Saturday, June 05, 2010

Thank You Cards

So who knew that eloping would still result in gifts?  Certainly not I.  Nor Rob.  So here we were, receiving gifts from people and we had to choose a thank you card we both liked.  A trip to World Market and Target turned up nothing that thrilled us but we finally found something we liked at Borders.  (Actually, to be honest we found lovely cards at Target but we didn't need 50 cards.)

Given how long it typically takes for Rob and I to agree on anything, the fact that we only went to three stores and found something we liked is really quite remarkable.

But it doesn't end there because once we had the cards it occurred to us (okay, it occurred to me) that we needed appropriate stamps.  Sure we could have just used the last of the Christmas stamps but I couldn't see putting a toy soldier stamp on the thank you for the wedding gift cards.  I figured we could just use whatever Love stamps were out there but then we made a discovery.

There are wedding band postage stamps.  Ooooh.  So we had to have those.

And now we have sent out the Thank You cards with appropriately grateful comments inside.  We only needed to send three.  If we'd had a wedding with lots of invited guests and received a lot of wedding gifts it would have been a lot more stressful even though we would have gotten a lot more gifts, I suppose.  I'm okay with it.  I was able to write nice notes (at least I think they were nice) and I love what we have.  Rob does too.

And for no particular reason, here is a photograph of Rob's ring, although he preferred to wear white gold rather than yellow gold.  And one of my own engagement ring.  My wedding band is a slender plain wedding band that belonged to his Aunt Jenny.

 As of today, Rob and I have been married for one month.
My mother told me that when she and her husband were married, she didn't believe that things would or could get better but they did for her and she knew they would for me and Rob.
She was right.
Things are getting better all the time.  

Just a Moment of Sharing

I was commenting on another person's blog about the unique challenges that drawing with a ballpoint pen offers. I was reminded of this self-portrait my daughter did on the back of a quizno's order slip using a ballpoint pen.

On a completely different note, I am trying to decide what book to read next.  Here are the books I am shuffling through and trying to decide between:

Friday, June 04, 2010

Movie Review: I'm Not There

Anyone who knows me . . .
anyone who knows Rob . . .
won't be surprised that this movie was fairly high on our "to be seen" list.

I have to say, without hesitation, that this movie was interesting, intelligent, and provocative in all the right ways.

I also cannot say this enough:  I love Cate Blanchett.  Every time I see her in something, I am blown away, impressed all over again as if for the first time.

Michelle Williams is someone else who keeps showing up in odd places and surprising me in new ways.

As for the rest, there is not a single performance that isn't wonderful (although Bale's lip syncing leaves something to be desired).

From imdb:
Different sections of the film were inspired by different cinematic sources. The "Jude" section was inspired by  (1963), the "Billy" section was inspired by the so-called "hippie westerns" of the late 60s and early 70s (such as Sam Peckinpah's films) and the "Robbie" section was inspired by the films of Jean-Luc Godard, especially Masculin féminin: 15 faits précis (1966). 
If you've seen the movie you are nodding your head.  Yep.  Yep.  Yep.

If not, and you are even remotely a fan of Dylan's work (or Peckinpah's and/or Godard's), then see it.  But don't think you can sit back and watch this idly.  You have to pay attention.  You have to watch with intention.  In the end, you will watch with much appreciation.  

As for the extras on the dvd, we skimmed them but didn't linger.  The movie was gratifying enough.  

Friday Randomness--Retreats & Such

Create your own writing retreat.

Create your own spa treatment retreat.

Create your own creativity retreat

Create your own prayer retreat.  (Unfortunately, this one suggests you “go elsewhere” so I suggest reading some of the other retreat ideas that actually show you how to do this at home.)

For those who are wondering where it is my mother and I go when we go on our retreats, this is where we spend our time.

I am currently reading a book by Victoria Moran and I can only say that I had such a wonderful experience with Randi Eisman's yoga classes that I would imagine the weekend described below will be glorious.

May 14-16: Transforming Stress: The Art of Joyful Living with Randi Eisman & Victoria Moran
This special weekend program will provide you with the tools for the transformation of your tension and stress.
Through the integration of gentle and restorative yoga postures, breathing, meditation and deep relaxation you will be nurtured to a state of balance, harmony and peaceful well-being. 
Learn to incorporate these stress management techniques into your day, allowing yourself to move through the challenges of life in joy and equanimity. 
Join Randi and Victoria this weekend and embrace this opportunity to relax, mind, body and soul. 

And such . . . 

I love how this aunt used her creativity to inspire her nephew and help him through a challenging life experience.

And this is just plain fun.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

And Another Show I Enjoyed Bites the Dust

Four Fatal Flaws of 'FlashForward' | ABC | Canceled | Quantum Physics | series finale | Fancast News:
"From this riveting case study, much can be gleaned about the preferences of the average American television viewer. Here are a few theories – none of which rely upon a postdoctoral education to grasp."
As we all know, if I love it from the first season, it will probably be canceled before there is a second season. There was one exception but that merely proves the overall rule.

The Cure--Love Song

Because I've been sharing random love songs Rob and I associate with one another, here's yet another one.

Use of Reiki in Alcoholism Treatment Centers

Use of Reiki in Alcoholism Treatment Centers
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Wednesday, June 02, 2010

The Wisdom of Yoga by Stephen Cope

The Wisdom of Yoga:  A Seeker's Guide to Extraordinary Living by Stephen Cope is a sort of sequel to his book Yoga and the Search for the True Self. This time Cope shares the stories of a small group of friends, each intensively committed to a yoga practice for different reasons. Through the experiences these six share, Cope explores Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras and his own understanding of the philosophy of yoga.

Cope is once again candid with his own struggles while also sharing the stories of those with whom he shared a part of his spiritual journey. Although he states at the beginning of the book that none of these people is a real individual but rather a conglomerate of people with whom he has interacted, the way he presents each person makes them feel like a single soul, someone one might meet and even want to meet for themselves. Flawed as they are, Cope has combined people who really knew into characters who are so believable that sometimes the reader (or at least I) can get confused by the veracity of what he is writing and how the philosophy Patanjali defined nearly 2000 years ago can influence the experience of contemporary people.

This is not a commentary on Patanjali’s work so much as it is an experiential explanation of how yoga can dynamically change a person who is open or even eager for spiritual growth. Cope does an excellent job of explaining how rāja-yoga and Buddhism are similar and different justifying his own choice to use Buddhist meditation practices in conjunction with a yoga practice. This is an inspired decision and when he later shares a vision for future spirituality, I confess I found myself excited. Although the author set out to publish a commentary, what he offers is something more intimate and presumably accessible. Perhaps a wise choice, I am sorry that Cope did not share more of his understanding of the sutras and I can only hope that in the future he finds a way of sharing his interpretation so that others may be inspired to perhaps find their own meaning in the text. Hopefully, he will find a way to do so someday soon.


All wisdom traditions insist upon a healthy mistrust of other people’s answers—or even the revealed experience of others.  (xxxi)

To know that we are not our thoughts is the first step toward freedom.  (28)

Not seeing suffering is suffering.  (47)

As meditation proceeds, we make a wonderful discovery:  We do not have to learn how to be happy.  We already know.  (50)

Most Western psychotherapeutic models scrupulously avoid prescribing any kind of direct and willful cultivation of so-called wholesome behavior.  Psychodynamic psychotherapists hold that will learn to act in more wholesome ways once they understand the historical and unconscious sources of their problems and once they have experienced the healing of their problems, and once they have experienced the healing of their capacity to love and be loved and be loved in the development and resolution of the therapeutic relationship. 

There are serious problems with the strategy.  First of all, it is often not true.  There are patients for whom mountains of insight never matures into a molehill of behavioral change—or happiness and freedom.  (167)

Right effort, [Patanjali] says, consists of four practices:
  1. To prevent evil, unwholesome states from arising
  2. To abandon them if they should arise
  3. To generate wholesome states not yet existing
  4. To maintain them without lapse, causing them to develop and to reach full growth and perfection.  (176-177)
Unless there is greed, we can systematically train the heart toward generosity.  Where there is anger, we can train the heart toward loving kindness.  Where there is jealousy and envy, we can train the heart toward sympathetic joy.  Where there is hatred, train toward compassion—and so forth.  In the yoga tradition, each afflictive emotion has its own “opposite” or “antidote” which can be intentionally cultivated.  (177)

The yoga traditions are specific about which qualities need to be trained.  A partial list would be:
            Moderation (mitahar)
            Faith (āstikya)
            Patience (dhairya)
            Forbearance (kshamā)
            Compassion (daya)
            Straightforwardness (ārjava)
            Humility (hr­ī)
            Loving kindness (metta)
            Sympathetic joy (muditā)
            Equanimity (upeksa) 

The Buddha . . . taught the ten paramis (or ten perfections:  generosity, patience, loving kindness, strong determination, awareness, equanimity, ethical behavior, concentration, insight, and truthfulness.  (178)

Adapted from Sylvia Boorstein
May you feel protected and safe.
May you feel contented and pleased.
My your body support you with strength.
May your life unfold smoothly and with ease.  (183-184)

Quoting Svatmarama
Those who practice hatha and do not know rāja-yoga, I consider such practitioners to be depriving themselves of the fruit of their endeavor.

Without rāja-yoga, the earth is inauspicious.  Without rāja-yoga, the night is inauspicious.  Without rāja-yoga, even mudrās are inauspicious.  (197)

Breathing deeply is not necessarily the same as breathing fully and effectively.  Truly effective breathing involves long, slow exhalation and natural (nor forced or excessive) inhalation.  (207)

Quoting from Shree Rajneesh
The Secret of Secrets, VolII p 281
God is.  There is no question of God’s being.  The question is, we cannot see Him.  We don’t have eyes.  All the meditation and the prayers and the purifications only help you, make you capable of seeing.  Once you can see, you will be surprised—it has always been there.  Day in, day out, year in, year out, it was showing on you, but you were not sensitive enough to catch hold of it, you were not empty enough to be filled by it.  You were too much full of your own ego.  (271)

Finally, I would say that these overlapping areas of view and practice that we have examined only serve to point out, once again, that classical yoga and Buddhism are sister traditions.  They have traded ideas and practices back and forth for two thousand years, and continue to do so.  For most of us, this is not a problem.  I would to even further.  I believe that these two great traditions will experience a rapprochement in the West, which will integrate them in a new fashion.  We are already seeing evidence of this:  postures (āshana) and breathing practices (prānāyāma) have found their way into many Buddhist meditation retreats.  Meditation practices from Buddhism have found their way into many yoga studios. The process has begun.  I wish not to confuse the issue, but also I do not wish to resist a healthy rapprochement.  (282)

Tuesday, June 01, 2010 Holistic healing Holistic healing: "Following the Reiki treatment, Frankie slowly began to feel better, and two days later he seemed like his old self. 'Reiki absolutely helped him,' says Delaney, who didn’t hesitate to schedule a follow-up session." This article is about Reiki for pets. I always find it remarkable that animals know when they need Reiki and will actually ask for it in their own way.

45K Words

As an experiment, I decided to see how many words I would write in May.

The truth is, I didn't track everything.  There are emails, letters, so many other random things I didn't copy into this one document.  So the grand total, which comes in close to 45K is probably about 20K short.

Part of the experiment included posting blog content above and beyond my endless book reviews.  I kept an eye on comments to see where there is interest in what I am writing.  Needless to say I ignored the bullshit spam comments.  I figure that part of the reason for posting is to post those things to which the readers are most responsive.  The rest of the stuff is only necessary if it is necessary for me and I don't need to post something (which typically means typing out something I've written longhand) because that's just time consuming.

The month is over.

The experiment is over.

I want to thank everyone who participated.  Much love.  I appreciate it.

The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick

The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick is another of the Caldecott Medal winning children’s books I am committed to reading.  However, this one is hardly a picture book;  it is a surprising confluence of typical story telling with graphic novel like pages that flow from one to the next, classic hero tale with an homage to cinema, all told with a precise metaphor of clockwork imagery.  There is often a subtlety to the visuals that one typically finds in poetry. From the very first page where the reader is invited to first image a movie theater screen and then follow as a young boy moves through the crowd, one knows something special is about to happen.  Selznick's use of images to communicate emotion without words is especially remarkable.  (I am thinking in particular of a visual effect he creates when an old man looks at a drawing in a notebook with only slight changes from page to page but the changes communicate as much, if not more, than words could convey.)

All of the main characters are complex, each with his or her own agenda, often conflicted, occasionally even unlikable.  Yet the honesty of Selznick’s creation, whether visual or oral, is undeniable.  This book is a treasure above and beyond, a bold means of storytelling one rarely finds presented let alone appreciated in children’s books.  This is a book I plan on buying and sharing with the young readers in my life.

For those who share this book with a young reader, this link will be a wonderful surprise after the book is finished.  Enjoy!

Monday, May 31, 2010

Just another love song . . . this one I chose

Hands-on approach to healing both the body and the mind

Hands-on approach to healing both the body and the mind
This article is about Reiki and the author describes her own experience in receiving a treatment from a Reiki Master who started her life as a healer in traditional medicine as a registered nurse.

Free Reiki for Veterans

I have decided to give free Reiki to all veterans.  I can give distance Reiki or face-to-face sessions.  I know I am trying to raise money right now, This seems a small thing to do.  

If you are a veteran or know a veteran who would like Reiki, please feel free to email me.  

Please have the veteran contact me personally.  I do not want to send Reiki to anyone who has not specifically requested it for himself or herself.  

Thank you.  

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Sunday, May 30, 2010

Five More Children's Books

As part of my plan to try to "read" all of the Caldecott Medal winners, I offer the following reviews.

Visually a lovely book.  There really is no story, however.  This is one of those bedtime books that is almost rigidly meant to be read around bedtime with the inevitably repetitions and such.

Another of those books I can't imagine reading night after night.

This is one of those rare gems--a true picture book that tells a story without using a single word.  While at the beach, a boy finds something that has washed ashore and what follows is simply magical.

The illustrations are lovely and so eloquent.  When my children were younger, I would have used a book like this to suggest they write a story to go along with the illustrations.  An adventurous adult might even go so far as to buy two copies of this book and take the pages apart to piece the content together with what the children writes or perhaps paste the child's written narrative in between the images.

An utterly enchanting story.

A true picture book.  No words.  All imagery.

This book is based on the Aesop fable.  A child already familiar with Aesop's fables will likely love the images in this lavish book.  A child not yet familiar may find some of the content confusing.  The lion catches the mouse and then the mouse is back in its den presumably telling its family about the lion but some things are simply lost without the words.

A pretty book but the power of this fable is less in its images and more fully realized in simply the words. Perhaps, invite the child to create their own illustrated version of the fable and then "read" this book together.

A cute story with vivid illustrations that celebrates family.  A child describes visiting grandparents and the fun that can be had even in approaching the grandparent's home.

The family is multi-racial and the child's gender is never clearly defined.

For these reasons alone, I would highly recommend this book because it welcomes discussion in older readers while celebrating family.  Whatever age the child may be, there is something in these pages to discover.

There is a fifth book I can and will share.  For reasons that will be apparent later, I am choosing to review the book separate from these.

Print Article: Do Twilight, Harry Potter open door to the Devil?

Print Article: Do Twilight, Harry Potter open door to the Devil?:
"Julian Porteous, the auxiliary bishop of Sydney, warns that pursuing such ''alternative'' relaxation techniques as yoga, reiki massages and tai chi may encourage experimentation with ''deep and dark spiritual ideas and traditions''."
Well, I guess I'm thrice damned.
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