Soul Gift

A while back I found a hawk feather and gave it to a friend who is as enchanted by our local hawks as I am and feels a real kinship with these raptors that fly over our lagoon.

Yesterday I was getting ready to go to the store to try and find the perfect musical birthday card for my cheeky titian-haired almost two-year-old when my friend drove by and stopped.

“I’ve been carrying this around with me for a while. I just got back in town from hiking Glacier and I’m so glad I saw you!”

I was presented with a beautiful envelope and inside there were two lovely feathers; one was definitely from a juvenile hawk and I’m not sure what the other one is, but it’s spectacular.

“I’m returning your kindness.”

The way they were taped to the card was lyrical and effortless. I kept them exactly as they were presented and found a little frame to keep them safe. Now I can see them every day and remember there are still empathetic and thoughtful people in this world.

PS I’m not sure I like the blue frame but I’m not sure that I don’t, either. It was the only empty frame I had and I’ll sit with it for a few days and make a final decision. I kinda sorta think the blue represents SKY. What do you think? Would another color better complement the feathers?

OMG What Just Happened

T found this caterpillar (pretty sure it’s a Monarch) on a plant, got a box and made a home for it with leaves and flowers to eat.

For an entire day, he referred to it as his pet and was constantly checking on its welfare.

“I love him so much, he’s beautiful.”

Late afternoon, he chose to release it under a shady plant because he thought it would have access to a fresher food source.

With me by his side, we picked a plant we both agreed would be tasty.

No sooner than he put it down and we watched it crawl away than a lizard ran over, grabbed it in his mouth and swallowed it.

We both gasped in horror as the realization of what occurred fully blossomed in our minds. It happened so fast and took us a moment to actually process what we saw.

T, sitting cross-legged on the ground, lowered his head and began to sob in genuine lament, tears staining his face and dripping down his chin.

“WHY, Grandma, why?” He said, “I loved my pet, why did the lizard eat him, why?”

Hearing T cry, Dad came out, I told him what happened, and he gathered T in his arms to comfort him as we gently tried to explain how nature works. His sadness broke our hearts, but I’m so proud of the compassionate way his dad helped him work through these huge emotions.

“I hate lizards. I’m going to hurt them.” Although retaliation was his first solution; it’s obviously not one he would be allowed to do!

After a while, and after a mango/black cherry ice cream cone (thank goodness I had made a double batch), he started to calm down and recover his normally cheery disposition.

He’s an extremely sensitive child and this was his first experience with the raw and gritty side of how animals live and survive.

I found two more caterpillars for him (whew) and this time we didn’t release them and they’re still here in his Spiderman bucket, gnawing their way through leaf after leaf.

He doesn’t know they’re only tomato hornworms and that’s going to be our little secret, right?

Brilliant nonstop chat and research with the most interesting human on planet Earth

Every day starts at around 5:45 a.m. It’s nonstop talking unless he’s eating or sleeping.

“Grandma?” Which really sounds more like “Grand-maw” if you’re sounding it out.

“I’m hungry. Let’s go in the kitchen and I’ll sit on the big stool and watch you make my breakfast.”

Grandma? Why is it still dark out? Why do you love seashells so much? Can I have this rock? Why do you cut up my apple like that? Why do you make me oatmeal? Why is the stove hot? I burned myself one time and Mommy put ice on it. Why do you put cinnamon in it? I wish I was in a rocket ship and could fly off to space.I didn’t wet my bed last night. I’m wearing my Batman undies. Look, Grandma, look at me. Why do you love me so much? I’m your first little boy, Daddy is your second little boy. Right, Grandma? Right? Grandma, are you making coffee now? Why do you do that? That’s the same kind of coffee you get at MY house. We have a Trader Joe’s there, too. Is this safe, Grandma? (As he jumps from the chair to the sofa, and back.)

“Be ever so careful, my favorite boy!”

Silence as he’s eating his breakfast. But not for long…

“I’m really smart, ammnt I, Grandma?”

“Grandma?”

“Yes, T?”
“Is that a TV screen? I only get to watch it for special. When do you watch it, Grandma? Why are you so small, Grandma? Daddy’s big and you’re small. You’re my little Grandma. I’m going to be bigger than my Daddy soon. Like when I’m six or twelve. I will, I really will. I’m not kidding. For reals. My Dad is SO strong, right, Grandma? Why did your little boy grow up, Grandma?

That one got me.
“Hmmm”, I said.
“I think about that too, T. Sometimes I wish Daddy was still a little boy and then I think that he grew up so he could have a little boy like you and make me so happy. What do you think?”

“I think….I think that I want a breakfast burrito now. I’m still hungry.”

Yup, he’s his Daddy’s little boy, that’s for sure. No doubt about it.

The questions have been coming fast and furious as soon as he turned three.

It started with ” where do sloths live?” and I said, “Let’s go to the library tomorrow and do some research.”

The next day we went to the library and checked out a few book about sloths.

After that it was “let’s do research” about everything that had been cooking in his brilliant little mind.

“I love the solar system, my favorite planet is Neptune, I love Neptune because it has rings. We live on planet Earth. I want to know about astronauts.”

Another trip to the library; more books. When he learned that astronauts wear diapers in space, he had to repeat that fact at least a hundred times.

“What happened to dinosaurs?” “Why aren’t there dinosaurs anymore? Why are they only in museums? Why are they just skeletons now?”

“What’s lightening?”
“How does electricity work?”
“How does a volcano erupt?”
“How do bees make honey?”

That question couldn’t be answered very easily with a book, so we did something really special: computer research. We found a video that explained it in a way a toddler could understand. I have to admit that I didn’t know exactly how bees made honey and what we learned made me appreciate the importance of bees even more than I did before. For example, did you know that forager bees have two stomachs, one just to capture the pollen that will eventually turn into honey? Or that some of the jobs that other bees in the colony have is to vomit the contents of their stomach into a succession of about twenty other bees’ stomachs so that certain chemical changes can take place? Or that all the bees work together to flap their wings and evaporate the liquid when first placed in the comb and that when the liquid becomes thickened—well, that’s the end product—honey. In order to produce just one pound of honey, 2 million flowers must be visited. A hive of bees must fly 55,000 miles to produce a pound of honey. One bee colony can produce 60 to 100 pounds of honey per year. An average worker bee makes only about 1/12 teaspoon of honey in its lifetime. I’m THIS MANY YEARS old and never knew all of that. It took a brilliant 3.5 year old child to teach me!

Finally, my very observant little grandson said this…
“Why don’t you eat meat, Grandma?”
When I gave him a simple answer about how I love animals and don’t like to eat them, he said he didn’t like to eat animals either. His mom told me that later that afternoon, he asked her why Grandma doesn’t like to eat animals.

I’m so grateful to be able to generate a thought process like that. We are in desperate need of his generation to make the world a better place. Kinder, more compassionate. More empathy for all living creatures with whom we co-exist on this planet and learn to become better stewards of our oceans and the air we all breathe.

He’s so adorably exuberantly awkward in his joie de vivre. But me? I’m beyond exhausted with so much to be grateful for this Thanksgiving.

Inside camping nap because it’s so rainy today.

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!

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

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