Posts Tagged ‘Spirituality’

“What should I write this morning?” I asked Bob. He mumbled something over coffee that sounded like, “I dunno thatsatourriff.” This is what happens when you talk with your mouth full, cause I’m pretty sure he actually said, “I don’t know that’s your gift.” Or gig, or whatever. So I said,

“I know, facelifts!”

Well, actually I don’t know much about facelifts except, that every celebrity of a certain age is starting to look the same. And when you go too far under the knife, or too often, you could start to look like a lion. Beware, that image you see in the mirror may no longer be you!

But I DO recognize that schoolyard bully who might tell a young girl her lips are too big, or her hair is dirty, or (pick a body part and insert a slur). Mr T has got a huuuge problem with smart women, like Mika Brzezinski, and fast, tiny fingers that tap out his stream of putrid consciousness almost every morning. This is horrifying to the civilized world but somehow continues to delight his followers. Leaders don’t do this, they don’t intimidate, harass and belittle others into compliance. They certainly don’t talk about women bleeding…

When I opened Twitter this morning, one of my favorite authors, Joyce Carol Oates, popped up with this:

“Face-lift? Who needs a face-lift? All of US badly in need of soul-lift.” 

Here are a few things we can do for our souls, instead of trying to dissect the Presidential Twitter feed – which is simply vindictive nonsense.

  1.  Do something good for our planet. Plant a tree, pick up garbage on your street, bring tote bags to the grocery store if you’re not already. Donate to an environmental agency like The Sierra Club, or pick a non-profit: http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2006/03/guide-environmental-non-profits/  We only have THREE years to get right with the world, so what are you waiting for? http://www.huffingtonpost.com.au/2017/06/29/we-have-3-years-to-act-on-climate-change-before-its-too-late-s_a_23007680/
  2. Become someone your grandchildren will admire. Pick a cause (and not cyber-bullying, FLOTUS has that covered y’all) and throw your body and soul into it. Is gun violence driving you mad? Guns kill nearly 1,300 children each year in our country. Join “Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America” and help them #disarmhate https://momsdemandaction.org. If you think women’s rights are human rights, see what your local Planned Parenthood is up to, that is if they are still open?
  3. Go Deep. Turn off all those devices and listen to the world. First of all, your inner peace is depending on you. Meditate, even if it’s just for ten minutes while you’re watering the garden. Did you know walking the dog could be a meditation? You don’t have to sit in a lotus position and chant things. Great Grandma Ada said she would have to get up and dust if she ever tried meditating. But once we make peace with ourselves, we have a ripple effect on the rest of our lives. Acceptance is a form of grace, and it doesn’t just happen on Sunday morning.

Wasn’t it Lady Gaga or the Dalai Lama who wrote about self-acceptance? Everybody has a body part they don’t like, and we women are notorious for being critical. Her nose is too long, her hands betray her age, if only I could just lose that last ten pounds…The Flapper didn’t like her freckled, ski jump nose. She told me she would rub lemon juice on her nose to try and bleach out the freckles. For me, I was a tomboy just as flat-chested as the Flapper, and there were some boys who liked to remind me of this fact.

Lucky for me, I never succumbed to the ridicule by placing sacks of saline in my chest.

Stay Woke people. Get out there and enjoy this glorious weather and remember you don’t need to eat and breathe politics. When I was young, we had one half hour at night to watch Walter Cronkite and complain about the news…as a family, around one TV set. Daddy Jim read the newspaper, you remember those, in peace and quiet. It wasn’t all consuming all the time. Mr T’s Tweets are bad for our collective health. Here’s the latest Dalai Lama’s Tweet:

“We experience happiness on a sensory level that is relatively short-lived. But lasting happiness is related to our state of mind.” 

Enjoying a frozen hot chocolate with cupcake bear can also be soul-lifting.




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Anne Lamott is one of my favorite writers. A friend from my Rumson book club gave me my first fix of Anne. Bob and I were preparing to move to the Blue Ridge, my youngest was heading off to college, my home on the tributary of the Shrewsbury River was filled with packed boxes. I was recovering from a severe bout of West Nile, putting steroid drops in my eyes every two hours. Hard change doesn’t come easily to me, and this move was proving to be extremely hard. Polli gave me the book “Traveling Mercies,” and inscribed:

I will miss you. I have loved having you here on Buena Vista as a neighbor and dear friend. Now the neighbor part changes, but never the dear friend! Enjoy Anne Lamott’s irreverent spirituality…

Anne is a recovering addict and alcoholic, she writes about it shamelessly. In fact, that’s one of the things I love about her, the shameless part. She’s also into Christianity, and I thought nah, I’m not going to enjoy this journey so much. Look how I fought to leave all those shaming, stern nuns behind; look how I married a Jewish man and raised my children Jewish. But finding grace is nothing to sneeze about, and Anne found it living on a houseboat and carrying on with a married man.

She woke up one morning and poured the wine and box of pills over the side of the boat, got into recovery and was baptized. Then she immediately got pregnant and her best friend discovered she had stage four breast cancer – she had to raise a child and help her friend prepare to die simultaneously. And i thought I had problems.

Here is Kelly Corrigan’s epic interview with Anne Lamott. https://medium.com/foreword/w-a-t-c-h-be1a0b70368e just for you.
I’m currently reading “Small Victories, Spotting Improbable Moments of Grace.” Because I need her now more than ever. She tells us not to try and fix things that are unfixable, she tells us to swim. That we don’t have time to worry about showing our upper arms or our thighs. When Kelly asks her if she could say four words to anyone, she says, “You will come through.”


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There was a wonderful South African musician at the TEDx conference we attended recently. He talked about “Ubuntu” (pronounced “oo-boon-too”) and then he played a song about it; about how it is hard to translate from the Swahili, that it means much more than kindness. It encompasses reconciliation, forgiveness, and compassion. And when I think about it, it is something akin to that indescribable something that makes someone go out of their way for another, to treat a stranger like a family member. Unlike some people who are all about themselves – their needs and desires – a person with the spirit of Ubuntu is connected to humanity, writ large.

On this day when South Africa buries one its greatest leaders, Nelson Mandela who is the personification of Ubuntu, it seems only right to pause and think (or write) about it:

Lately, Bob has had to take my 4-wheel drive CRV to the hospital because of the snow and “wintry mix” weather we’re experiencing. Feeling a bit forlorn encased in ice on our hill,  I was lucky to catch the tail-end of a Morning Joe interview with the daughter of our Secretary of State, Dr Vanessa Kerry. Here is a woman from MA who also practices her life with the Ubuntu spirit.

A practicing physician and new mother, Dr Kerry managed to create a bold new system with the Peace Corps to make physician/provider training in developing countries sustainable. She started Seed Global Health – “..an innovative public-private partnership to place nurses, physicians and other health professionals as adjunct faculty in medical or nursing schools overseas in March 2012.” http://seedglobalhealth.org

Instead of joining a 2 week mission to treat patients in Uganda for instance in your specialty, something she called a “band-aid” in the scheme of things, young doctors can pledge a year of their time training another doctor, who will go on to train 10 more doctors, etc. And the caveat is that her non-profit will help defray the student loans most physicians have accumulated. Absolutely an ingenious idea! Health care in 57 countries suffers from a crucial shortage of approximately 2.4 million doctors , nurses and midwives.

We have a governmental agency in this country that is similar to Seed called the National Health Service Corps (NHSC). Instead of training other doctors, these practitioners provide direct care to over 9 million underserved patients in America. I had heard of young physicians working in disadvantaged areas in order to have their debt relieved – mostly primary care practitioners in Native American territories. But their website lists rural clinics in MA, MN and HI as well! https://nhsc.hrsa.gov/index.html

May the spirit of Ubuntu bless us all this holiday season. Let’s not quibble over greetings like Merry Christmas or Happy Hanukkah or Happy Holidays, or worry about who’s stealing what celebration from whom. We are all God’s children. And even if you don’t believe in God, just smile and say “Same to You!” My card this year says “Merry Everything” and I mean it.


And thank you Shutterfly, you rule!


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Another tragedy has struck our quiet part of VA. Over the weekend I heard that a UVA student had died in a boating accident during her Semester at Sea off the coast of Dominica. http://abcnews.go.com/US/university-virginia-student-diver-killed-boat-propeller-dominica/story?id=17868006#.UL3yk7T3Bdg News spreads quickly in this town, but simultaneously I heard about Casey Schulman’s death via Facebook from Grandma Clown. Barry Lubin, who developed and starred as the world famous Big Apple Circus clown for decades, just happens to be my FB Friend. We met him a few times when the circus passed through Arrowhead Farm and the kids were little; and we continued the tradition after moving back to NJ, never missing their opening act at Lincoln Center. https://mountainmornings.wordpress.com/2011/08/01/did-you-jump/

Lubin is retired from the circus now, he has moved to Sweden, and has been part of the faculty onboard the MV Explorer for Semester at Sea this year, teaching among other things, a Physical Comedy class. You may have seen him interviewed on the PBS program “Circus.” I’ve vicariously enjoyed his travels, even wanting to tango in Argentina along with him, as you can tell by his recent post:
“…I clowned in Ghana, I hung out with an Ambassador. I saw baboons and penguins and an albatross. I sailed up the Amazon. I walked on Ipanema Beach. America, Canada, Ireland, England, Belgium, Portugal, Spain, Ghana, South Africa, Argentina, Uruguay, Brazil, and tomorrow Dominica. One day very soon, from dry land, I will look out over the sea and I will long to be on top of it again, sailing to the world.”

I wish all the students, the staff and crew onboard a safe journey home. I know that Lubin, who helped to start a clowning program in NYC hospitals for children, will bring his kind and caring support to those in need. I cannot imagine the pain of losing a child; I wish the Schulman family the strength, love and support to see them through this storm of grief. Prayers from a saddened Cville community are with them. Their daughter will forever be a 4th year UVA student, the girl who’s smile would “…light up an entire room.”

“She lived for twenty-two years, but it was the most resilient twenty-two years anyone could have,” said Sean Saadat, a biology senior at George Mason University and close friend. “She got to travel the world, she found love, she was loved—she did more in those twenty-two years than most people do in eighty.”
“Seeing death as the end of life is like seeing the horizon as the end of the ocean.” Searls

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