Another death in the family

June 21st, 2012

Seems like all I post on the blog lately is the sad news.

We are off to Tucson again, this time for my brother-in-law’s funeral. Randy was way too young to go, but actually made it a lot longer than he was expected to be around when he was first diagnosed with leukemia many years ago. He survived leukemia, with a lot of scares along the way. He survived thyroid cancer, too, having his thyroid removed a couple years ago. This time he was not so fortunate, although he fought a good fight, as always. He lost the battle with pneumonia, after suffering a broken hip.

My sister-in-law is holding up well, so far, dealing with all the details and going into that “numb” place for now where we deal with what has to be done. My son was there for them, and wrote a lovely tribute to his uncle:

There were no miracles the day that my uncle passed away. If anything, they had been the previous 15 years, two decades or so when he’d been given 5 to live. Cancer drugs sucked, but they’d offered years more for me to get to know my uncle.

He loved science fiction, he wrote an as yet unpublished children’s novel, he loved antiques. He collected Minox cameras and 8mm Disney films. He was a chemist, who produced kits to excite kids, like me and my brother, about Science. I think a big part of why my brother is getting his degree in the field is because of my uncle.

I only realized as I walked into the hospital that, when I feared that I had not used the years with him very well, that my uncle Randy, and my aunt, had known how to value time spent together all along, after making it through those first 5 years.

I hadn’t even given it much thought. But they knew better. They had treasured the years. The days. The hours, and made sure I did too, even if I didn’t look up every time the clock struck looking for the sword hanging over our time.

Words for me are almost useless when it comes to death, and I take little comfort from them. But there’s no other real way to express the feelings here, the sorrow, the loss, the grief, the understanding that none of us lasts forever. Life is precious, temporary, and remarkable, no matter what life you have. Loved ones will not be around forever, so appreciate them, love them as best you can, and cherish them while they are here. What else is there to say, or to do when we come to an end. We loved those who are gone, and we love those who remain behind.

The Tao of the Self — Two

August 5th, 2011

Anyone can see you are beautiful
If they see others as ugly.
Anyone can see you as good
If they see others as evil.

Therefore having friends and not having friends arise together.
Difficult and easy relationships complement each other.
Long and short friendships contrast each other:
High and low emotions rest upon each other;
Your voice and the sound of others harmonize each other;
Being in front of and behind others follow one another.

Therefore the sage goes about doing nothing to force relationships,
teaching not gossiping about others.
Thousands of conversations rise and fall without cease,
Creating relationships, yet not forcing them.
Working with others, yet not taking credit for their work.
Great work with others is done, then forgotten.
Therefore it lasts forever.

Tao of the Self. Two

Today’s Lessons

July 18th, 2011

Get up and do something first thing in the day.

Be active.

Be motivated by love.

Don’t be silent anymore.

Simplify life — remove whatever and whoever does not inspire, inform, add personal value and friendship, or provide a needed service

Clean it up, and make it easy to keep clean.

There will always be more things to learn and do as the day progresses, but you have to start somewhere.

You Learn

December 2nd, 2010

You Learn

You learn.

After a while you learn the subtle difference

between holding a hand and chaining a soul,

and you learn that love doesn’t mean leaning

and company doesn’t mean security.

And you begin to learn that kisses aren’t contracts

and presents aren’t promises,

and you begin to accept your defeats

with your head up and your eyes open

with the grace of a woman, not the grief of a child,

and you learn to build all your roads on today

because tomorrow’s ground is too uncertain for plans

and futures have a way of falling down in mid-flight.

After a while you learn

that even sunshine burns if you get too much.

So you plant your garden and decorate your own soul,

instead of waiting for someone to bring you flowers.

And you learn that you really can endure.

That you really are strong.

And you really do have worth.

And you learn. And learn.

With every good-bye you learn.

- Jorge Luis Borges

via whiskey river.

How I want to help people feel

November 22nd, 2010

Yes. This is how I would  like people to feel around me…

Sometimes you meet somebody who just exudes contentment and you feel happy and safe with them, as if all is okay in the world and you lack nothing. Everything is easy and you are fully accepted as you are, no matter who or what you are. These people make us feel whole because they are whole.

via THE JOY OF SIMPLICITY | Annastao Blog.

Going Home

November 13th, 2010

Well, going to where I grew up, at least. I’m off to Scottsdale, Arizona today to visit family and friends. My mom left me a timeshare there so I am headed there this week.

And I just got the book, “Journey from the Heart” from paperbackswap.com. This is the post for today:

You’re Almost Home

I only had a few hundred miles to go, but the stretch ahead seemed endless. I was tired and near the end of this adventure. I remembered the meditative words of a friend, words that had helped me several years ago, words that helped me again now.

“The life force is a force within you. You have the power to fire it, stoke it, expand its energy throughout your body. Don’t clench up, tighten up. That limits the life force within you. Stop cramping your muscles and telling yourself you can’t. If you say it long and loud enough, you’ll begin to believe it. Relax. Relax your arms, your legs, your neck, your body. You’ve come so far. Look back at all the miles you’ve traveled. What lies ahead is a small portion, such a small portion of fear.”

“Breathe deeply. When you become afraid or tired, your breathing becomes shallow. That inhibits the fire. It keeps the life force from reaching your muscles, your vital organs, your brain. Breathe deeply. Stoke the fire within.”

“Take a moment now to picture the core of light within you. See it in your solar plexus just inches below your navel. Picture it as a glowing coal, a candle, a flame. With each breath you take, picture the flame getting stronger, glowing more brightly, until you feel the vital life force begin to surge through you.”

“Feel yourself being filled with healing, life-giving energy with each breath you take. Feel the flame burn more brightly within you. Inhale deeply. Exhale deeply. Feel your power spread through your body. Feel the power of the universe come in through your breath. Feel the power connect with and flame the burning coal of energy that is within you.”

“You’ve come so far. You’ve almost mastered that lesson, accomplished that task, unveiled that insight, the one you’ve been struggling with. Of course you’re tired. You’ve been working hard. Take a moment now to light the fire within you. Let it give you the energy you need.”

Don’t stop now. You’re almost home.

So I guess that’s an appropriate message for my drive today…

Gratitude

September 7th, 2010


Danielle Anjou, Gratitude

“The essence of all beautiful art, all great art, is gratitude.” — Friedrich Nietzsche

“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.” -– Melody Beattie

“Feel as grateful to existence as possible — for small things, not only for great things… just for sheer breathing. We don’t have any claim on existence, so whatsoever is given is a gift.

Grow more and more in gratitude and thankfulness; let it become your very style. Be grateful to everybody. If one understands gratitude then one is grateful for things that have been done positively. And one even feels grateful for things which could have been done negatively. You feel grateful that somebody helped you; this is just the beginning. Then you start feeling grateful that somebody has not harmed you — he could have; it was so kind of him not to.

Once you understand the feeling of gratitude and allow it to sink deeply within you, you will start feeling grateful for everything. And the more grateful you are, the less complaining, grumbling. Once complaining disappears, misery disappears. It exists with complaints. It is hooked with complaints and with the complaining mind. Misery is impossible with gratefulness. So that is one of the most important secrets to learn.”

Everyday Osho — 365 Daily meditations for the here and now by Osho

Level 2 Gratitude says, “How wonderful it is to exist!” Circumstances are irrelevant because this form of gratitude is a choice that needs no justification. It is a sense of utter fascination with the very notion of existence.

You become grateful for the adventure that is life, including all of its twists and turns. This form of gratitude is synonymous with unconditional love because there is no attachment to circumstances or outcomes. Consequently, there is no fear of loss or change.

Level 2 Gratitude is like having a constant echo in the back of your consciousness saying, “Wow!” Everything else is experienced on top of that Wow. Gratitude becomes the canvas upon which your life is painted… .When your feelings of gratitude are conditional upon temporary circumstances like your stuff, your job, and your relationships, your base identity doesn’t change. But when you root your gratitude in something permanent, it becomes a permanent part of you. Instead of saying, “I am grateful for…” you just say, “I am grateful.”

“If the only prayer you said in your whole life was, “Thank You,” that would suffice.” — Meister Eckhart

“I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought, and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.” — G. K. Chesterton

“It was the love of love,
the love that swallows up all else,
a grateful love,
a love of nature, of people,
of animals,
a love engendering
gentleness and goodness
that moved me
and that I saw in you.”

– William Carlos Williams

“Gratitude is a twofold love / love coming to visit us, and love running out to greet a welcome guest.” — Henry Van Dyke

“Happiness cannot be traveled to, owned, earned, worn or consumed. Happiness is the spiritual experience of living every minute with love, grace, and gratitude.” — Denis Waitley

“Let’s choose today to quench our thirst for the ”good life” we think others lead by acknowledging the good that already exists in our lives. We can then offer the universe the gift of our grateful hearts.” — Sarah Ban Breathnach

“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.” — Melody Beattie

I posted this in January this year, but am feeling the need to post it again today. For a while I kept a gratitude journal, but I use it rarely these days. Perhaps I need to start doing that again, to remind myself of how much I have to be grateful for. Last night we had a party for our friends, which we hadn’t done in some time, and I realized how disconnected from them I had become, in spite of the facebook and twitter connections. Our electronic connections are so shallow sometimes compared to the reality of our face to face communications. And it is sad how rarely we let others know how very much we appreciate them.

So much of our society is about that search for more, the higher highs, the more powerful position, the ever-increasing salary, more stuff, bigger houses, bigger cars. We let those things get in the way of simply enjoying ourselves and each other.

When are we ever just thankful for what we have? Don’t we know eventually we will lose all the things, all the stuff, our lives themselves?

Be grateful for what you have now, and more will come to you. That is the nature of the universe. Be unhappy, be disrespectful, be harsh to others, and you will have less. Maybe not less stuff, but less in your heart, in your spirit. You have to be grateful for what you have in order to keep it, and in order to really deserve more. Tao trusts only those who prove themselves to be worthy of being its caretakers.

Hold the jewel in your heart.

My summer vacation

August 5th, 2010

I’m finally back from my vacation time in Florida, and have been going through a lot the last couple of weeks and am still sorting it all out. I’ll be back to blogging regularly eventually. It’s been an interesting and challenging time for me, and I’ve been busy making major changes in several people’s lives. Hopefully for the better, but we’ll see in time. With so much changing in our world right now, it feels difficult to keep up the pace, so I’m slowing mine down for a while. Meantime, I’ll post some less intense and more fun things here.

______________________________________________________

You are The Empress

Beauty, happiness, pleasure, success, luxury, dissipation.

The Empress is associated with Venus, the feminine planet, so it represents,
beauty, charm, pleasure, luxury, and delight. You may be good at home
decorating, art or anything to do with making things beautiful.

The Empress is a creator, be it creation of life, of romance, of art or business. While the Magician is the primal spark, the idea made real, and the High Priestess is the one who gives the idea a form, the Empress is the womb where it gestates and grows till it is ready to be born. This is why her symbol is Venus, goddess of beautiful things as well as love. Even so, the Empress is more Demeter, goddess of abundance, then sensual Venus. She is the giver of Earthly gifts, yet at the same time, she can, in anger withhold, as Demeter did when her daughter, Persephone, was kidnapped. In fury and grief, she kept the Earth barren till her child was returned to her.

What Tarot Card are You?
Take the Test to Find Out.

Midyear Abundance

July 2nd, 2010

This post from Beyond the Fields We Know on abundance brought to mind some of my older posts:

The word abundance made its first appearance in the fourteenth century, coming to us through Middle English and Old French, thence from the Latin abundāns, meaning overflowing. The adjective form is “abundant”, and our common synonyms for it include: abounding ample, bounteous, bountiful, copious, eco-rich, exuberant, filled, full, generous, heavy, lavish, liberal, luxuriant, overflowing, plenteous, plenty, profuse, rich, sufficient and teeming.

We use the adjective form to describe circumstances of fullness, ripeness and plenty, and it’s a word in frequent use in high summer and early autumn. There is something almost wanton (or profligate) about the riches on display in summer – wild turkeys in the corn and waving barley, deer and fawns in the newly mowed meadows, flotillas of fuzzy goslings paddling down the river accompanied by their proud parents.

The sage never tries to store things up.
The more he does for others, the more he has.
The more he gives to others, the greater his abundance.
– Tao Te Ching, Eighty-one

“When you open to receive the love of a friend, you are giving them the greatest gift you can give. When you are open to receiving without hindrance the energy of the universe, you are giving the world a gift. When you open to receive an inspiration or a creative idea, you are giving. In truth, receiving is giving.” — Laurence G. Boldt, The Tao of Abundance

The more you learn what to do with yourself,
and the more you do for others,
the more you will enjoy the abundant life.
— William J.H Boetcker

In 2005, I picked up a book that changed my life, Deng Ming Dao’s “365 Tao”. Reading it every day throughout the year, and using it as a touchstone for my own meditation and writing was the focus of my blog for a year. It helped bring me out of depression, reoriented my thoughts towards the world, and started me on a path that continues to expand and amaze me. Here is his writing on abundance:

Sun in heaven.
Abundance in great measure.

Supreme success
In the midst of impermanence.

The midday sun in summer is the hottest and brightest of all. It symbolizes a zenith, a fulfillment, a period of great brightness. In the affairs of people, it stands for the combining of strength and clarity, which yields brilliance. When the times are in accord, abundance cannot be opposed.

Abundance is a cause for celebration, but followers of Tao also remember to be cautious. No zenith can be preserved forever. In fact, the time of abundance just precedes an inevitable path of decline. Nothing in life is permanent. Therefore, the wise person enjoys and is gladdened by abundance. But while they take advantage of the time, they also prepare for what will follow.

Deng Ming Tao, 365 Tao

I realized that I had a great abundance in my life, even though I had felt what I was lacking more than what I had. I learned to start celebrating what I had in my life, instead of worrying about what I lacked. I learned to trust that what I needed would be provided to me — not that I didn’t have to work for it, but that if I did the work, it would be rewarded.

If you live in abundance, celebrate. Stop stressing about what you lack and celebrate what you have and who you are. And if you lack something in your life, trust in yourself to be able to find it. Trust in those around you to help you find it, and ask for their help. If you have abundance, share it with others, don’t be selfish about giving, because what you give to others will return to you in ways you least expect, ways that will make your life far more abundant than you could ever hope.

Realize that when you have abundance, you have the power to plant the seeds that will grow in the future. What seeds do you want to plant? What future do you want to leave for the next generation? Are the fancy toys or big house or car so important that you must have them now, or can that energy and abundance go to energizing the seeds of the future? Is it more important to give that extra hour to work so you can buy more things, or to a child to help develop their future?

“One hundred years from now, it will not matter what your bank account was, the sort of house you lived in, or the kind of car you drove, but the world may be different because you were important in the life of a child.”

Reap the rewards of your harvest, but store some away to sustain you through the lean times that may be ahead, and preserve some seeds to plant in the future as well. Only in that way can you truly sustain the abundance you enjoy today, and share it with others.

From Waking Heart today:

A whole cosmos speaking its loving presence to you in every moment! You cannot comprehend how wealthy you are. There are places and people in space and time that are far away, but not really. When this opens into your awareness, it will not matter where you are, who you are, or who you are with… or who you are without. All of it will be like a movie projection on a screen, and the light source will be in you, constant and intimately connected to everything.

Destiny

June 25th, 2010

I don’t really think about having a destiny, or that anything is pre-destined. But it is amazing to me how often I can put a thought out there now and see it realized, seemingly through no action of my own. I have come to believe that the universe does take care of us, if we can trust it to do so. This isn’t so much a metaphysical belief as a Tao realization — by acting in accordance with nature, and with my own nature, I do help create the circumstances for what I want to be able to happen. And it is when I am not in accord with nature, or not listening to my own nature or that of others, that I most struggle to get what I (my ego, that is) want.

So perhaps a truer definition of destiny would be that it is what we find happening in our lives if we simply relax and allow life and our own nature to flow. When I can relax and trust that things will work out well, they typically do. And even if they are not working out well, if I’m relaxed and calm I’m certainly better able to deal with a situation. So, even if the universe isn’t on your side, why not believe that it is? It certainly isn’t out to get you, in any case. And a neutral attitude towards things, rather than a positive one, doesn’t really help to get anyone on your side. So being positive, approaching life as if good things are going to come your way, is not merely a Pollyana state but one that helps to create a better Destiny…

“Your destiny shall not be allotted to you, but you shall choose it for yourselves.” — Plato

I have to agree with Plato here.

“Destiny is something not be to desired and not to be avoided. a mystery not contrary to reason, for it implies that the world, and the course of human history, have meaning.” — Dag Hammarskjold

And Dag, it is good to believe your life has meaning.

“Almost nothing important that ever happens to you happens because you engineer it. Destiny has no beeper; destiny always leans trenchcoated out of an alley with some sort of “Pssst” that you usually can’t even hear because you’re in such a rush to or from something important you’ve tried to engineer.” — David Foster Wallace

I like this because it reminds us to be open to the unexpected, to allow good things into our lives even if we weren’t expecting them. On the other hand, don’t buy watches or jewelry from these people.

“No love, no friendship can cross the path of our destiny without leaving some mark on it forever.”
– Francois Muriac

My friendships certainly do leave their marks on me and my life. My loves, even more so. And I still love them all…

“Time draweth wrinkles in a fair face, but addeth fresh colors to a fast friend, which neither heat, nor cold, nor misery, nor place, nor destiny, can alter or diminish.” — John Lyly

I see new colors in my friends all the time, and I mostly ignore the wrinkles. If anything, they add character.

“We plan our lives according to a dream that came to us in our childhood, and we find that life alters our plans. And yet, at the end, from a rare height, we also see that our dream was our fate. It’s just that providence had other ideas as to how we would get there. Destiny plans a different route, or turns the dream around, as if it were a riddle, and fulfills the dream in ways we couldn’t have expected.” — Ben Okri

I don’t think I’ve ever had a straightforward path to my dreams, but they usually end up realized in some way. And I do like solving the riddles of my life…

Your thoughts on destiny???

Aloha again

June 4th, 2010

We’re going to be headed to Hawaii in less than a week! I’m hoping to be able to revisit this beautiful beach, the one where I dropped my parents’ ashes into the ocean. The current off this coast runs straight to Tahiti, so I thought that might be a nice place to let them go. Don’t know if they ever made it to Tahiti, of course, but I like to imagine them there, as part of some gorgeous reef perhaps.

We’ll only be visiting the island of Kauai, where my parents’ timeshare was located and that I inherited. So no exploring the big island this time and finding its farthest reaches. I actually kind of like the more limited location trips. I really enjoyed going to Paris and just seeing the city last year, not feeling like we had to get out and see all of France or all of Europe or whatever. I think it made us feel more connected to the place we were visiting. So this time, we’ll really get to know Kauai well and connect there, and find the less traveled spots that we will enjoy even more.

And I’m taking along my best friend from grade school and high school and her husband, so this will be a fun trip indeed! Can’t wait!

Decide to Network

March 2nd, 2010

Decide to Network
Use every letter you write
Every conversation you have
Every meeting you attend
To express your fundamental beliefs and dreams
Affirm to others the vision of the world you want
Network through thought
Network through action
Network through love
Network through the spirit
You are the center of a network
You are the center of the world
You are a free, immensely powerful source
Of life and goodness
Affirm it
Spread it
Radiate it
Think day and night about it
And you will see a miracle happen:
The greatness of your own life.
In a world of big powers, media, and monopolies
But of six billion individuals
Network is the new freedom
The new democracy
A new form of happiness.

–Robert Muller, Under Secretary General of the United Nations

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Muller

via Kathryn

Sharing Our Visions

February 6th, 2010

“Friendship arises out of mere companionship when two or more of the companions discover that they have in common some insight or interest or even taste which the others do not share and which, till that moment, each believed to be his own unique treasure (or burden). The typical expression of opening Friendship would be something like, “What? You too? I thought I was the only one.” We can imagine that among those early hunters and warriors single individuals — one in a century? one in a thousand years? — saw what others did not; saw that the deer was beautiful as well as edible, that hunting was fun as well as necessary, dreamed that his gods might be not only powerful but holy. But as long as each of these percipient persons dies without finding a kindred soul, nothing (I suspect) will come of it; art or sport or spiritual religion will not be born. It is when two such persons discover one another, when, whether with immense difficulties and semi-articulate fumblings or with what would seem to us amazing and elliptical speed, they share their vision — it is then that Friendship is born. And instantly they stand together in an immense solitude… In this kind of love, as Emerson said, “Do you love me? means Do you see the same truth?” — Or at least, “Do you care about the same truth?” The man who agrees with us that some question, little regarded by others, is of great importance can be our Friend. He need not agree with us about the answer.” — C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves

One of the formative lessons every writer (and editor) learns is that the adjective is the uranium-235 of language. Adjectives are to be treated as highly radioactive material: when used correctly, they can light up a city; used with laze, stupidity, and excess, they can turn you and your work into the artistic equivalent of Chernobyl. — Brian Donohue

It is well established that listening to action words such as lick, pick and kick activates the brain areas that control the tongue, hand and foot. Pulvermuller’s research goes a step farther, suggesting that the brain’s action system does more than respond to meaning — he believes that it contributes to it.

To test this theory, Pulvermuller ran a study in which he stimulated different parts of the action system using TMS while volunteers listened to tongue, hand and foot-related words. The level of TMS was enough to increase the neuronal activity, but not enough to knock out the region. He found that stimulating the hand region made people quicker to comprehend hand-related words, such as stitch and pick. The same was true for foot-related words, such as kick and run, when he stimulated the foot area of the brain. “We found it wasn’t just a one-way flow from the language system to the motor system. People actually use these brain areas to understand the word,” he said.

Showing that we use our “foot area” to know what “kicking” means may sound like a trivial advance. But it demonstrates scientifically what great writers have instinctively known all along: that we don’t just understand words, we feel them.

Words have effects, sometimes very physical effects. In sharing our visions of what we want our world to be like, in developing our friendships and other relationships, we have to consider the words we use with others and make sure they are the ones we intend. We also have to understand how others may be using their words to manipulate us. Remember that action words can strongly affect other people and that they affect you, too. If you want a peaceful, calm, Taoful world, then use peaceful, calm, Taoful words. And be aware when others are using words that create strong reactions in you. Realize you can control those reactions and think about your response before automatically becoming angry or annoyed. And that responding in a calm, peaceful way will change their responses to you in return.

Inadequate

January 31st, 2010

“And whatever your path is at this moment, every single step is equal in substance. Every step actualizes the self. Every moment of practice is always the koan of having to agree to your condition, to bring unlimited friendliness to what you are, just as you are, right now. Even your obnoxiousness, your failures, your rank inadequacy is it. Your best revenge is to include it as you.” — Susan Murphy, via Whiskey River

“When words become unclear, I shall focus with photographs. When images become inadequate, I shall be content with silence.” –- Ansel Adams

“If you hear that someone is speaking ill of you, instead of trying to defend yourself you should say: “He obviously does not know me very well, since there are so many other faults he could have mentioned.”” — Epictetus

“Let no one say that he is a follower of Gandhi. It is enough that I should be my own follower. I know what an inadequate follower I am of myself, for I cannot live up to the convictions I stand for. You are no followers but fellow students, fellow pilgrims, fellow seekers, fellow workers.” — Mohandas Gandhi

The highest Virtue seems empty;
Great purity seems sullied;
A wealth of Virtue seems inadequate;
The strength of Virtue seems frail;
Real Virtue seems unreal.

- – Tao Te Ching 41

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, “Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous?”

Actually, who are you not to be? — – Nelson Mandela, Inaugural Speech 1994

Actions in life can be reduced to two factors: positioning and timing. If we are not in the right place at the right time, we cannot possibly take advantage of what life has to offer us. Almost anything is appropriate if an action is in accord with the time and the place. But we must be vigilant and prepared. Even if the time and the place are right, we can still miss our chance if we do not notice the moment, if we act inadequately, or if we hamper ourselves with doubts and second thoughts. When life presents an opportunity, we must be ready to seize it without hesitation or inhibition. Position is useless without awareness. If we have both, we make no mistakes. — Deng Ming-Dao, 365 Tao

“Oh soul,
you worry too much.
You have seen your own strength.
You have seen your own beauty.
You have seen your golden wings.
Of anything less,
why do you worry?
You are in truth
the soul, of the soul, of the soul.”

Jalal ad-Din Rumi

I am feeling a bit inadequate today. As much as I try to follow Tao, to be unattached to things and people and results, some days it is too much for me, and I fail to live up my promises. I really hate letting other people down, or letting my impulsive actions become a problem for someone. Some days I am simply not the person that I want to be and know that I can be, and usually am. This weekend has been a difficult one for me. Between being stupid and losing my beautiful ash tree, it’s been a really tough time. There have been good moments — wonderful dinners out with my husband, and a beautiful moonlit evening at La Jolla cove, with one of the most gorgeous full moons I’ve ever seen in my life. But my inadequacies are overwhelming the good things for me right now.

Believe in the possibilities

December 1st, 2009

To everyone who reads here:

As we enter the magical season of Christmas, Solstice and the beginning of the New Year, my wish for you is that you come to believe more in yourself, in the possibilities of your life, and have the courage and strength to follow those possibilities where they may take you, without fear of failure, or doubt about where the path may lead.

Namaste.

Relationship

August 6th, 2009

“A person isn’t who they are during the last conversation you had with them – they’re who they’ve been throughout your whole relationship.” — Rainer Maria Rilke (via QuinnCreative

“To know someone here or there with whom you can feel there is understanding in spite of distances or thoughts unexpressed — that can make of this earth a garden.” — Goethe

“To know when to go away and when to come closer is the key to any lasting relationship.” — Doménico Cieri Estrada

“Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another, ‘What! You too? I thought I was the only one” — C.S. Lewis

“One of the greatest titles we can have is “old friend”. We never appreciate how important old
friends are until we are older. The problem is we need to start our old friendships when we are
young. We then have to nurture and grow those friendships over our middle age when a busy life and changing geographies can cause us to neglect those friends. Today is the day to invest in those people we hope will call us ‘old friend” in the years to come.” — Grant Fairley

“We don’t get to know people when they come to us; we must go to them to find out what they are like.”
– Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

“So long as we love, we serve; so long as we are loved by others, I should say that we are almost indispensable; and no man is useless while he has a friend.” — Robert Louis Stevenson

Remember

June 22nd, 2009

Remember

Long ago, far away
Life was clear
Close your eyes…

Remember — is a place from long ago
Remember — filled with everything you know
Remember — when you’re sad and feeling down
Remember — turn around

Remember — life is just a memory
Remember — close your eyes and you can see
Remember — think of all that life can be
Remember…

Dream — love is only in a dream
Remember …
Remember — life is never as it seems
Dream…

Long ago, far away
Life was clear
Close your eyes…

– Harry Nilsson

(posted today for Neil Bulger, who passed away June 15th…)

Success

May 16th, 2009

It occurred to me as I read this today that I have actually done all these things… how strange…
although I would also add the affection of dogs, cats and other small creatures into the mix…

“To have laughed often and much;
To win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children;
To earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends;
To appreciate beauty, to find the best in others;
To leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition;
To know that one life has breathed easier because you have lived;
This is to have succeeded.”

– Ralph Waldo Emerson

via Cabinet of Wonders (love this post today, go read, please!)

“Try not to become a man of success, but rather try to become a man of value.”
– Albert Einstein

“There is only one success –to be able to spend your life in your own way.”
– Christopher Morley

“You are forgiven for your happiness and your successes only if you generously consent to share them.”
– Albert Camus

“What is success? It is a toy balloon among children armed with pins.” — Gene Fowler

“I dread success. To have succeeded is to have finished one’s business on earth, like the male spider, who is killed by the female the moment he has succeeded in courtship. I like a state of continual becoming, with a goal in front and not behind.” — George Bernard Shaw

“Success has made failures of many men.” — Cindy Adams

“The moral flabbiness born of the bitch-goddess SUCCESS. That – with the squalid interpretation put on the word success – is our national disease.” — William James

“How can they say my life is not a success? Have I not for more than sixty years got enough to eat and escaped being eaten?” — Logan Smith

Songs for a Friend

May 5th, 2009

Putting together a playlist for a friend going through a divorce today — this is the closer.

Count on me through thick and thin
A friendship that will never end
When you are weak, I will be strong
Helping you to carry on
Call on me, I will be there
Don’t be afraid
Please believe me when I say
Count on….

I can see it’s hurting you
I can feel your pain
It’s hard to see the sunshine through the rain oh
I know sometimes it seems as if it’s never gonna end

But you’ll get through it
I know sometimes it seems as if
we’re standing all alone
But we’ll get through cause love wouldn’t let us fall

There’s a place inside of all of us
Where our faith in love begins
You should reach to find the truth in love
The answers there within, ohhhh
I know that life can make you feel
It’s much harder than it really is
But we’ll get through it (we’ll get through it)
Just (just) don’t (don’t) give in…

The Get-Out-the-Song Effort

April 12th, 2009

Darrell Brown is another one of those people I’m proud to say I went to high school with. Until recently I hadn’t realized how exceptional our high school actually was at inspiring and motivating us to do something with our lives, to be what we could be if we tried.

But I’m very glad that it was, and that so many of my friends have done well for themselves and made a difference in the world.

Darrell has a new book coming out he’s written with Leeann Rimes, “What I Cannot Change”, and co-wrote many of the songs on her album, “Family”.

The Get-Out-the-Song Effort


In 1979, I moved into a one-bedroom apartment adjacent to the Hollywood Bowl with my rental piano in tow and began trying to write songs. I didn’t have a clue how to get started in the music business, or even where to get good advice. But I had the blind willingness to put myself out there and see where life, love and God would lead me. The first of many mysterious events unfolded when I met a guy in my building who co-owned a recording studio in downtown Hollywood. The technology anyone can use now to record music at home was then neither readily available nor affordable. This person was a miracle find in my book. A miracle.

Eventually I made him an offer: I would bring local clients to his studio and split the proceeds with him if he would let me use the studio for free for my own work. The pitched worked — he said yes. Not long after I had my first cuts hit the radio airwaves — in the form of jingles I produced — and I thought that maybe-kinda-sorta I was on my way.

It’s not that the jingles were great (they weren’t) or that anyone besides my family and friends knew that they were on the radio (they didn’t). Yet I felt I had broken through some invisible wall that the gatekeepers of the music world had put up. There I was, just a young mutt barely paddling upstream. I kept paddling. There was no shore in sight, but at least I was figuring out how to paddle. And I was happy.

My next step up the ladder of the music world came when some of my original songs were cut by extremely unknown artists on their own indie labels. The kind of cassettes — yes, I said cassettes — sold in night clubs or bars, usually set up on a card table down the hallway of a sticky-floored nightclub where people would pass by on the way to the toilet. But each night it felt so great that people were hearing, dancing and singing along to songs I had co-written with the band. It felt great to know that the band was selling some product and that I was getting my share of the sales as a songwriter.

I found it was important to keep getting myself out there, physically, to the clubs in town or the coffee shops where singer-songwriters would perform. The more I hung around these places, the more artists I met. That led to more co-writing, and eventually, more recorded songs. Of course, there was a non-monetary benefit to all that hustling to make a few bucks from my work — I got better. I was learning so much as songwriter from everyone I was working with. It was the best education I’d ever received. Since then I have been an enthusiastic student at the School of Getting Off Your Butt and Doing Something. Nothing ever happens if you just stay locked away in a room somewhere.

I also kept reading music magazine and trade papers. I memorized the names of producers, songwriters, musicians, engineers, record company executives — the gatekeepers who had the ability to open doors for me or slam them shut. If I came with the goods, I believed, the best work I could muster up at the time, things would continue to happen for me. I was right.

As I kept reading these trade papers I came to see that the music world wasn’t just here in the good ol’ U.S.A. but in practically every country on earth. So I started contacting publishers, producers and record executives in other parts of the world and — wouldn’t you know it? — I started getting a couple of cuts per year with foreign recording artists.

The way I looked at it, no opportunity was too small. I quickly found that no matter how unknown some of these foreign artists might have been in the States, each new cut I placed with them gave me a story to tell the next musician or producer. It gave me some hope to hold on to, and built up the confidence I needed to go to my room and write again and again. It made me feel that I was on the right path, and most of all, it brought me absolute joy to know I was becoming a working songwriter.

I loved, loved, loved hearing my songs being sung in choirs in schools and in churches for holiday services and special shows. I got my songs put into small local theater presentations and found vocal groups around town to perform them at special corporate shows and fundraisers. I had singers sing them at piano bars. I wasn’t restrictive or choosy — anyone who wanted to sing my songs was perfectly O.K. with me.I believe that this is the way it should be. I write songs. And to fearfully shelter a song, afraid that someone might ruin it or not record it correctly or sing the perfect “first” version of it — that seems wrong to me. Of course I have had those fears. Like everyone else, I’ve been afraid that I was not good enough or that someone might ridicule my work. But in my life, I have seen too many brilliant men and women turn down opportunities to have their songs heard — simple ones like the church choir gig or the jingle — and then years later put down their pen and paper in bitter disdain for a business that has proven to them that it doesn’t support art.

I’m not saying that if I have an unbelievable gift of a song come out of me that I won’t take it to the artist I think could make it a timeless smash — I’m not crazy. But I do know that one can never know or truly predict in the raw stages of a career who the next Madonna or Garth Brooks or Michael Jackson or Frank Sinatra is going to be. So I am open to all possibilities to be amazed, surprised by joy and hit records.

And so I keep traveling forward, hopeful for the willing ear.

via The Get-Out-the-Song Effort – Measure for Measure Blog – NYTimes.com.