by the way a lot of the (mostly) ladies were attired, it’s obvious they had come directly from church — this is SoCal so nobody doesn’t wear flipflops unless they have to, and there were more flowery frocks than Lululemons.

As I’m walking toward the store, DIRECTLY to the left of the automatic double glass doors  —  in plain sight — was a man sprawled out on the sidewalk. You couldn’t tell if he was sleeping. Or if he was dead. He had no blanket, no pillow, nothing except a well-worn paper bag near his feet.

JUST LYING ON THE SIDEWALK.

I looked around and there were no less than three other women walking toward the crafts mecca along with me.

NO ONE even glanced in his direction, but it’s not like you could avoid seeing him.

He was RIGHT there.

They had to make a CONSCIOUS decision to ignore him.

I made eye contact with one woman who looked away, uncomfortably.

It was obvious that she did NOT want to engage in a conversation.

I went in the store, walked over the first employee I saw, and asked if he knew anything about the man that was either dead or alive outside his store.

He said, “Oh yeah, someone mentioned him.”

I said, “Well, has anyone checked to see if he’s OK, if he needs help, IF HE HAS A PULSE??”

He said, “Would you like me to call the manager”?

I said, “Yes, you do that.”

As I’m tapping my foot impatiently, waiting for the manager to appear and deal with ME, it was hard NOT to feel all the other women awkwardly look away from the SITUATION.

When the manager arrived, she said, “Are you the one who wants to know about that man?”

I said, “Yes, I’m the one. If you knew there was a human lying on the ground – he could be sick, he could be dead, he could be homeless — why did you not call someone to help him?”

(Watching out of the corner of my eye as other women avoided the aisle where we were standing.)

“Well, do you want me to call someone?”

I don’t f***ing believe this.

My blood pressure was rising — as was my voice.

“YES, PLEASE CALL SOMEONE TO SEE IF HE NEEDS HELP — OR I WILL, DO WE NOT LIVE IN A SUPPOSEDLY CIVILIZED COUNTRY? HOW CAN YOU ALL (as I point to the group of women who are listening) SIMPLY WALK BY AND NOT CARE?”

“YOU ARE ALL DISGUSTING.”

“He’s someone’s son or brother or father. What if he were YOUR son or brother or father?”

Yes, I said that.

If you want to know why I didn’t go up to him myself, its because I actually thought he was dead, and didn’t want to disturb a potential crime scene, and if he was sick, well, it’s not my job to offer medical assistance.

The manager called the police who arrived immediately, and it appeared that the man was indeed homeless, but was having some sort of medical condition and needed to be transported to a hospital — not life threatening, but he definitely didn’t need to suffer on the sidewalk.

As I stood in line waiting to purchase my glue sticks and other non-essentials, a woman thanked me for “doing something” and said she was planning to say something if I had not.

Well, people, I can’t be everywhere, so don’t wait for me.

SPEAK UP.

Whether it’s a sick and dirty homeless man or a mistreated animal or an abused child.

Be civilized. Be compassionate.

SAY SOMETHING.

DO SOMETHING.

Don’t just talk about it.

Don’t be a hypocrite.

DO SOMETHING, OK?

Compassion. DO. Help. NOW. Pass it on.

Seriously, a call for compassion in action.BETHEDROP

Mother Nature knows.

A single drop of water in a lake radiates energy to become larger and larger circles.

Isn’t that what social media is all about?

Isn’t this the beauty of it?

We share a thought or a joke or a (cat) picture with our friends and followers who in turn share with their friends and followers — and the circle multiplies.

And if we share a compassionate mindset, an awareness of being more caring and kind, each of us has within us the potential to influence and change the world to make it a better place.

We took this video during a camping vacay to Northern California.

Mother Nature’s Perfect Concentric Circles of Energy


Sometimes it takes more than words to effect change.

Sometimes ACTION is the answer.

I need your help

Not for myself, but for Dearborn Wolf Sanctuary.

Simply stated, here’s his mission: 

”We rescue wolves and wolf-hybrids that are unwanted, abused, etc. We give them a loving home with three acres to run and play, and all the food they can eat.”

I received an email this morning that touched my heart. (Tugboat man and I have kind of adopted Dearborn Wolf Sanctuary. His love and caring for the abused and neglected wolves and wolf-hybrids is an example of pure altruism.)

“I hate to bother u you have helped me so much and been so kind I really need help this month I had to pay $1000 for meds I’m flat broke I have no money for food for them so if u know anyone please send them to my page I use to 2 to 5 donations a month tell face book made me change my page I have about a week worth of food then they will be out they never been with out food since I started this sanctuary 15 years ago take care me.”

We can all relate to the fear of not having enough to eat, right?

Please extend a little compassion in action by donating some dollars to help him feed his wolves. Sacrifice your daily latte, any amount will help this worthy cause. If we all pitch in just a little — that’s all it takes to make a difference.

Flood his page with likes and follows! Dearborn Wolf Sanctuary Facebook Page:

1. Please donate. You can either send a money order or check to…

Dearborn Wolf Sanctuary
Mel Crockett
31 Cox Creek Lane
Cascade, Montana 59421

or

Paypal-  https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr…

2. Please spread the word to your own circle of influence. Just a click or two will help his animals get the food they need to survive.

3. I’m also asking for help to create a GoFundMe for him. I’ve never done it before; if anybody would like to work on a more sustainable form of support, I’d love to join forces.

4. Here’s a link to my post about Mel and his Dearborn Wolf Sanctuary.


P.S. Join me in donating and I’ll send you a gift, a GENUINE Princess Rosebud seashell necklace! Email your address to urjentbiz@gmail.com and I’ll pop it in the mail.

1000-Voices-Speak

Confession: I Was a Bully in Elementary School

1000-Voices-SpeakAlthough I wrote this post a while ago, it’s suitable for this month’s topic of Building from Bullying for the link up #1000 Speak for Compassion.


I Was a Bully in Elementary School

Well, sort of.

In the fifth grade at McCulloch Elementary School in Detroit, Michigan, I was accused of targeting another student in my class and being mean to her.

Back then, I wasn’t the assertive (read mouthy) b-yatch that I am now.

When another student pointed the finger at me and said I was the one who was spreading rumors and excluding another girl and generally being a total “mean girl”, I was pretty clueless.

I usually kept to myself; went to school, came home, attended my beloved ballet class which was all I really cared about, and never joined any of the “cliques”, not in any grade, even all the way through high school with the Frats or Greasers.

I mean, I was always the one who was made fun of ‘cos I wore glasses and for doing ballet and for my last name that rhymes with Frankenstein (I’ve heard that plenty of times), and because I was quiet and small and easy to push around (then, not now, that’s for sure).

I remember being sent to the principal’s office where I was subjected to a speech about how smart I was and how I shouldn’t use my quick wit to pick on other kids who didn’t have the same level of verbal skills that I had.

I tried to explain that I didn’t know what she was talking about and I don’t think I had done that for which I was being accused, but she mostly wanted to hear herself go on and on and when it was time for me to insert an apology and an “I won’t do it again”, I did.

I did and I shouldn’t have. I caved. It was pretty easy in those days to bully ME. I hated confrontations of any sort.

Not only did I not know how to stick up for myself, but the real bullies were the girls who falsely accused me.

I still don’t know why the real victim never told the truth about who her tormenters were.

I guess it was easier all around to paint me as the villain.

But I learned a valuable lesson or two from that incident.

Those feelings stayed with me all these years, and if I even ever thought that I was going to be mean to someone (less smart, less agile, less whatever) I thought of what the principal said to me, and not only did I hold my tongue and not be mean, I became an advocate for the less fortunate, those victims of circumstances beyond their control.

I stood up for the kids who were being ridiculed. I spoke out. I still do.

That clueless principal was deffo right about one thing; I do have a very sarcastic, witty side but I try not to use it to hurt, only to be funny.

Another life lesson that stayed with me to this day was to teach my son to have compassion; for the elderly, for the disadvantaged, for anyone mentally or physically challenged.

I told him that all his brains and academic accomplishments pale in comparison to being kind to those less advantaged than he is, and of course, to always love animals…and to defend himself vigorously if he was ever accused of something he didn’t do.

Bullying is horrible and should not be tolerated. I’m glad that I didn’t actually do it, ‘cos I’d be terribly ashamed of myself.

Oh, and the most important lesson I learned was to stick up for MYSELF.

Nobody’s EVER falsely accused me again, you can be sure of that!

#1000Speak

The Art and Practice of Compassion in Action

On February 20, more than one thousand bloggers are speaking with one voice about compassion — to share our belief that together we CAN rid the world of brutality, cruelty, hatred,, indifference, meanness, tyranny, animosity — the opposite of compassion. 

calendulacompassion“…sympathetic pity and concern for the sufferings or misfortunes of others.”

You know what I think?

Being compassionate should not end there.

It’s not good enough to simply FEEL pity and concern, but we need to DO something about the suffering in this world.

  • Take ACTION to PREVENT brutality.
  • Take ACTION to STOP abuse and pain.
  • Take ACTION by educating our children.
  • TEACH kindness for all creatures.
  • Become better stewards of our planet.

That means NO puppy mills, no circuses with animals as entertainment, no SeaWorld, no elephant rides, no camel rides, no dolphin slaughter, no factory farm hell, no running of the bulls, no bullfighting, no cat and dog ritual torture and eating, no dogfighting,

And especially NO wolf killing and NO coyote or bobcat or mountain lion killing contests.
We are better than this.
I hope…

I’m sick of hearing about babies killed and tossed in dumpsters, children who are abused and starved, football players who beat their wives, their children, their dogs — I’m sick of it all.

Practice cruelty-free living.

I have much admiration for Jen at Driftwood Gardens, who, as a fresh convert to veganism, is a shining light educating the world about the merits of living cruelty-free.

My story is that I’ve been meat-free since 1970, but only recently learned about the horrors of dairy, and now I’m practicing being successfully dairy and egg-free.

If you want to start your own practice of compassion in action, watch Eathlings, a film with Joaquin Phoenix, at http://earthlings.com

In fact, STOP all killing of animals. How’s that?World ME

That’s MY perfect world.

That’s the legacy I’d be honored to leave for my son.

1000-Voices-Speak

1000Speak‬

 

 

Happy 100th Birthday, Mommy!

Sometimes, caring for a terminally ill grandma is a beautifully tragic way to learn compassion.

Best mom and grandma EVER.

She was born February 9, 1915
and would have been
one hundred years old today.

I’m often asked where I learned how to cook and bake. I learned it all from her — everything from scratch, and that’s how I do it, too, carrying on that tradition.

Once in a while, tugboat man will surprise his crew by baking for them and it’s her recipe he uses: The Compleat Apple Pie…Deconstructed 

You know how I love to clean? That’s because she made a game out of washing windows, polishing silver; even ironing. She made it all fun, never a chore.

When Angel Boy had his medical scare a while back, it was my mom whom I channeled in the hospital. I remembered every single thing she ever shared with me about being a strong, assertive patient advocate — how to interact with doctors and staff — and to NEVER leave the side of a loved one, which is the reason why DIL and I were there 24/7 for the almost two weeks he was hospitalized.  We all firmly believe this is one of the reasons he’s here today. REALLY.

On a happier note, all I  know about fashion and style, shopping and Chanel, I learned from my mom and I’m more than happy to carry on that legacy.

When I spray on my favorite scent, Chance by Chanel, before I leave for the gym, I remember more of my mom’s words of wisdom:

“Don’t save good perfume for special occasions. Wear it every day just for you.”

When my mom retired from nursing, she moved in with us. After suffering from months of unexplained stomach pain and nausea, she was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Sadly, she didn’t live very long after that.

We cared for her with the help of hospice and she died peacefully at home.

Toward the end, after school, my seven-year-old son would climb on her bed, tell her about his day and feed her a couple spoonfuls of soup.

Sometimes, caring for a terminally ill grandma is a beautifully tragic way to learn compassion.

Angel Boy and my mom had a special bond; she would play Candyland for HOURS with had endless patience. When he was two or three or four years old, whenever he’d call out “MOM!” we would both answer, because for the longest time, that’s how he referred to us both– until he named her “DangDang”, which is how his brain processed the sounds in “Grandma”.

She would have been so very proud of him.

When Angel Boy finished graduate school, I bought him an Hermes tie because that’s what Grandma would have done — memorialize the occasion with an amazingly extravagant gift.

I can think of no better way to honor her memory than to shop for a little something special, ‘cos that’s exactly what she’d want me to do!

A few of my favorite vintage photos:

Stylish nurse ensemble.
I still have her cap and velvet ribbon tucked away, wrapped in tissue paper. 

MommyRN

Lovely afternoon skirt, blouse, and contrasting belt to highlight her curves.
Mommy

Me (very yellow with frilly socks) with Mommy, attired in a full-on Jackie Kennedy look minus the pillbox hat.meandmommy

Frank Sinatra was one of her FAVES.. She used to annoy me SO much by singing along with Old Blue Eyes whenever this song came on the radio: “It Was A Very Good Year”

Living in the Shadows in Sunny Shiny Southern California

There’s another side of California that you might not know about.

Sandwiched between the manicured lawns of upper middle-class residential subdivisions in SoCal, there’s a microcosm of humanity living in the shadows — migrant laborers from Mexico in makeshift camps.

In my own neighborhood, just minutes from the beach and overlooking chaparral-studded canyons, hidden behind purple sage and giant coyote bushes, we recently went for a hike and found evidence that suggests there are still active encampments.

Mostly these men are invisible, ignored by us as we speed up and down our streets, shopping, caring for our families, and only sometimes do we notice these shadow people standing on the roadside waiting to be picked up for day work or at the local liquor store buying twelve packs of beer and money orders.

Like the crows that fly in and out of our trees in a raucous cacophony, there’s an exodus out of the canyons at dawn and back at sunset.

Whatever side of the undocumented worker discussion you’re on, it’s a  blight on our supposedly civilized society that in 2015, in this country of overabundance and excess, men and women live in the bushes without benefit of safe shelter or even running water.

When you scratch off the thin veneer of Pilates classes, weekly mani-pedis and facials, that fifty dollar bottle of pinot noir, and glance beyond Anthropologie and Sur la Table, in the hills behind The Forum, and probably most of the other open spaces that are clinging to life —  that’s where you’ll find them.

It doesn’t seem quite fair for us to have so much while others are living in squalid conditions.

It’s sad, don’t you agree?

kellytrail3

We especially liked the misspelling. There’s a certain poignancy.

There were several white rags hanging from trees along a certain path; we assumed it was to mark the way when it was dark.kellytrail2I think this is a creek, or it could be runoff from all of the developments.
Kellytrail Hard to see the turkey vulture among the clouds.
kellytrail4Do you know who and what lives beneath the surface in your neighborhood?