Friday, November 28, 2014

Warrior of Light

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Thursday, November 27, 2014

I am thankful for

One of my favorite things to do before all the festivities of Thankful Giving Day is to watch the parade!
I love marching bands.
Balloons and floats are awesome!
I am thankful for my cozy little living room full of parade sounds!

I am so grateful for the many ways I am able to express myself. I am grateful for my amazing job as a college professor. I get to be ON for a couple of hours a day, super high energy, using my info-tainment talents to teach, watching people learn and change before my very eyes.

Then I get to do my testing, prepping, and communicating from this very position (above) on my sofa with my laptop and my cats.

Not a single detail of this blessing escapes my thankfulness. 

Super bonus of 2014: my health is continuing to improve.
Thank you God, for the miracle of healing. I"m about 100 times healthier now than when I started this blog. I'm continuing to get stronger and more able.

May you all have many blessings to count on this Thanksgiving Day!

P.S. OMG they're doing the Lion Dance in front of Macy's right now!! The Sino-American Friendship Association sponsored a float called 'The Beauty of Beijing' full of dragons, lions, dancers, and pagodas. I couldn't be happier.

This just happened.

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Wednesday, November 26, 2014

No Shop Thanksgiving

I understand the well intentioned "No Shop Thanksgiving" boycotts, but if you're not shopping on Thanksgiving for the sake of the workers, there are plenty of other things you shouldn't do in order to let people spend time with their families.

If you're traveling by car on Thanksgiving Day, don't suddenly need to pull over for gas. Gas pumpers and gas-station mini-mart cashiers will have to work on Thanksgiving Day because of you. Should we gas up the day before and only travel as far as a single tank of gas will take us in order to give them all the day off?

If you're traveling by car on Thanksgiving Day, don't break down and need to have your car towed. Tow truck drivers need to spend time with their families, too. Walk to wherever you have to go. Unable to walk?
Don't call a cab. Cab drivers deserve to spend time with their families, right?

Anything associated with car travel should be avoided like driving on a toll road (toll collectors need their time off), needing roadside assistance from AAA, or God forbid getting into an accident, which brings me to...

Don't need any emergency services on Thanksgiving Day. Ambulance drivers, EMTs, cops, firefighters, coast guard, military...ok, you get what I'm saying.

If you're in the hospital, thank the people working in the kitchen for providing you with a hot meal. Since when does a line cook qualify as essential personnel? Uh, everyday. Patients need to eat every day. No time off for kitchen staff. No time off for hospital security guards, the orderlies, the aids, the nurses, the ER docs, the ER nurses, the pulmonary staff, the ER radiologists, the pharmacists, the janitorial staff, the maintenance folks, the parking lot attendees, or anyone else working at their regular duties at the hospital on Thanksgiving as if it were any other day.

When I was in my early 20s struggling to keep a roof over my head I worked at the popcorn stand at the movie theater and guess what. I worked EVERY HOLIDAY rain or shine. Popcorn stand. Movie theater. Merry f***ing Christmas.

You don't know sacrilege until you've served a hot dog on Easter Sunday morning.

Need over the counter medicine on Thanksgiving? You better hope someone works at your local drug store chain or you're shit outa luck.

How about convenience stores? Better hope you bought all the coffee fixins and any other last minute thing you might need for your Norman Rockwellian holiday meal if you're sticking to No Shop Thanksgiving.

People at the phone and power company? Cable? They'll have staff on duty aaaallll day and night.

Turn on your TV or radio on Thanksgiving. Robots aren't powering the airwaves, people are. Guess they don't get to celebrate with their families on Thanksgiving either. Let's let the airwaves go dark and silent on Thanksgiving Day in honor of the holiday!

That means no football. Oh, I guess the players, refs, security, concessions folk, camera people, newscasters, sportscasters, cheerleaders and everyone associated with professional sports don't get to celebrate on Thanksgiving till their games are over all because of you! Tsk tsk tsk.

Thanksgiving Day Parade? It ends at Macy's. Macy's is open. Santa is there ON THANKSGIVING.

Traffic helicopters? Still flying.

Ferry captains? Still boating.

Buses, trains, and subways? People are on duty driving them.

Highway diners? Cooks, hosts, servers, and probably management of some sort will be there serving up diner turkey.

Chinese restaurants and most chain pizza joints? They'll be cooking and delivering.

Traveled for the holiday, did you? If you're staying at a hotel, your desk clerk, concierge, maids, and valets are working for you.

Live in a building with a doorman? Bring him down some leftovers cuz he's working on Thanksgiving.

Let's hope the lighthouse operators don't take a day off. Air traffic controllers either.

So, why all the fuss about retail workers?

Some folks are saying it's a sacrilege to be shopping for mall-stuff on a holiday. Ok, then tell me how pushing yourself away from the Thanksgiving table to go play video games, bury your face in your phone, get drunk, fall asleep, or do whatever it is you do to avoid interacting with your family is any less of a sacrilege.

Please tell me how you're keeping the holiday "holy" with quality family activities. Tell me how everyone is interacting warmly, playing games, catching up with each other, sitting by the fire telling tales, or doing whatever it is that makes a Thanksgiving a holy-day. No really, please tell me. I want to hear about families who actually enjoy their time together.

Hey, some people might be having a classic Thanksgiving with all the whimsical family activities that come with a picturesque holiday. I hope that is what you're doing. I hope you are appreciating time with family. I hope you take the time to count your blessings and be thankful. Maybe you'll even sit around together and watch a treasured family slideshow or movie. May you experience the joy of togetherness, truly.

Just remember the many, many people who have to work on the holiday no matter what.

And if there are retail stores open and you do go to one, maybe to buy Grandma a nice sweater to wear as you huddle near the fire after dinner, or to get Cousin Rah Rah his first football so you can toss it around in the backyard or whatever it is that you absolutely must get on Thanksgiving Day, be nice to the workers. Be extra nice. Maybe they are making a big sacrifice to be there on a holiday.

But don't self-righteously proclaim that by not shopping you're somehow making a huge difference in the amount of people who get to celebrate the holiday at home. Look around at all the services we take for granted that will be up and running because a significant portion of the population have jobs that require them to work on holidays.

Be thankful to them.

Just sayin'.

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Tuesday, November 25, 2014

brace for dandelions

What I need is the dandelion in the spring. 
The bright yellow that means rebirth 
instead of destruction. 
The promise that life can go on, 
no matter how bad our losses.
- Katniss Everdeen

Sometimes we live life like we're bracing for impact rather than being open to blessings. Why? Because of that phrase "being open." If we're open we can get hurt. Bracing is a form of psychological self-defense. There are many problems that occur as a result of living a life in a bracing-state for too long, including chronic pain and inflammation, for instance.

Chronic pain and inflammation don't just stay at a low ebb forever. They eventually manifest as acute illness.

It's too long a topic to go into in detail right now, but let's just say that the very act of trying to protect ourselves from acute pain can be the very thing that ends up causing acute illness.

Katniss is right. We need more dandelions and less explosions or else the color yellow will forever make us brace for impact rather than be open to the joy of spring.

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Monday, November 24, 2014

Warrior and the Wallet

You never know your wallet is missing until you look for it. This was the second time in the past month that I went into my backpack to get my wallet and it wasn't there. The last time it was missing I had left it at the Barnes and Nobel 45 minutes away. When I called hoping they'd found it they had it at the register waiting for me with everything intact including the cash.

Last night's episode of wallet-loss was a bit different. We were already in the parking lot at the movie theater to see Mocking Jay Part 1 (it rocked!). When I picked up my backpack. It felt light. I opened it to get my Stubs card out of my wallet and lo and wallet. My friend asked where I last had it. I remembered having it out at the Stop and Shop as I exited the store and gave a dollar donation to the kid selling candy. I should have bought the $3 box of candy instead of only donating the dollar! Called Stop and Shop. No wallet. Damn.

At that point I could have postponed our movie outing to go back to the Stop and Shop to look for it, but the movie was more important to me. Having a nice night with Katniss, drinks, and dinner meant more to me than the fate of all my credit cards, cash, and IDs. I said I knew I had good car karma and good wallet karma. I wasn't worried. So, into the dine-in theater we went for a glorious evening. I texted the BFF who was on his way to my place to watch Walking Dead with his girlfriend Heather while I was out. They looked in the grocery bags, all over the living room, and outside by my parking spot for the wallet. No wallet. Oh well.

On the way home from the movie we went to the Stop and Shop to do a wallet search. The cart guy hadn't found it. No one had turned it in inside the store. I was truly surprised. See, when I discovered it missing,  I had this calm feeling that my wallet was protected. I had prayed and asked the angels to watch over it when we were at the movie theater. I had very little anxiety about the whole thing. When the wallet wasn't at the store, I was disappointed. I really thought I'd be getting my wallet back.

I came home and plopped on the couch. The BFF had brought me a pumpkin pie. It was time to watch The Walking Dead. I apologized that I was going to have to take the next half hour to call in and cancel all my credit cards before we watched our shows. I went to the website of my Capital One Visa and started the process but something stopped me. Well, two things stopped me: I didn't want to wait another minute before watching my shows on DVR and something told me I was going to get my wallet back. I had a feeling it would be a waste of time to cancel all my cards.

Flash back to earlier in the day. I was lying in bed thinking about how blessed I am. One of my assignments at university is coming to an end this year. That's a cutback in my income but a welcome relief from a major sacrifice of my time. It's very hard for me to do two gigs in one day. Teaching takes so much out of me. Giving up this assignment was a huge burden lifted from my schedule, but I did worry a bit about losing out on that money. It just so happens that this spring I was offered to teach a fourth class at the community college which will DOUBLY make up for giving up that other assignment. I was lying in my cozy bed thinking how well God cares for me. The assignment went away but a teaching gig showed up. Why do I worry?
Of course Matthew 6 came to mind...

 28“And why do you worry about clothes? 
See how the flowers of the field grow. 
They do not labor or spin. 
29Yet I tell you that not even 
Solomon in all his splendor was 
dressed like one of these. 
30If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, 
which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, 
will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 
31So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ 
or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 
32For the unbelievers run after all these things, 
and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 
33But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, 
and all these things will be given to you as well. 
34Therefore do not worry about tomorrow,
 for tomorrow will worry about itself. 
Each day has enough trouble of its own.

I thought about my own faith in divine providence. I thought about God trying to tell me that I would never have to worry about being provided for and that getting that fourth class was proof that if I moved forward in faith and took care of myself, that I'd be taken care of. Giving up that assignment was good for my health. That was the right thing to do for me, but of course I felt guilty about it. I was convinced that if I wasn't toiling and spinning at something I didn't deserve to be taken care of. If I wasn't pushing myself to the point of exhaustion, then how dare I expect an income!

In rest you will find your prosperity, Lisa. - Ilona Hress

Yet, God proved me wrong by providing that fourth class and a wonderfully manageable schedule. Ilona was right. By making my own rest and recovery the priority, things were getting better in my life in general. I look better
I feel better.
Things are ok.

When I discovered the wallet to be missing in the theater parking lot I just knew everything would be ok. I prayed that if I was meant to get it back I should get it back and that if I am meant to detach from it, that I release with peace.

Release with peace.
Good rhyme lol

In my living room now, as I reached for the remote control to start the DVR I saw a familiar bottle on the table. My eyes widened. Dude! I exclaimed at the BFF, where did this come from?? It was precious oil blend of mine that had been missing since early June. This particular oil has deep sentimental value to me. My ladyfriends, Dianne and Miriam, and I had made it from Young Living oils years ago when I had wanted to order Young Living's Chivalry blend and found it was discontinued. We obtained the list of ingredients in Chivalry and set about making it ourselves.

We sat at their kitchen table in their old house in Passaic Park, (they have since moved to upstate NY). We sat there like we were in a Potions class at Hogwart's mixing our elixir. We looked up Bible verses and chose one for the label. We named the oil "Warrior' blend after the martial artists for whom it was made. Many a Taekwondo competitor have benefited from the strength and healing of this powerful oil blend. Anyone who used it back in the day (2011 - 2012) is immediately transported back in time when they get a whiff of it, a happy oil for a more hopeful and happier time. The bottle I was missing was actually the third iteration of this important oil. We had made 2 blends previously. When I couldn't find Warrior III back in June, coincide-ally after the friend-ending with the very warrior for whom the oil was made, I assumed the oil to be missing forever. If the warrior was gone for good then his oil was gone for good. It seemed right. Although I prayed for for the oil to be found when Queen Mentor's husband had a stroke, it didn't show up. I deemed it as a sign that I had to give up on certain things and people. I never thought I'd see it or smell it ever again.

Yet, there it was on my coffee table. Heather, in her concerned effort to find my wallet, had reached down into the seat cushions of my sofa. The wallet wasn't there but Warrior III was. She left it for me on my coffee table as casually as if she had found a dime in the seat cushions. She had no idea the treasure she had found.

I thought about it. If an angel had come down from heaven and asked me to hand over my wallet in exchange for finding Warrior III I would have handed over my wallet, driver's license and all. That's how much that blend means to me. I figured it was a fair cop. The universe brought my Warrior III back and took my wallet as payment. I was at peace with it.

After watching our Walking Dead, Talking Dead, and the DVRed episode of Conan with the cast of Sons of Anarchy, the BFF went home and I should have gone to bed. A voice in my head said I was getting my wallet back and needed to do nothing. Another voice in my head told me I was being lazy by not staying up and canceling all my credit cards. That voice of doubt is the voice of my mother, my self-sabotage, the devil. Why did I listen to it? Why was it easier to listen to the negative voice over the positive one?

I stayed up till 5:00am canceling credit cards and getting my paperwork ready to get a replacement driver's license. I truly thought that since the wallet wasn't at the Stop and Shop, wasn't in my apartment, and wasn't in my car, then it was truly lost. Oh, me of little faith.

At 9:00am this morning, after a nearly sleepless night, my phone rang. A young man named James with a heavy Korean accent asked for me and told me he had found my wallet in the bus stop by the Stop and Shop. He was working at the liquor store today and his boss had my wallet at the front register.

I washed my face, put on my glasses, and drove down the few blocks to the liquor store wearing my pajamas and a winter coat. They had my wallet, soaking wet from a night out in the rain, but completely intact except for the cash. I apologized to the clerk that I couldn't give him a reward because all my cash was gone. In a flurry of broken English and gratitude I expressed my appreciation and left.

Warrior III and my wallet are home safely where they belong. 

I could have saved myself some trouble by listening to my intuition and not canceling all my cards, but at least it will keep me from charging anything for a week! 

From this episode I learned that what is meant to be mine will be mine. When something is lost, God provides. When something appears to be missing, God already has a plan to fill that void. Living in faith means living in the belief that nothing can really be taken away. One person leaves and three new people show up to ease the loss. There are things that belong with you and things that need to be gone so something more appropriate can appear. Let go and let God, as they say.

We can make a conscious choice to see challenges as opportunities. We can see loss as only a temporary situation of doing without. There is no such thing as losing something, it's always just a rearrangement of energy.

Trust in the Lord is never misplaced.

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Sunday, November 23, 2014

steps for self care amended

I'll amend #5 to say
Never speak bad about yourself or others, and by "bad" I mean gossipy, judgmentally, unthoughtfully, untruly...don't bear false witness.Don't be on the giving or the receiving end of a smear campaign. It might feel good to be one of the "good guys" while listening to the supposed crimes of others. It might feel good to feel like an "insider" while the "bad guy" is out in the cold, devalued and snubbed, but it's not a caring act for self or other. Resist the allure of character-assassinating the enemy.

I'll amend #11 to say Don't CAUSE drama and negativity either. Sometimes we get too caught up in a wave of self-righteousness. We become intoxicated with superiority by pointing out the flaws of others. Pointing a finger at a drama-causer might be satisfying to our ego but it overlooks our own participation in co-creating the drama. Own your participation in the drama show.

It takes two to tango and three to line dance, ya know?

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Saturday, November 22, 2014

contribute fat spiritual memes

I'd like to see more size diversity in...well, in representative images everywhere, but what I had in mind for now are art and photos of yoga, meditation, Qi Gong, and anime. I don't mean that I want fat folks to be visible in a comical way or even in an activist way, but  in an every day way. Size diversity is like that. Casual.

All the pretty memes on Facebook about spiritual this and meditate that show thin people. Thin people are the "norm." Unless it's a specific person, Amma for instance, who happens to be larger than a size Medium, we only see slender people looking blissful. Where are the fat people walking on beaches at sunset? Where are the fat folks sitting in meadows in lotus position? Why do I have to Google "fat yoga" to see a person of size doing sun salutation?

Not that I want to derail my observation but spirituality seems to be a white-person world as well. Where are the brown-skinned folks doing Namaste-spiritual things in the spiritual mini-posters and memes? Unless they're being showcased as exotics they're invisible.

People with my body type are not minorities. We're not exceptions. Sit at the mall and people watch. People come in all shapes and sizes, ages too, colors too.

I had to look hard for a picture of a large sized female meditating. That shouldn't be.

Here's a newsflash.
We're everywhere.
People with fat on their bodies are doing all kinds of cool stuff.
We meditate.
We do yoga.
We practice Qi Gong.
We hike.
We walk on beaches.
We jump out of planes.
We parasail.
Hell, we even walk on beaches and hold hands with other people, including people who don't match our body type! Imagine that.

People with fat bodies dance, climb, walk, skip, run, fight, twirl, pray, splash around, parade about, walk in heels, walk barefoot holding our cute sandals, pose, and preen.
We're not "before" pictures. We're people.
We're not always comical. We can be serious and romantic and cool.
We're not always making a fat acceptance statement if we appear in pictures.
We're just living life in this world like everyone else. 

Note to self: make one of your projects an effort to show size diversity in spiritual memes. Take pictures of fat people doing cool stuff. Pose for them yourself, Lisa. Add mind expanding quotes, poetry, scriptures, etc.

That's always been one of my solutions to problems.
See something that's missing? Contribute it!!

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