Friday, November 27, 2009

Attitude of Gratitude

Thanksgiving is sweeter than bounty itself.

One who cherishes gratitude does not cling to the gift!

Thanksgiving is the true meat of God’s bounty;

The bounty is its shell,

For thanksgiving carries you to the hearth of the Beloved.

Abundance alone brings heedlessness,

Thanksgiving gives birth to alertness.

The bounty of thanksgiving will satisfy and elevate you,

And you will bestow a hundred bounties in return.

Eat your fill of God’s delicacies,

And you will be freed from hunger and begging.

- Rumi

(the photo is Del Mar California at sunset, Thanksgiving Day 2009)

Thursday, November 26, 2009

A whole lotta feeding going on....

It’s Thanksgiving holiday here in the States. It’s a day for reflection, giving of thanks, and eating to the point of unconsciousness. How wonderful it is to live in a society that, generally, has plenty of food. How remarkable it is that we can regularly count on being able to feast in some form on this day. We truly do live in a time of bounty, in spite of all the gloom out there. We are a protected, fat society.

Yet to listen to the news broadcasts we are in dire straits, and there is want and despair and fear everywhere. We are instructed that we must be afraid of almost everything. Fear, fear, fear. And then, almost simultaneously, we are urged to buy or consume something which will purportedly alleviate this fear. The latest pharmaceutical. The latest electronic toy to distract us. Clothes to make us look better. Gifts to make others think better of us. Or we are urged to fund something that will supposedly take the fear away. Fund a war. Fund a campaign. But there is always another fear put in our minds, another fear to be fed and assuaged by another thing we must consume. Fear is fed to us, and we feed the fear back again…. A vicious cycle. We are a fearful, fat society.

For the past few days I’ve been put in mind of a Native American parable about the two wolves. You know this one; here’s my paraphrase: the Old One is teaching the Young One, and instructs that in each person’s life there are two wolves. Each wolf is magnificent and strong, full of powerful energy and very fierce.

One wolf is the doer of good; the one who fights for right; who defends and champions those unable to help themselves, and embodies all that is Good. This wolf is a careful mother to her pups, defends the pack, and maintains happy order. This wolf keeps us in positive thoughts and actions.

The other wolf is sinister and dark; this wolf preys on bad thoughts, exploits negative impulses and encourages us to go down the road of wrong action and negative intention. This second wolf embodies all that is Wrong. This wolf nips at the pups and takes food away from the pack without sharing.

The Old One further instructs that in our lives, these two wolves are in a constant, mortal struggle for our minds and souls, and fighting, snarling, and biting occurs often.

Wide eyed, the Young One asks: Which one wins? Which one lives? And the Old One smiles, responding “The one you feed.”.

So I ask you, Gentle Reader: who are you feeding? At any given moment, ask yourself: which wolf am I feeding?

When you have a choice of action, consider the likely results; consider the wolves. Every word you speak, every action you make, feeds one or the other wolf. It may not be dramatic; it may be a subtle thing. But every scrap ultimately feeds one or the other.

The quantum physicists dance and wave their arms (they are an animated lot) as they describe how each thought sends out an energy beam that ultimately takes form as a particle. Thoughts do become things. They really do. Each thought will manifest as something somewhere.

Today is a great day of eating and happiness. Whether you are with family, with friends, or curled up relishing a quiet day away from it all, take a moment and reflect on all that you have to be thankful for, and do a status check on those two wolves. Which one is more robust? Which one are you feeding more?

And is it really necessary to be so afraid as a society? Yes, there are negative forces and things to recognize, resolve, and with which to deal. It’s not all sparkly unicorns and happy dancing. But we do not need to be afraid. We need to take positive action.

Right now I’m hearing a wolf howling. Do you hear it? A proud, victorious wolf howling that she is alive and well and Being. Which one do you hear?

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Some days you have to flip a lot of crepes...

Those of you who are my Facebook friends know I went to a crepe making demonstration yesterday with the Legal Baker ( It all looked so effortless and fun. The venue was very generous with freebie gifts. I wound up buying a Scanpan brand crepe pan and resolved to finally learn how to make the delectable thin pancake I have enjoyed for years.

Armed with recipe cards from the venue I headed home and once there I looked up Julia Child’s crepe recipe. Looks straightforward enough, I thought. To make it even better I already had all the ingredients on my shelf.

This morning I awoke to Gesine having blogged about crepes:( Kismet! Have to make crepes! I am totally in the flow! The zeitgeist! The quantum reality! It’s total crepe energy this weekend! As Deepak Chopra is fond of saying: “I got your message in the field” (insider quantum reality joke: nyuk nyuk nyuk).

It was rapidly made clear to me that I am no Julia Child. I am no Gesine Bullock-Prado. I am no Legal Baker.

Such a comedy! Even the cats were laughing their furballs off. I mixed up the batter (easy!) and set it in the fridge to settle out for an hour. Returned, fired up the miraculous Scanpan, and commenced to pouring batter.

Well, it takes a certain touch. And I realized after the first pancake came out thick as an IHOP griddlecake that I lacked the touch. I recall the instructor yesterday just grabbed the edges of the thing and flipped it over. She must have long ago killed off the nerve endings of her fingers because that sucker is way too hot to flip that way!

I tried the old Julia Child flip-it-in-the-air technique. Ah, no. By now the cats were snorting milk out their noses it was so funny. The pancakes had the right flavor (I was using Gesine’s recipe) but the texture and thickness and shape were all wrong!

Finally I got it right. Figured out how much batter to put in the pan; when to nudge it with the spatula, and how to get it to slap over to cook on the reverse side. Finally! Wafer thin pancakes! And it only took me an entire bowl of batter to figure it out.

I immediately stuffed one with cherries and ladled on some lemon curd (making do with what was on the shelf – I hadn’t thought through the filling bit too thoroughly). Sweet. I filled another one with spinach soufflĂ© from last night. Savory.

So… other than the magic of laughter, where’s the household magic in all this? Oh, to be sure, I did laugh the entire way through the experiment – those crappy crepes were too funny. But other than that…

I think the lesson is somewhere in the notion that: In life some of our initial attempts at whatever we are meant to do may be a little unlike what we might have originally intended. It’s up to us as individuals to regard the result, compare it to what we intended, and then fine-tune our actions to try again. And again. And again. And finally it will come out as you wish it to be

And what really helps is to have friends to laugh with and at you (with love!) and stay with you on along the way.

Now…. Maybe I’ll make some hollandaise for that spinach crepe….

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Late Night Rumi-nations

The breeze at dawn has secrets to tell you.
Don't go back to sleep.

You must ask for what you really want.
Don't go back to sleep.

People are going back and forth across the doorsill
where the two worlds touch.

The door is round and open.
Don't go back to sleep.


Sunday, November 15, 2009

Ripple Effect

Saturday I went to a local beach clean up with some friends. We were part of a greater pick up effort organized by a coastal conservancy group. It was good exercise, lots of fresh air, and a good deed done as we picked up ciggie butts, fishing line, endless quantities of styrofoam and plastic, and the occasional mylar balloon (why oh why do people get them? And why do they let them loose into the air? ).

It occurs to me that there are two kinds of people: those who litter, and those who pick up the litter.

And moreover, in our lives we are, each of us, at any given moment both of those types of people. Sometimes we make a mess and leave it for someone else. Sometimes we clean up a mess we didn’t make. It might be a physical mess, like not bussing your table at a fast food restaurant, or it might be emotional, like a careless, hurtful comment hurled without editorial thought or reason.

Perhaps the trick of it is to recognize this and to be conscious of what we do each day. Are we leaving a mess for someone else? What impact are we having? And then act in a way consistent with your consciousness.

Our actions ripple out from us energetically like the water radiating in tiny waves from an object thrown in the ocean. What we do matters, even on a small scale.

Sunday, November 8, 2009


Yesterday I spent time at the local Wild Animal Park. It is so soothing to walk in nature and see and hear the animals. True they are captive, and I ‘get’ the arguments against animal captivity, but the WAP is a fairly tranquil place and the animals are in natural surroundings with plenty of room and socialization. Even the elephants, who start their day in their dormitory, have their gates opened and they can roam all day on the acreage the WAP provides. It’s a beautiful sight to see them head out in the morning: the Grande Dames with their babies carefully sheltered in the middle of the group.

Yesterday I received two messages while walking. The animals teach us by their example.

The first was at the aforementioned elephant enclosure. We always beeline there as soon as we enter the Park, in order to watch the elephants come out, stretch, have some hay, have a piddle and a poo, and then head out for their day on the savannah. Frequently the keepers ‘wrangle’ them by preoccupying some of them with hand fed treats to distract while others of their group are moved around and by this corralling all personalities are indulged.

One of the wranglers had an elephant at the edge of the enclosure just where we were standing and was feeding him pellets, which must be delicious Ganeshe versions of chocolate truffles or something. Up would come the trunk, in the most supplicating manner: the edges of his moist snout undulating in sheer ‘Gimme, Gimme’ wriggling. Pellets produced. Pellets ingested. Up comes the trunk again: Gimme, Gimme. More pellets produced. The elephant endlessly asked; the keeper endlessly provided. No games; no ‘qualifying’ for the treat.

Elephant Asks. Elephant Gets.

Eventually, after about ten minutes, the episode concluded and the elephant stopped asking and ambled out toward the fields.

Note: it was the elephant who stopped asking; not the keeper who stopped giving.

I think we must keep this in mind as to the Universe. If we ask, we get. We don’t have to justify. We don’t have to feel bad or undeserving. And we don’t have to feel as though the supply is limited. Just ask. Ask with total confidence. Know that the response will come (therein lies the challenge for most of us). Those so-called sages who sell a lot of product by writing that you have to ask in a certain way are a little skewed. You’ll get what you ask for, so be mindful of what you ask for…. But that’s about it in the direction department.

The second message was at the lion enclosure. We were walking about a quarter mile away and heard the most immense ROARING. It was deafening and certainly caught our attention in an awe inspiring way. ROAR!

We went trotting over to the window that looks out to where the lions live, and there was a young male.

He was sitting there roaring. Just roaring. He didn’t seem remotely upset. He was just roaring. Then he would sit and look at the crowd and pose for pictures. He really would pose – he was smiling and would turn his head here and there just as surely as if he were a young star emerging from dinner at Mr. Chow’s in Los Angeles to face the paparazzi. And then he would sit down and ROAR some more. This was not a pacing, sad lion. This was a proud personality who was having a bit of fun with the humans who had gathered to look at his wonderfulness.

He put me in mind of my old cat Radames, now passed, who lived with me for twenty-one years. He roared every morning. He would get up, stretch, grab a bite, and then walk around the house roaring before settling down in a sunbeam. I think it was just love of life he was expressing.

The message I got from this young lion was that it doesn’t matter where you are. It doesn’t matter whether you are in your natural environment in Africa or in an artificial construct in North America. You Are. You Matter. And you can roar. You can be yourself and do your thing- and indeed you should do your thing-no matter where life, circumstances, or you have placed yourself.

So it doesn’t matter that you have lost resources in this current depression. It doesn’t matter if you are weakened with injury or chronic illness. You Are. You Matter. It’s important to roar and to smile at those who appreciate your wonderfulness.

Ask. Roar. See what happens.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Yeastie Beasties

Today is a sunny, bright, autumn day; not too hot and not too cold. I can feel the change of the season and it feels wonderful. Am just going with the flow this weekend and the flow pulls me to baking. Something about hearth and home. Likely some primal urge that has to do with putting away food for a long cold winter housebound.

Yesterday I had company and so mixed up some starter to bubble and froth. Today that yeasty beastie joined up to make the dough for some olive bread sandwich rolls for use next week. Lovely artisan dough… salty kalamatas….the house is filled with the aroma of bread.

I saved some of the starter and will feed it daily until the next round of bread making. I want to get back into the rhythm of making all the household bread once more. That crock of starter will serve me well, and I shall call it… Sidonie. Yes – am feeling my Celtic roots so shall call it Sidonie the is alive after all; it should have a name. Sidonie lives on the kitchen counter and makes the whole room smell wonderful. I am put in mind of Anthony Bourdain's wonderful book: Kitchen Confidential. In it he describes his baker who would frequently call in sick, actually on a bender, and yell at the staff to feed the starter: "Feed the bitch! Feed her or she'll die!" Sidonie shall never go wanting.

Couldn’t stop the kitchen energy so boiled up a fresh batch of hummingbird nectar for the week ahead, and made frosting for some vanilla bundtlets I’d made earlier in the weekend. They aren’t the most aesthetically pleasing looking baked goods in the world, but they sure are yummy.

Paired with coffee, they are perfect for early afternoon knoshing on a Sunday.

The Full Moon is coming, too and I’ve been hauling crystals outside to get charged up. Every evening a fresh rotation. Last night I put out my bag of crystals that I use for chakra healing work. They have a lot of reiki energy on them already in addition to their own little buzz, but Luna adds to the mix and now the sack fairly giggles with good vibes. Slipped them under my pillow but the cats hauled them out to nap with. Smart kitties. I tried to photograph the stones but they kept whiting out the camera. Powerful little buggers.

Yeah, just domestic today. A good fall day.