Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Lessons from Lily

I am trying to meditate on the lessons Lily taught me. She wove her wisdom into my being.

Greet the day preferably outside under the sky,

Walk downtown, greet everyone

Walk to the pond and up on the hill for a view

Keep wagging and walking

Go out for a good sniff a few times a day

Stretch often

Use body language to communicate

Run in your sleep

Exhale audibly

Enjoy the moment.

Dance and wiggle and run around when your friends show up!

Swim in the pond

Lay down in mud puddles.

Ask for a cookie after a nail clip or bath

Follow your nose.

Dry your ears

Rarely bark

Be fearless and LOVE going to the vet

Be still around the mean ones.

Stand your ground if you have to

Be kind, but not meek

Love everyone

Cathy Nicoli Dancer, Writer, Teacher Extroidinaire!

I think one of the best things about riding a bike is that it allows me to observe multiple events in succession, moments not necessarily connected in any other way but the order of my gaze. In the car, I feel much more separated from the daily life of others and I hate the way it keeps me still for so long. I love walking too but it is too slow to have moments of juxtaposition connected in succession - the time is more realistic than surrealistic. I especially like biking through parks where a diversity of cultures, ages, and activities are happening. Today, the reach of a toddler seemed to be orchestrated with a series of teenage girls posing in nature for what I assume is the ceremony of senior pictures. A pile of shit on the path that I had to ride around seemed poetically connected to having to skirt a couple so entrenched in their argument that they didn't even notice they were blocking the path. And this tree and resting crow in silhouette seemed to ring with the image I saw just a minute earlier of the grandmother on the park bench observing me observing her as I ride by. Biking is a meditation in how images bounce off of one another and make meaning. Biking is poetry just as much as it is a form of transportation and exercise. This is one reason I love to hop on my bike and go!

-Cathy Nicoli, Associate Professor of Dance and Performance Studies at Roger Williams University

Day Four: After Lily

I'm spinning like a top. I have no appetite. I need to re-read Gail Caldwell and Carolyn Knapp my favorite dog-loving writers. I have been crying and playing with Sammy aka Mr. Kitty. He is sitting next to me. Mr Kitty is also my name for one of the local characters. I like to write about what embarrasses me.
verb: embarrass; 3rd person present: embarrasses; past tense: embarrassed; past participle: embarrassed; gerund or present participle: embarrassing

cause (someone) to feel awkward, self-conscious, or ashamed.
"she wouldn't embarrass either of them by making a scene"
synonyms: mortify, shame, put someone to shame, humiliate, abash, chagrin, make uncomfortable, make self-conscious; More
discomfit, disconcert, discompose, upset, distress;
show up, discombobulate
"his parents would show up drunk and embarrass him"
be caused financial difficulties.
"he would be embarrassed by an inheritance tax"
hamper or impede (a person, movement, or action).
"the state of the rivers will embarrass the enemy in a considerable degree"
make difficult or intricate; complicate.

early 17th century (in the sense ‘hamper, impede’): from French embarrasser, from Spanish embarazar, probably from Portuguese embaraçar (from baraço ‘halter’).

I am introverted, I process in solitude. I am fragile as glass. I get nourishment from words, poetry, and being outdoors in motion walking or bicycling, or swimming. I love solitude. Lily was my companion is solitude. My cat has taken to sharing this with me. He is inches from me now on my desk. Sitting on my calendar. I love people. Somehow walking made me extroverted defined by the activity. Life on a leash. The linear park. I never desired a dog park. The world was my park. We need not run free we just need to run or walk or swim. Freedom is between the ears or in the heart.
Stand outside in daylight to align your circadian rhythm. Lily was the daily reason. I am going to continue this habit. Now I understand why people go to diners. So they will eat. I love to cook but somehow I can't eat alone right now. But I have "Gink" the cat to protect me from the abyss of a solitude without a pet. I feel lucky. I have books. I have furniture curtains and plants providing silent partnership if I am quiet enough to feel them.

I slept well and dreamed a lot. Skin crawling from pollen. Noisy dreams that I can't remember details or plots but Lily was there. Dreaming of Lily on day 4.

The humidity is smelly.

What did Lily teach me? Go out and sniff have a routine, love life, greet everyone with a wag and kindness. Be under the sky every day at least for a few hours and maybe even 4 miles if you get into the flow which we did nearly every day. She made me a writer by taking me for a walk after a morning of writing.

She was my spiritual advisor and my transportation a way to move through space. She was trained before I got her and most days I let her decide where we were going. Sometimes we struggled if she wanted to keep to the same walk and I wanted to turn onto a new street. She usually knew best. I'm sure dog trainers would not approve but she was my canine guru not my child.

Now I have my bicycle, my legs, and maybe I will run through space. I do not like cars at all. In my mind they are hostile, equal to military tanks. Also, I space out easily. I need a Flinstone mobile where my body is propelling me. That's why I love my old three speed bike. It's friendly, not zoomy. And never complicated. I have an old wicker basket. Maybe I need a bell. I have my own voice for a bell. I can stop on a dime and have a chat. It's like traveling by a low flying helicopter and much quieter. My dragonfly, bumble bee, horse. My grandma Sophie rode the same bicycle on the boardwalk. She loved it. Hers was blue, mine is black.

Maybe I need to let people love me without my dog. And let myself love people empty handed. Maybe that is the lesson now. Will I be swallowed up and lose my center. Not if I keep my centering habits: writing in a journal reading, waking early, swimming baking cooking feeding telling stories, listening to stories, going to the library every few days. Doing my art writing music baking, loving.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Good Therapy: Articles by Darren Haber





Darren Haber, MFT, PsyD, is a psychotherapist specializing in treating alcoholism and drug addiction as well as co-occurring issues such as anxiety, depression, relationship concerns, secondary addictions (especially sex addiction), and trauma (both single-incident and repetitive). He works in a variety of modalities, primarily cognitive behavioral, spiritual/recovery-based, and psychodynamic. He is certified in eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) therapy, and continues to receive psychodynamic training in treating relational trauma, including emotional abuse/neglect and physical and sexual abuse.

Laura Ingalls Wilder: On Wisdom and Virtues

“Laura felt a warmth inside her. It was very small, but it was strong. It was steady, like a tiny light in the dark, and it burned very low but no winds could make it flicker because it would not give up.”
― Laura Ingalls Wilder, The Long Winter

“Our hearts grow tender with childhood memories and love of kindred, and we are better throughout the year for having, in spirit, become a child again at Christmastime.”
― Laura Ingalls Wilder

“Home is the nicest word there is.”
― Laura Ingalls Wilder

“There's no great loss without some small gain.”
― Laura Ingalls Wilder, Little House on the Prairie

“As the years pass, I am coming more and more to understand that it is the common, everyday blessings of our common everyday lives for which we should be particularly grateful. They are the things that fill our lives with comfort and our hearts with gladness -- just the pure air to breathe and the strength to breath it; just warmth and shelter and home folks; just plain food that gives us strength; the bright sunshine on a cold day; and a cool breeze when the day is warm.”
― Laura Ingalls Wilder, Writings to Young Women from Laura Ingalls Wilder: On Wisdom and Virtues

Laura Ingalls Wilder

“The real things haven't changed. It is still best to be honest and truthful; to make the most of what we have; to be happy with simple pleasures; and have courage when things go wrong.”

― Laura Ingalls Wilder

Comfortable with Not Knowing

Why should we ask why?

Kwan Um School of Zen
Published on Jun 24, 2016

An audience member ask Zen Master Bon Haeng


Dear Friends and Family,

Last week I wasn't able to explain because I was GRIEVING the passing of our dog LILY. Lily of the Blackstone Valley. Lily's ankle was swollen and she needed a visit to my beloved vet of nearly 40 years, Dr. Pete Belinsky. We went to Tiverton Tuesday night. The X-ray showed bone cancer tumor where we had originally thought she had merely sprained her ankle. She came back home with us along with a bottle of pain medicine. She passed away Saturday.

So I've been sitting Shiva with the community who loved her. She was the Dalai Lama of Woonsocket!

My religion is kindness.
-Dalai Lama

She loved everyone and she loved life and she was my best teacher.

I've been pedaling my bike to all of our old haunts and some people know right away, seeing me without her. I have been invited into peoples kitchens and I have accepted every invitation.

Now that I have grieved I have been helping others grieve.

She was a pillar of the community. "She's part of the City" the public works guy said to me when I was picking up glass last spring to prevent injury.

She was my cow, race horse, spiritual advisor, my LOVE medicine and dearest canine friend.

Cheers to the Jewish New Year if I don't see you this week. Enjoy.

Love to all,


You Are Already Complete

Providence Zen Center Dharma Talks

Habit Awake

Exploring the Space Between Thoughts
Providence Zen Center Dharma Talks

Mike's Spaghetti Weather Site

Part 2

Ram Dass on Discovering Your True Work Path (Part 2)

Posted May 5, 2017

Years ago I went to a silent meditation course, and I had a roommate. It was a 10 day course and we couldn’t speak to each other. We shared a room, and I was a little sloppy and his corners were all neat on his bed and his clothes were all lined up, and that’s not my particular preoccupation.

So I started to feel that he was thinking I was a real slob and he really didn’t like me, and I was probably snoring and disturbing him, and I got to feel he really hated me. Within the silence, you can play with such wonderful paranoia, you know, and I just decided – I mean, by the end of it, I hated him for hating me, you know.

We came out of the retreat, and the first thing he said to me – the first thing was, “I can’t tell you what an honor it’s been sharing this room with Ram Dass,” and I just thought, “Oh. Shit.” I wasted those ten days, hours just being absolutely convinced he hated me, filling my consciousness with it when I could have been getting enlightened you know?

So the next time I went on retreat, we had a few minutes, and I said to the guy who was going onto the upper bunk, “What do you do?” You know, I wanted to know everything quick so I wouldn’t have to spend all day worrying about him.

He said, “Vice President of industrial loans at a bank,” and I asked him what he was doing here. He told me that he had also had the same position back in the 60’s, but thought, “Geez, I don’t know, but I want to get stoned and live in commune and I want to write poetry.”

So he left his family sooner or later, and wandered around the world for years. He said, “Then I was with a beard and a sweater and I was walking down a street in San Francisco and I met the President of the bank. He said to me how fantastic it was he should meet me on the street, that I was the best they’d ever had, and would I come back? So, I just thought… why not? I bought a tie and I shaved and I went to work.”

I asked him if it was different when he went back than it had been before, and he told me, “It was entirely different. Before, I was busy being a Vice President of industrial loans, and I was meeting potential borrowers. Now I go to this place, and I hang out all day with these beings and the business we do together is industrial loans. But what it is, is beings meeting beings.”

See, his identity was no longer in his role. He fulfilled his role but he wasn’t lost in it. And that has a lot to do with how you play it in the business world – whether you can up-level it or whether you get caught in it.

I’d say it takes a lot of truth with yourself to hear the kind of work you can do, where you are in your own development, because it’s hard to acknowledge that you really want money and the things money can buy, and by making believe you don’t want them sometimes, you end up deceiving yourself and picking up something that is not your true being and you end up angry and frustrated because you picked wrong. So there is a process of being very honest with yourself about what you need at that point.

-Ram Dass

Part 1

Ram Dass on Discovering Your True Work Path (Part 1)

Posted May 3, 2017

Many, many years ago, many incarnations back when I was a professor at Harvard, I used to run a course called “Career Decision Making.” It was interesting, because the students at Harvard all had these models of doctor, lawyer, business, graduate school of business, or something like that. We’d start the course by having people fill out a questionnaire and talk about what turned them on the most. It would be interesting that somebody would say, “Well, what I really like is being out in the woods by myself for long periods of time.” Then they would think about their career and they’d think, “Well, now should I be a doctor or a lawyer?”

When I’d say, “Well, have you considered being a fire spotter in the woods? Working in the forest?” I mean, Harvard just doesn’t have much in the curriculum for that, you know.

It was interesting to start to lead with your wish list of how you would like to live, how you would like to serve, and then start to tune very, very slowly.

If you have that option, you’ve got to be ready to fall on your face and make mistakes. That’s a very important part of this game of hearing your uniqueness. Because what you listen to until your mind is really clear is always colored by all these kinds of attitudes, prejudices, cultural preferences and so on.

So you hear something and you make a choice and you start to moving in a direction and then you feel a moment later, “Uh oh.” So what becomes interesting in consciousness is the lag between the moment you realize you’ve done it again to yourself, and the moment you correct it. The inertia is your stubbornness of ego-will or something.

Remember Gandhi leading the march of all these people and he said at one point he was going to stop the march because he anticipated violence. His lieutenant said, “You can’t do this, Mahatmaji. There are people here that have given up their jobs, left their homes, to follow you….” and he said, “Only God knows the truth. I know only relative truth. My understanding of truth, the truth I understand shifts from day to day, and my commitment must be to truth, not consistency.”

And a lot of people are very afraid in career planning because of the term “career” even, to deal with the inconsistency of growth and the chaotic look that you may have if you keep changing your game. Many people that start to be a teacher, and then they don’t want to be a teacher, or they start being a doctor and then they don’t want to be a doctor – they grow through these things. I find the culture is more and more accepting of that kind of fluidity.

What you begin to hear are your unique needs, not only economically in terms of style of life you need, but also in terms of what kind of people you want to be around, what kind of qualities you want to develop in yourself.

-Ram Dass

Shankman's Link: Contraceptives and Cancer

Today is the birthday of Canadian-born American pathologist Elizabeth Stern Shankman, born in Cobalt, Canada (1915). Shankman was one of the first scientists specializing in cytopathology, which is the study of diseased cells. Her research made it possible to detect cervical cancer before it reached an advanced stage, a breakthrough in women's health that enabled early cancer detection and treatment. Before Stern's discoveries, cervical cancer was nearly always fatal.

In 1963, Shankman published the first case report linking a specific virus, in this case, herpes simplex, to a specific cancer, like cervical cancer. Shankman showed that a normal cell advances through 250 distinct stages before reaching an advanced cancerous stage. This allowed the development of diagnostic techniques and excision of abnormal tissue, which reduced the fatality rate drastically.

In 1973, Elizabeth Stern Shankman was the first to identify a direct link between prolonged use of oral contraceptives and cervical cancer. Her research was also deeply concerned with the health care of lower-income women, predominantly black and Hispanic, who typically could not afford proper care and often did not want to be examined by male doctors. She worked with Los Angeles County family planning clinics to pilot studies in which women were offered free transportation, baby-sitting, and trained health care workers to encourage women to attend the clinics for health screenings. Shankman knew that the highest rates of cervical cancer occurred in the poorest areas of Los Angeles.

Elizabeth Stern Shankman died of stomach cancer in 1980. Before she died, she spent months assembling her research, studies, ideas, and statistics so that scientists following in her stead could use her material to save more lives.
Writer's Almanac


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Paddywhack (also spelt paddywack) or nuchal ligament (Latin: ligamentum nuchae), is a strong elastic ligament in the midline of the neck of sheep or cattle which relieves the animal of the weight of its head. It is pale yellow in colour. (The yellow colour is the elastin on the ligaments.) The name is derived from the corruption of paxwax (originally faxwax Old English hair + to grow).

The nuchal ligament is unusual in being a ligament with an elastic component, allowing for stretch. Most ligaments are mostly made of highly aligned collagen fibres which do not permit stretching.

Structurally, the nuchal ligament is formed with the association of both elastin proteins as well as type III collagen (45%). The collagen fibrils share a consistent size as well as helical pattern which gives the ligament its tensile strength. The elastin on the other hand is a protein that allows for flexibility. These two elements of the nuchal ligament maintain a complex balance which allows the constant weight bearing of the head along with multidirectional movement without damaging the durability of the ligament through over-use/stretching. [1]

It is eaten in several countries. It is high in protein (78%) and also contains fat (10%), crude fibre (0.7%), and crude ash (1%). The meat is taken from domestic cattle, the bison, African buffalo, the water buffalo, the yak, and the four-horned and spiral-horned antelopes.[citation needed]

Dried paddywhack is commonly packaged and sold as a dog treat.
In popular culture

It is referred to in the children's nursery rhyme This Old Man, in reference to the fact that the old man is playing the bones; sheep bones.[citation needed]

Knick, Knack, Paddy Whack

Knick, Knack, Paddy Whack
(This Old Man)

This old man , he played one, (1)

He played knick knack on his thumb,

With a knick, knack, paddy whack,

Give the dog a bone;

This old man came rolling home.

This old man , he played two, (2)

He played knick knack on his shoe,

With a knick, knack, paddy whack,

Give the dog a bone;

This old man came rolling home.

This old man , he played three, (3)

He played knick knack on his knee,

With a knick, knack, paddy whack,

Give the dog a bone;

This old man came rolling home.


This old man , he played four, (4)

He played knick knack on his door,

With a knick, knack, paddy whack,

Give the dog a bone;

This old man came rolling home.

This old man , he played five, (5)

He played knick knack on his hive,

With a knick, knack, paddy whack,

Give the dog a bone;

This old man came rolling home.

This old man , he played six, (6)

He played knick knack on his sticks,

With a knick, knack, paddy whack,

Give the dog a bone;

This old man came rolling home.

This old man , he played seven, (7)

He played knick knack with his pen,

With a knick, knack, paddy whack,

Give the dog a bone;

This old man came rolling home.

This old man , he played eight, (8)

He played knick knack on his gate,

With a knick, knack, paddy whack,

Give the dog a bone;

This old man came rolling home.

This old man , he played nine, (9)

He played knick knack, rise and shine,

With a knick, knack, paddy whack,

Give the dog a bone;

This old man came rolling home.

This old man , he played ten, (10)

He played knick knack on his hen,

With a knick, knack, paddy whack,

Give the dog a bone;

This old man came rolling home.

This old man , he played eleven, (11)

He played knick knack up in heaven,

With a knick, knack, paddy whack,

Give the dog a bone;

This old man came rolling home.

This old man , he played twelve, (12)

He played knick knack, dig and delve,

With a knick, knack, paddy whack,

Give the dog a bone;

This old man came rolling home.

This Old Man by Roger Angell

Editorial Reviews

“[Angell’s] prose is bright and conversational and almost infinitely elastic.... Like V. S. Pritchett, his own “bottomless reading” seems never to have dulled “the eagerness of his mind,” or the bounce and velocity of his prose, which, like Updike’s, possesses a gravity-defying “lift and lightness and intelligence.” Perhaps most of all, Mr. Angell — like Updike and White — is a “prime noticer”: a sharp-eyed collector of details, gathered over the course of nearly 10 decades, and dispensed here, with artistry and élan, in these jottings from a long and writerly life."
—Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times

"[I]rresistible.... Angell is neither an aphoristic nor overtly flashy writer. His virtues are those of close observation and considered reflection, careful accretion of detail and argument, and a prose style whose ambling grace belies its lean economy."
—San Francisco Chronicle

“There is a certain generosity operating here, an assumption of friendship between reader and writer, the way one is pleased to hear what a friend has to say no matter what the occasion. In inviting us to rummage through his literary files, Angell proves almost consistently engaging and companionable.... [W]e are grateful for his perspective on the kingdom of old age and hope only to be as wise and realistic when we get there.”
—Phillip Lopate, Times Book Review

“Angell’s a true craftsman, carefully picking each word and phrase and, like any good editor, cutting out the fluff.... What stitches together the collection is a sense of gratitude.... It feels like he assembled this collection in great part to say thank you. But it’s his readers who should be saying it. For as long as we have him and as long as he’s still contributing to The Sporting Scene and other fixtures of The New Yorker, we should appreciate his talent.”
—Associated Press

“[A] wonderfully scattershot collection of letters, essays, and (yes!) blog posts. But what seem to be odds and ends, literary leftovers, are revealed to be mortar of a writing life.... They are essential. I want to talk to him about baseball, and writing, and what he was doing at my age, and how he made it from there to here. I want to hear the things he's said a thousand times.”

“[L]ucid, humane, and insightful.... Perhaps most surprising is the suppleness and range of his writing.... [Angell] moves with agility between humor, pathos, and playful metaphor, often within the same essay.”
—Christian Science Monitor

“[Angell’s] reflections and commentary brim with steadfast wisdom and are possibly more nuanced than ever. [T]his is a uniformly engaging and eloquent selection that attests to a full life well lived.”
—Chicago Tribune

“This Old Man is as profound a meditation on time and loss as some of the work of Angell's revered stepfather, E.B. White.... As Angell tells it straight, it's not much of a pleasure to be very old, but it is a great pleasure to spend time in the company of This Old Man.”
—Fresh Air's Maureen Corrigan

“Sublime… a charming addition to an estimable—and time-tested—career. This Old Man is a winning collection of miscellany from his later years at The New Yorker, which hired him in 1956 and continues to publish his work.”
—Daily Beast

“If you're blessed with a nonagenarian father, grandfather or uncle who's still got all his marbles, has lived among the best in the worlds of sports, literature and art, and has a knack for anecdotal storytelling, light verse, illustration and brief eulogies, consider yourself very, very lucky. If you aren't, long time New Yorker writer and author of countless articles and a dozen books (The Summer Game,A Pitcher's Story) Roger Angell is a perfect stand-in.”
—Shelf Awareness

“Angell modestly describes the book as 'A mélange, a grab bag, a plate of hors d’oeuvres, a teenager’s closet, a bit of everything'.... But readers are likely to zip through the book, front to back. Angell writes in a clear, precise style that never loses its conversational tone or its ability to entertain. With prose this good, you’re unlikely to find yourself skipping pages.”
—Richmond Times

"Whether you are interested in sports in particular, human events in general or anything else, Angell will hold you to his subject like a limpet."
—The Virginian Pilot

“[W]onderful.... [G]emlike.... The most trivial stuff in it is still delightful. And the great stuff in it – the title piece for instance – is classic."
—Buffalo News

"[R]emarkable. . . . Any reader will benefit from meandering the fascinating corridors of this old man’s mind."
—Lincoln Journal Star

"[A] 'choose-your-own-adventure' book for adults. And what an adventure it is."
—Fredericksburg Free-Lance Star

“A miscellany of memorable prose....notable for its grace, wit, and humanity.... As this ebullient and eloquent collection amply shows, Angell can deftly touch that reader, on whom he bestows this lovely gift."
—Kirkus (Starred Review)

“[E]very entry, long or short, light or serious, is united by seemingly effortless, finely wrought, remarkably observant, offhandedly eloquent yet always self-effacing prose.... [H]is tone is never, e­ver maudlin, never sentimental, and never, ever inspirational. Instead, it is above all wry.”
—Booklist (Starred Review)

“At 94, Angell is a witness to history but hardly a relic of the past.... Angell is equally at ease writing annual Christmas poems, witty internal memos, letters, haiku, speeches, literary essays, and "casuals".... Angell represents the best sort of writing about the remembrances of the past."
—Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)
Read less
About the Author

Roger Angell is a senior fiction editor and a longtime contributor with The New Yorker. His writings for the magazine include reporting, commentary, fiction, humor, film and book reviews, and, for many years, the magazine’s Christmas verse, “Greetings, Friends!” His ten books include such baseball writings as The Summer Game, Five Seasons, and Game Time, and, most recently, a memoir, Let Me Finish. His awards include a George Polk Award for Commentary; the Michael Braude Award for Light Verse, presented by the American Academy of Arts and Letters; a PEN/ESPN Lifetime Achievement Award for Literary Sports Writing; and the J. G. Taylor Spink Award, the highest honor given to writers by the Baseball Hall of Fame. His New Yorker piece “This Old Man” won the 2015 prize for Essays and Criticism awarded by the American Society of Magazine Editors. He is a
member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Mr. Angell lives in New York and Maine.

Roger Angell

Writer's Almanac:

Today is the birthday of essayist Roger Angell (books by this author), born in New York in 1920. His mother was The New Yorker's first fiction editor, and his father was an attorney and leader of the ACLU. (His stepfather was E.B. White, author of Charlotte's Web.)

He's most well known for writing essays about baseball, and he's the only writer who was elected to both the Baseball Hall of Fame and the American Academy of Arts and Letters. In 1975, he wrote in an essay called "Agincourt and After": "It is foolish and childish, on the face of it, to affiliate ourselves with anything so insignificant and patently contrived and commercially exploitative as a professional sports team, and the amused superiority and icy scorn that the non-fan directs at the sports nut […] is understandable and almost unanswerable. Almost. What is left out of this calculation, it seems to me, is the business of caring — caring deeply and passionately, really caring — which is a capacity or an emotion that has almost gone out of our lives. […] It no longer matters so much what the caring is about, how frail or foolish is the object of that concern, as long as the feeling itself can be saved. Naïveté — the infantile and ignoble joy that sends a grown man or woman to dancing and shouting with joy in the middle of the night over the haphazardous flight of a distant ball — seems a small price to pay for such a gift."

Angell roots for the Mets, and doesn't get too discouraged when they lose. He thinks that rooting for a team that wins all the time is overrated, because you take it for granted and there's less drama in watching the game. He said, "Almost winning is almost the best. But you've got to win once in a while."

Angell wrote an essay about getting older in 2014 called "This Old Man," which he included in a book of essays of the same title. He writes about his own experience of changing physically and losing friends, and how society treats elderly people as if they're irrelevant. He describes a conversation where "There's a pause, and I chime in with a couple of sentences. The others look at me politely, then resume the talk exactly at the point where they've just left it. What? Hello? Didn't I just say something? Have I left the room? […] When I mention the phenomenon to anyone around my age, I get back nods and smiles. Yes, we're invisible. Honored, respected, even loved, but not quite worth listening to anymore. You've had your turn, Pops; now it's ours."

His wife, Carol, passed away shortly before he wrote the essay. She had told him, "If you haven't found someone else by a year after I'm gone, I'll come back and haunt you." Angell writes about how we look down on older people when they start dating again, as if we expect them to settle into the background of life and certainly not try anything new that's romantic or sexual. He writes: "But to hell with them and with all that, O.K.? Here's to you, old dears. You got this right, every one of you. Hook, line, and sinker; never mind the why or wherefore; somewhere in the night; love me forever, or at least until next week."

Practicing Hospitality in a Group


Words Matter: Using Respectful Language

Article by Jane Mountain, MD

Battery in my Heart

Love from friends is like a battery in my heart. I am thankful for the love and understanding. I didn't think I had friends without Lily. Maybe that is what Lily my teacher taught me. That I am worthy of love and I have love to give everyone just like her. It's been amazing few days riding my bicycle around and stopping to greet people. This time my bicycle is my dog, my horse.

I think the teachings I love to read are not unlike things friends have talked about with me from their training. This is my interest. I love INTERFAITH commonalities and varieties. I love to see all of the spiritual traditions because I think they all point to love.

I hope my statement is not offensive to people. I respect and try my best to honor the spiritual beliefs of others. My curiosity and thirst for knowledge of all cultural traditions is huge. I've never had any formal training.

Jane Mountain, MD

When you first wake up in the morning, look at the sky (not the sun) for about five minutes.

Ask The Doctor: The Link Between Insomnia & Emotional Stability
How mood and sleep affect each other when you have bipolar disorder.

By Jane Mountain, MD

Is it true sleep plays a major role in bipolar disorder?

Sleep is an essential clue to what is going on with bipolar disorder, and mood and sleep affect each other. Poor sleep can intensify difficulties with mood, and mood can affect our ability to sleep. In mania or hypomania, sleep is decreased and energy is increased. In depression, sleep may be increased or decreased, and energy is lacking. Practicing good sleep hygiene has a huge impact in managing bipolar disorder.

What can I do to help regulate my sleep?

Because daily routines help regulate sleep cycles, it’s essential to get into a sleep routine that stays the same every day of the week—yes, even on weekends! I find that most people really balk at this suggestion, but those who work toward this goal find new levels of wellness. Scheduling your sleep and wake times is crucial for regulating mood.

So if you have to get up at 7:00 a.m. most days of the week, it’s important to get up at 7:00 a.m. every day. The common pattern of sleeping in late (or all day) on weekends can throw a monkey wrench into your wellness plan. Committing to dealing with sleep is a difficult and challenging choice to make—it will probably affect your social life, because it means late nights won’t work so well—but it also pays off in spades.

At what point should I talk to my doctor?

Talk with your doctor if your sleep pattern changes. This is an important discussion because poor sleep is both a sign and a trigger of mood instability. If your sleep is poor for three nights in a row, it’s time to give your doctor a call. Don’t wait until your next appointment if it’s more than a week away. Early intervention with sleep difficulties can prevent an episode of depression or mania/hypomania.

Improving your sleep pattern is a long-term project, so be patient and persistent with yourself as you learn to manage your sleep by working with your doctor to improve your sleep hygiene.

* * * * *

Tips on falling—and staying—asleep

Avoid exercising vigorously, watching stimulating TV shows, or playing intense games before bedtime.
Plan a period of quiet time to wind down before and after you go to bed—for some, half an hour works; for others, more time is needed. Discover what helps you relax before you can fall asleep. Deep breathing, peaceful meditation, reading, quiet conversation, or a warm bath can be helpful.
Once you go to bed, stay there. For insomnia that is not related to bipolar disorder, sleep hygienists suggest getting up and going into another room to read or engage in a quiet activity until you feel sleepy, but with bipolar disorder, this will keep your mind activated and make it even more difficult to sleep. Lying still with your eyes closed is extremely difficult if you have mania or hypomania, but sleep—or at the very least, physical rest—is critically important to mental wellness.
When you first wake up in the morning, look at the sky (not the sun) for about five minutes. This will help set your internal clock. If the sun isn’t up at your wake time, consider getting a blue spectrum light therapy box and ask your doctor how to use it. If dawn’s early light wakes you up earlier than your scheduled time, use shades to keep your room dark until it’s time to get up.

Preparing your body for sleep

Try relaxing your muscles beginning at your head and moving slowly to your toes. If you have trouble doing this, first tighten a muscle group—try making a fist—and then relax it. As you relax your muscles, think about your body becoming heavy and sinking into the bed.

* * * * *

Printed as “Ask the Doctor: Trouble Sleeping & My Emotional Stability”, Summer 2012
Tagged with: ask the doctor, Bipolar, emotional stability, emotions, insomnia, jane mountain, sleep, summer 2012, tired
About the author: Jane Mountain MD
Has 8 Articles
Jane Mountain MD Jane Mountain, MD, says, “You get two of me— a person who has learned to live successfully with bipolar disorder and a doctor who understands it medically.” Check out Dr. Jane as speaker, coach, and author of two books at

It Lasts

“When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.”
― Margery Williams Bianco, The Velveteen Rabbit

“When you are Real you don't mind being hurt.”
― Margery Williams Bianco, The Velveteen Rabbit

“Once you are real you can't become unreal again. It lasts for always.”
― Margery Williams Bianco, The Velveteen Rabbit

Understanding Love, Serve, Remember

How to Understand “Love, Serve, Remember”

Ram Dass

I’ve sat next to a very exquisite nun in Tibetan Buddhism, who spends months doing prostration. 100,000 Prostrations down and out, back and up, down and out – with mantra and prayer – the technique of surrender, an offering, a surrender, and an offering.

I would love to have a method like that, but Maharajji won’t let me have any. He says “Serve everyone.” Well how do you serve everyone? I don’t know how to serve everyone. You gotta listen to hear how you’re supposed to serve everyone. Serve just anyone?

It turns out you serve that in each of us which we are, because you’ve got to keep remembering God. See, it’s ‘love everyone, serve everyone, and remember God,’ and as long as you keep remembering God, when you look at another person, who do you think you’re seeing? Right… here we are.

When you look at another person, what do you see? Body? That’s desire. What do you see? Personality? … That’s attachment.

Beyond body, beyond personality, way back in here, way back behind all the things you think you are, here we are. That’s the being you serve.

Now there is an attempt to relieve human suffering. The work is to relieve human suffering. That’s what serving people does. You serve to end this suffering, and you understand, as your compassion grows, that people suffer for different reasons. A person who is not at all awakened, a person who has never been outside of the realm of reality, which they came into by taking the birth in the first place, they suffer when they’re not experiencing pleasure. So when you meet somebody that is suffering in that way, you help them relieve their suffering.

Like if somebody is hungry, you feed them. That’s what serving is. But say you meet a yogi that’s doing a nine day fast, and it’s the fifth day, and he says, “I’m hungry,” you say “Good.” You say, “Well, I’ll fast with you.” That’s service. Not feeding turns out to be service. You bring them a huge meal, that is hardly service. There is no specific form.

The form is a function of the nature of the being you’re serving, and the nature of your own being.

I think that my sadhana of ‘love, serve, and remember God’ can be understood in an interesting way.

In Southern Buddhism, there are three major aspects of practice. They’re called chela, samadhi, and punyam. Chela means purification, samadhi means concentration, and punyam means wisdom. As you read the literature and begin to work on it yourself, you begin to see that it takes a little bit of punyam – a little bit of wisdom to figure out if there’s anything at all to do about anything. If there’s any enlightenment, if there’s any awakening, or if there’s any illusion, it leads you to take a look at where you’re at. You become aware of your desires, your cravings, your fears, all of your thoughts. You become aware that you don’t have your scene around you straight. You don’t have your launch pad cool enough, your relationships to human beings aren’t straight enough. At that point that’s chela, purification. You do some of that and as you meditate a little deeper, you see more wisdom, and as your punyam gets greater, then you see you need to purify more, and so it goes and these three things keep interweaving.

I began to see that my work was purification. It was getting my theme straight, it was lightening up my attachments, getting out of living such a complicated life, simplifying my life, relating to other human beings, so that when I met another person, I found the place in them where we are, and I didn’t get caught and lost every time in the melodrama of our relationships.

-Ram Dass

Velveteen Rabbit

“Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don't matter at all, because once you are Real you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand.”
― Margery Williams Bianco, The Velveteen Rabbit

Love Letters to my City of Woonsocket

I have been writing love letters to my city. It's all about the people. I have never loved a City before, I tell people. And the love keeps growing!


When I was in publishing I was thrilled that every editors office was a mini library, a bookcase or two with a cozy chair. I felt at home! I would schedule five appointments in a day so I didn't impose on anyone to put me up. Even the friends who let me stay over, the simulation of the city kept me awake. By the end of the day I was like a spinning top!

Margery Williams Bianco

“Real isn't how you are made,' said the Skin Horse. 'It's a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.'

'Does it hurt?' asked the Rabbit.

'Sometimes,' said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. 'When you are Real you don't mind being hurt.'

'Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,' he asked, 'or bit by bit?'

'It doesn't happen all at once,' said the Skin Horse. 'You become. It takes a long time. That's why it doesn't happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don't matter at all, because once you are Real you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand.”
― Margery Williams Bianco, The Velveteen Rabbit

Booze, Bible, and Disney

"You know Eloise, it's Booze, Bible, and Disney around here. Don't you don't get it?" said Arthur.

I think Magritte, May Sarton, and Hieronimous Bosch would be well received if people had a chance, and were exposed to it, said Eloise.

If you could get them to turn off the bug zapper. Hey, suit yourself, you're the teacher, the perpetual optimist, said Arthur.

I have to be or I'd never get out of bed.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Woonsocket Children's Theatre!!!

Do you want to see your name in lights? Are you born for the stage? Then please join G.Cole Productions Introduction to Theatre class. This class is design for kids ages six years old though twelve years old with little to no theatre experience. Class will meet every Wednesday for six weeks beginning September 19th! Class is from 4:00pm-5:00pm final class is October 25th with a performance for friends and family. For information about the class please email Gladys Cole at To register call the library at 769-9044 x2.

Woonsocket Harris Public Library

Copsicle & Fuzzicle

Copsicle: Cop on bicycle.
Fuzzicle: Cop on Motorcycle.


Today I rode to all of the places I usually walk and saw all the folks I was missing the past few weeks.

I saw a baby opossum when the dumpster guy lifted the dumpster behind the restaurant on Pond Street. "Did you see that", I asked the driver.

"Yes I did," he said smiling.

"He crawled back into his apartment! The hole next to the rock. I thought it was a rat until I saw his cute pink nose and light-colored fur."

Some Native American Warriors looked to Possum as a teacher and a role model.

Sitting Shiva

Talking to Kids About Death

Ram Dass

Turning from the Ego into the Heart

You may say, “Alright, I’m gonna listen to these still, small voices within,” but the ego, which is created out of the intellect, is not about to walk away and say, “Oh, you’re absolutely right, there’s intuitive wisdom that’s higher than me, so thanks, see you around.” It’s been running the show for a long time.

So what the ego does when it sees you’ve got a new game you want to play is it says, “Sure,” and then it turns itself into this still, small voice within. It says, “I am your still, small voice within, see?” It imitates the intuitive kind of inner place so that what you find is that you listen in as carefully as you can, and then you make an act, but then a moment later you realize you’ve been had. You fall on your face, then you get up and brush yourself off.

It was Sri Aurobindo who said, “Every time you take a step you fall and you get up, and you brush yourself off. Then you look sheepishly at God, and take another step,” this just continues.

That’s what I’ve found, that the latency between where I thought I was doing something out of the deepest wisdom, and then realized I was just ego tripping, gets shorter and shorter and shorter, because I’m no longer afraid to make errors. I’m not afraid to say, “I got trapped in my own stuff again.”

I did a lecture in New York years ago, I was at the Beacon Theater and there was a fellow up in the balcony, and I started to speak but I was feeling very insecure, because backstage is a weird place to be sometimes, and you’re going out, and people have paid to hear you, you know, and you’ve got to be charming and wise, and you may, you know, have had a bad dinner, or you know, you’re not feeling quite right, so I went out and what I usually do is I go into routines at that point. So I went out and started my routine, when a guy up in the balcony screamed, “Ram Dass, my heart hurts.” Now what I can usually do is I could turn a whole audience against him, you know, and then everybody would get angry at him, but I realized that he was right, that his heart hurt, because I was speaking from a place of mind. This was only three minutes into the lecture.

I said, “Well if your heart hurts, our heart hurts. Why don’t we stop and let’s all chant for a while.”

The whole evening turned back into heart. It’s tricky to talk about the heart, because there are these different levels of heart. There’s the emotional heart that you’re familiar with, what poetry is usually about, except mystic poetry, the dramatic, romantic qualities of the heart. There’s feelings of love and hate and jealousy and sweetness, and tenderness and all of these emotional states, and then there’s this deeper heart, this intuitive heart.

It’s the place where the deeper mind, that kind of Gestalt mind and the subtler emotions all come together, and you’re connected to the universe, and that’s the quality where love exists, where the presence and love are.

-Ram Dass

Library as Community Mecca

Paul Krugman's Writing

Paul Krugman's column's are a reason to LIVE.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Give Compassion

“This is my simple religion. No need for temples. No need for complicated philosophy. Your own mind, your own heart is the temple. Your philosophy is simple kindness.”
― Dalai Lama XIV

“When we meet real tragedy in life, we can react in two ways--either by losing hope and falling into self-destructive habits, or by using the challenge to find our inner strength.”
― Dalai Lama XIV

“Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them, humanity cannot survive.”
― Dalai Lama XIV, The Art of Happiness

“Remember that the best relationship is one in which your love for each other exceeds your need for each other.”
― Dalai Lama XIV

“Know the rules well, so you can break them effectively.”
― Dalai Lama XIV

“Silence is sometimes the best answer.”
― Dalai Lama XIV

“Our prime purpose in this life is to help others. And if you can't help them, at least don't hurt them.”
― Dalai Lama XIV

“Choose to be optimistic, it feels better.”
― Dalai Lama XIV

“If a problem is fixable, if a situation is such that you can do something about it, then there is no need to worry. If it's not fixable, then there is no help in worrying. There is no benefit in worrying whatsoever.”
― Dalai Lama XIV

“Remember that sometimes not getting what you want is a wonderful stroke of luck.”
― Dalai Lama XIV

“People take different roads seeking fulfillment and happiness. Just because they’re not on your road doesn’t mean they’ve gotten lost.”
― Dalai Lama XIV

“Judge your success by what you had to give up in order to get it.”
― Dalai Lama XIV

“If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.”
― Dalai Lama XIV, The Art of Happiness

“We can never obtain peace in the outer world until we make peace with ourselves.”
― Dalai Lama XIV

“Only the development of compassion and understanding for others can bring us the tranquility and happiness we all seek.”
― Dalai Lama XIV

“World peace must develop from inner peace. Peace is not just mere absence of violence. Peace is, I think, the manifestation of human compassion.”
― Dalai Lama XIV

“Look at children. Of course they may quarrel, but generally speaking they do not harbor ill feelings as much or as long as adults do. Most adults have the advantage of education over children, but what is the use of an education if they show a big smile while hiding negative feelings deep inside? Children don't usually act in such a manner. If they feel angry with someone, they express it, and then it is finished. They can still play with that person the following day.”
― Dalai Lama XIV

“There is only one important point you must keep in your mind and let it be your guide. No matter what people call you, you are just who you are. Keep to this truth. You must ask yourself how is it you want to live your life. We live and we die, this is the truth that we can only face alone. No one can help us, not even the Buddha. So consider carefully, what prevents you from living the way you want to live your life?”
― Dalai Lama XIV

“Take into account that great love and great achievements involve great risk.”
― Dalai Lama XIV

“All suffering is caused by ignorance. People inflict pain on others in the selfish pursuit of their own happiness or satisfaction”
― Dalai Lama XIV

“A truly compassionate attitude toward others does not change even if they behave negatively or hurt you.”
― Dalai Lama XIV

“I believe compassion to be one of the few things we can practice that will bring immediate and long-term happiness to our lives. I’m not talking about the short-term gratification of pleasures like sex, drugs or gambling (though I’m not knocking them), but something that will bring true and lasting happiness. The kind that sticks.”
― Dalai Lama XIV

“If you can cultivate the right attitude, your enemies are your best spiritual teachers because their presence provides you with the opportunity to enhance and develop tolerance, patience and understanding.”
― Dalai Lama XIV

My religion is kindness

“There is a saying in Tibetan, 'Tragedy should be utilized as a source of strength.'
No matter what sort of difficulties, how painful experience is, if we lose our hope, that's our real disaster.”
― Dalai Lama XIV

“My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness.”
― Dalai Lama XIV

“Every day, think as you wake up, today I am fortunate to be alive, I have a precious human life, I am not going to waste it. I am going to use all my energies to develop myself, to expand my heart out to others; to achieve enlightenment for the benefit of all beings. I am going to have kind thoughts towards others, I am not going to get angry or think badly about others. I am going to benefit others as much as I can.”
― Dalai Lama XIV

“If you think you are too small to make a difference, try sleeping with a mosquito.”
― Dalai Lama XIV

Friday, September 15, 2017

Jon Kerstetter

Jon Kerstetter Makes Impossible Decisions in the Iraqi Desert

On the Road

“I would miss something if I drove,” Steinem says. It’s about communication. She loves talking to taxi drivers anywhere in the world, or arriving at a university for a speech and being driven by her hosts, who tell her what’s going on around campus. “That’s really crucial time,” she says. “I would not want to miss that.”

But it’s not just about recounting her own experiences; Steinem wants to encourage others - especially women - to head out, “because the road doesn’t belong to women, and it should. Women aren’t ‘supposed’ to go out on the road.” She also, incidentally, would like politicians to live up to their claims that they know the country. “They ought to be forced to go on the road for two years for every term they’re in office, because then they would stop saying ‘the American people’ as if there’s one,” she says. “Because it’s just so wildly diverse.”

There’s yet another reason for the on-the-road theme. Steinem fears that in our increasingly digital world, we may be forgetting the value of in-person communication. “Not to diminish the importance of the Web,” she says. “But it should be also obvious that people can’t empathize with each other unless we’re in the same room.”
Gloria Steinem

If you place your head in a lion's mouth

“I like living. I have sometimes been wildly, despairingly, acutely miserable, racked with sorrow; but through it all I still know quite certainly that just to be alive is a grand thing.”
― Agatha Christie

“It is a curious thought, but it is only when you see people looking ridiculous that you realize just how much you love them. ”
― Agatha Christie, An Autobiography

“Very few of us are what we seem.”
― Agatha Christie, The Man in the Mist

“The impossible could not have happened, therefore the impossible must be possible in spite of appearances.”
― Agatha Christie, Murder on the Orient Express

“Poirot," I said. "I have been thinking."
"An admirable exercise my friend. Continue it.”
― Agatha Christie, Peril at End House

“A mother's love for her child is like nothing else in the world. It knows no law, no pity. It dares all things and crushes down remorselessly all that stands in its path.

-The Last Seance (from The Hound of Death and Other Stories, also Double Sin and Other Stories)”
― Agatha Christie, The Hound of Death

“An archaeologist is the best husband a woman can have. The older she gets, the more interested he is in her.”
― Agatha Christie

“If you place your head in a lion's mouth, then you cannot complain one day if he happens to bite it off.”
― Agatha Christie

“Instinct is a marvelous thing. It can neither be explained nor ignored.”
― Agatha Christie, The Mysterious Affair at Styles

“The best time for planning a book is while you're doing the dishes.”
― Agatha Christie

“One doesn't recognize the really important moments in one's life until it's too late.”
― Agatha Christie

“You gave too much rein to your imagination. Imagination is a good servant, and a bad master. The simplest explanation is always the most likely.”
― Agatha Christie, The Mysterious Affair at Styles

“It is really a hard life. Men will not be nice to you if you are not good-looking, and women will not be nice to you if you are.”
― Agatha Christie, The Man in the Brown Suit

“Everybody said, "Follow your heart". I did, it got broken”
― Agatha Christie

“Never tell all you know—not even to the person you know best.”
― Agatha Christie, The Secret Adversary

“One of the saddest things in life, is the things one remembers.”
― Agatha Christie

“Women can accept the fact that a man is a rotter, a swindler, a drug taker, a confirmed liar, and a general swine, without batting an eyelash, and without its impairing their affection for the brute in the least. Women are wonderful realists. ”
― Agatha Christie, Murder in Mesopotamia

“The young people think the old people are fools -- but the old people know the young people are fools.”
― Agatha Christie, Murder at the Vicarage

“But surely for everything you love you have to pay some price.”
― Agatha Christie, An Autobiography

“Time is the best killer.”
― Agatha Christie

“Why shouldn't I hate her? She did the worst thing to me that anyone can do to anyone else. Let them believe that they're loved and wanted and then show them that it's all a sham.”
― Agatha Christie, The Mirror Crack'd from Side to Side

“Good advice is always certain to be ignored, but that's no reason not to give it.”
― Agatha Christie

“The truth, however ugly in itself, is always curious and beautiful to seekers after it.”
― Agatha Christie, The Murder of Roger Ackroyd

“I know there's a proverb which that says 'To err is human,' but a human error is nothing to what a computer can do if it tries.”
― Agatha Christie, Hallowe'en Party

“I don't think necessity is the mother of invention. Invention . . . arises directly from idleness, possibly also from laziness. To save oneself trouble.”
― Agatha Christie, An Autobiography

“To every problem, there is a most simple solution.”
― Agatha Christie, The Clocks

“Everything must be taken into account. If the fact will not fit the theory---let the theory go.”
― Agatha Christie, The Mysterious Affair at Styles

The Books

“It is clear that the books owned the shop rather than the other way about. Everywhere they had run wild and taken possession of their habitat, breeding and multiplying, and clearly lacking any strong hand to keep them down.”
― Agatha Christie, The Clocks

Happy Birthday Agatha Christie

Writer's Almanac:

It's the birthday of English crime novelist and playwright Agatha Christie (1890)(books by this author,) the best-selling novelist of all time. Christie's books have sold more than 2 billion copies around the world and been translated into more than 103 languages.

She was born Mary Clarissa Agatha Miller in Torquay, Devon, to an upper-middle-class family. She was home-schooled by her mother until she was 16, when she was sent to school in Paris to study piano and mandolin. Her father died when she was young, which threw the family into financial upheaval. Rice pudding became a frequent meal, but Christie still described her childhood as "gloriously idle." She adored her mother, who dabbled in Unitarianism and theosophy, made her own dolls and doll furniture, made up ghost stories with her sisters and mother, and favored the nonsensical books of Edward Lear and Lewis Carroll.

Christie worked as a nurse at the Torquay Hospital during World War I, learning much about the poisons that would later populate her novels. She began writing stories, mostly about spiritualism and the paranormal. She set her first novel, Snow Upon the Desert, in Cairo and used the pen name "Monosyllaba." The book was rejected by numerous publishers. She tried again with a book called The Mysterious Affair at Styles (1920), which featured an extravagantly mustached Belgian detective named Hercule Poirot. The book was a hit, and Christie was off and running. Hercule Poirot would be featured in more than 33 of Christie's novels, though she admitted she found Poirot "insufferable and an egocentric creep." She actually killed off Poirot in a novel titled Curtain: Poirot's Last Case, in the early 1940s, and had it stored in a bank vault to safeguard it from Nazi destruction during World War II. When the book was published in 1975, the New York Times ran Hercule Poirot's obituary on the front page.

Agatha Christie's formula was simple: assemble eight or nine people on a snowbound train, a girls' school, or in a remote country house and add a murder. She had a strong dislike for guns, so she devised other methods to dispatch her victims, poison being the most common. In one novel, a child dies by bobbing for apples. In another, a character is electrocuted while executing a specific chess move. Christie stored a corpse with tennis rackets at a club and once had her detective squirt soapy water to subdue a murderer. She often employed red herrings and double bluffs. In one book, the killer turns out to be a dead man. In another, the killer is a child. And in another, it turns out that all 12 suspects have committed the crime, together.

Christie created the character of Jane Marple, an elderly spinster, for the 1927 short story, "The Tuesday Night Club," which appeared in Royal Magazine. Marple appears in 12 Christie novels, including The Thirteen Problems (1932). Marple is a nosy old woman and amateur detective living in the village of St. Mary Mead. Christie said Marple was, "the sort of old lady who would have been rather like some of my step-grandmother's Ealing cronies — old ladies whom I have met in so many villages where I have gone to stay as a girl."

Agatha Christie's play The Mousetrap, originally written as a radio sketch in honor of Queen Mary's 80th birthday, is the world's longest running play. It was first staged in 1952 and has been running ever since. Agatha Christie was made a Dame of the British Empire in 1971 and died in 1976. Her books include Murder on the Orient Express (1934), Death on the Nile (1937), and The Mirror Crack'd from Side to Side (1962).

When asked about her writing method, Christie responded, "The disappointing truth is, I haven't much method." She worked out her plots in school exercise books, making lists of victims, culprits, and MOs, and then picking the best combinations. For most of her life, she pumped out one novel per year, admitting that she often felt like "a sausage machine."

On writing, she said, "Three months seems to me to be quite reasonable to finish a book, if you can get right down to it."

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Anya El-Wattar

Prabhav – The Unexplained After Effect of Food

The past few months have been extremely busy with the day-to-day tasks of setting up the new house and taking care of my family. My routine suffered and my meditation dwindled; I felt suffocated in the mundane reality and needed to touch a deeper part of myself that temporarily got covered up. I decided to give myself a real gift, a weeklong private retreat in Maui with one of my main spiritual teachers, Ram Dass.

Every day of the retreat, Ram Dass would come to my room and we would share the most profound connection. I noticed a difference from when we met a year ago: his communication was becoming increasingly nonverbal. Last year, I felt we mostly exchanged ideas; this year, I received a soul-to-soul transmission. He would simply look around for five minutes—at the wall, the ceiling, the trees outside.

“Are you teaching me to look at everything with love?” I asked him. “Yes, he answered smiling, as he continued looking around.

Finally, he elaborated on his inner journey: “First you say, ‘I am loving awareness,’ then you drop the ‘I’ and just say ‘loving awareness,’ then you stop saying anything and just feel loving, and finally, you become love.”

Ram Dass gave me so much loving guidance while we were together on that retreat, and I wanted to pay him back for his kindness. The best way I know to do that is to offer food cooked with love. Anything offered with love is pure medicine, as he has taught me. This lesson is from his guru, Maharaji, who used to say, “Love people, feed people.” “I feed people with my books and lectures,” he once shared with me.
One day during the retreat, I decided to take the Maharaji lesson literally and love and feed people. I turned the kitchen upside down. I chopped vegetables while four pots simmered and the Vitamix spun like crazy.

Ram Dass was the first to arrive for dinner. He was nicely dressed as if going to a fancy dinner. My heart beat fast when I thought about how much I loved him and how much I wanted to share my love for him. I felt my own energy elevate and expand and pour right into what I prepared.

After the rest of the guests arrived, I served the first course. It was three multicolored heirloom tomatoes with avocado and shaved cucumber adorned with purple pansy petals and radish micro greens. Honey-mustard dressing glistened in small drops all over the dish. Ram Dass asked as he eyed the pansy petals, “Are they edible?” “Of course, not!” I answered mischievously. “They are just here for decoration. Totally poisonous.” He looked puzzled for a split second, but then his face widened into a smile. He raised his finger at me, “You, you,” he said, as if trying to chastise me. Everybody at the table enjoyed a good laugh.

Next course, a piece of a daikon root carved into the shape of a lotus with umeboshi plum paste in its center and served with dashi broth. As I poured the warm broth over the daikon, the pre-sliced pieces opened up like a beautiful flower floating in the middle of this light broth.

Ram Dass was very quiet while eating the “lotus.” Occasionally, I would hear, “Yum, this dish is particularly good. Yum, yum, yum!” He turned to me and said, “Anya, this is very good.” “Thank you, Ram Dass,” I said, “I made it with love.” “I know,” he answered, “I can taste it.”

The main dish was brown rice noodles with a freshly made Thai green curry of mixed vegetables and tofu simmered with coconut milk. I asked everyone at the table how much of the main dish they would like. “I want a lot,” Ram Dass said, accenting “a lot.” “I want as much as he is having,” said his friend, “And I want to have double of what they are having,” exclaimed the young and vibrant man who helps Ram Dass around his house.

“I love you guys!” I exclaimed. “The more you eat, the more I love you.” I placed noodles in deep green bowls and poured colorful curried vegetables over it. I placed a bright orange nasturtium flower in the middle of the dish, which made it look like a mandala.

For the next 10 minutes, the table was silent except for slurping and chewing noises. “I can taste the love,” Ram Dass said. “Me too,” his friend agreed. I felt so much love watching everyone at the table.

Then, it was time for dessert. I knew Ram Dass has issues with his blood sugar, so I made a small and not too sweet dessert. Freshly made passion fruit sorbet with litchi and blood orange slices. He looked a bit disappointed when his small, clean bowl was cleared.

There was a silence at the table after we finished eating. It was not the uncomfortable silence like when you don’t know what to say but a very warm and intimate silence like when you can feel each other’s thoughts. Five minutes later, everyone at the table started laughing. “Do you feel it?” I asked Ram Dass. “Feel what?” he responded. “The prabhav,” I said. “The unexplained aftereffect of the food.” “Is that what it is? I feel it!” he exclaimed, his blue eyes shining brightly. I explained further, “It’s the aftereffect of digesting the love in the food. Now, it’s going to all your cells, intoxicating each one.”

I can still feel the long-lasting prabhav of our dinner and the whole retreat. The prabhav is increased love and a deeper connection to my soul. The magic of what Ram Dass was feeding me was not his mind-blowing wise words but was instead his ability to live in his soul. Being with him was like looking at the soul’s mirror, where I can magically see myself and everyone around me as merely souls. The prabhav of the retreat was that it stripped away layers of ego-driven self and I got to see what was always there—a light and effervescent joy of simply being, cooking, and loving.

– written by Anya El-Wattar

Using Service to Reflect on Yourself


Ram Dass

If you’re going to relieve suffering, the root cause of the suffering is ignorance, and that ignorance has to do with the ignorance about your own separateness or your own entity-ness.

That’s what the Buddha said and I would suggest to most people that if you find something that needs help, and you help it, also work on yourself to make it a conscious act.

When you feed somebody, if I feed you and I think I’m me; you’re you and I’m feeding you, and that’s the plane of reality that I exist at, as I give you the food, I reinforce the sense in you. That you are you and I am me; that is, if I focus on the giving of the act, I increase the dualism between us, the separateness between us, even as I’m doing something that’s considered a kind act.

You must know that feeling when somebody gives you something and they are busy being the person that’s giving it, and then you are the person receiving it, it separates people. There’s another way, where I am giving you food but it’s God’s food and I am just the instrument through which the food is getting from here to there.

If I am living outside of the illusion of separateness, if I have worked on myself enough to have extricated myself from the illusion of a separate entity, so I am feeling like I am one with you, then there is a transfer of energy between us, in food or money or skills or whatever, it is the transfer of energy within an organism, rather than between organisms. So rather than the act separating, the act brings together.

There are many levels at which you relieve suffering; you relieve suffering at one level by giving food. You relieve suffering at another level by giving the food in such a way that is draws people out of the pain of their own separateness. This involves the idea of respect for the people you’re serving, and dignity and really seeing.

You must be driven to work on yourself all of the time, so that your acts of caring for other human beings are not toxic. If you want to help other people, I would say, just look around, check out the bulletin board at your local laundromat. It doesn’t matter where you plug into the system; the issue is the quality of the behavior when you plug into the system.

It’s not just doing the act, it’s the combination of doing the act with the exercise of using the act to see the ways in which you’re ripping off the act for your own psycho-dynamic needs. Without putting yourself down for it, just appreciating the humanity of it, but also getting to the next level of it, where you’re just doing it because you’re a part of the dance, and you’re on the side of the angels. Gandhi said, “When you surrender completely into God, you find yourself in the service of all that exists.”

-Ram Dass

Swimming Ballet

I love the new college swimming pool. It is deep clean and cold. I feel like an Olympian a yogi and a ballerina all rolled into one. Also, there's two and sometimes four life guards. This takes the burden off of me. There were no lifeguards at my other pool and a few times I rescued people. I always would worry that I might be responsible for saving a life.

Blue Bug

I'm not one of those kids who wanted to learn to drive. I waited until I was stranded in rural North carolina, ten miles from the nearest quart of milk. Then I bought a used VW super beetle for 500 dollars. It was ultramarine-cobalty blue! I loved it and it smelled good and the seller was a nice girl who was in college at UNC. And that's how I make my decisions.

I am admittedly a space shot and now that I am driving my husband's ancient maroon Subaru to my nearest pool I have to remember as I'm tootling down the highway "I'm driving, I'm driving." Most people just drive but I have to say this out loud to remind myself. Drive as if my life depended on it because it does. No radio no thinking about other things. The road and the asphalt and the other cars. That's it, baby.

Maybe I should study automotive so I would understand this mysterious machine. Most people are afraid to cook with pressure cookers. When they tell me I say, "Well, I'm afraid to drive. Cars are much more dangerous than pressure cookers."

Petey's Swim Quote

At my pool at CCRI there's a plaque on the wall "This lane is dedicated to Petey, (a lady who swam into her 90's).
Beneath it is her quote "I love to swim, it keeps me from getting into mischief!"

Pressure Cooker Chili


Twist on Tetrazzini


Moving Towards the 8 Areas of Health

Moving Towards the 8 Areas of Health

The U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSHA) is using this year's National {Health} Week, which ends Saturday, to promote the eight dimensions of wellness.

As SAMSHA points out, health is not the absence of illness or stress. Holistic health is a constellation of interrelated elements that contribute to a balanced, more fulfilling life. The goal is to move yourself in a positive direction in these eight areas:

Emotional: Coping effectively with life.

Environmental: Having safe and pleasant surroundings.

Financial: Reducing stress around your financial situation.

Intellectual: Recognizing creative abilities, expanding knowledge and skills.

Occupational: Work (paid or volunteer) that is personally satisfying.

Physical: Caring for the body (physical activity, healthy foods, and sleep).

Social: A sense of connection, a well-developed support system.

Spiritual: Purpose and meaning in life.

One place to start: SWIMMING.

One Pot Tomato Basil

Healthy Eating

The 5 Pillars of Healthy Eating

Minding My Mitochondria

Minding My Mitochondria 2nd Edition: How I overcame secondary progressive multiple sclerosis (MS) and got out of my wheelchair. 2nd Edition
by Terry L. Wahls (Author), Tom Nelson (Illustrator)

Dr. Terry Wahls links micronutrient starvation to the epidemics of chronic disease that are overtaking modern society. She explains the key roles mitochondria play in maintaining a healthy brain and body. Americans are eating so poorly, something we all know to be true, that the majority of Americans are missing key building blocks that are needed for brain cells to be healthy. The result is an epidemic of depression, aggression, multiple sclerosis and early dementia. She then teaches you how to eat for healthy mitochondria, a healthy brain and a healthy body in language that is clear and concise, even for those without a science background. In this book, Dr. Wahls explains basic brain biology in simple terms. She tells us what vitamin, mineral and essential fat building blocks are needed by the mitochondria and other key structures in the brain. Then she explains what foods are good sources for those key nutrients. Over a hundred recipes are provided to help get you started on this new way of eating. A portion of the proceeds from the sale of this book will be used to fund research into the benefits of these interventions in others.

What 3 Ballerinas Eat

Make Your Bed

“When you are facing big tasks in your life, the little details are important,” he said.

No News is Good News

This study examines television viewing motives and psychological outcomes of television news viewing by persons in depressive moods. Subjects were measured for depression, motives for television use, and psychological outcomes of viewing TV newscasts. Results suggest that, in general, television viewing can serve as a means of escape from depressive moods, although viewing of news programming may exacerbate such moods.

Television Brain


Patrick Fuller Sleep Scientist


Margaret Sanger

It's the birthday of Margaret Sanger, born in Corning, New York (1879). She coined the term "birth control," she was its most famous advocate in the United States, and she was the founder of Planned Parenthood. H.G. Wells said of her, "The movement she started will grow to be, a hundred years from now, the most influential of all time."

Margaret Sanger was born into a working-class Irish family. Her mother died at 50, after 18 pregnancies. Margaret went to New York City, became a nurse, got married, and had three children. As a nurse, she worked in the maternity ward on the Lower East Side. Many of her patients were poor, and many ended up in the hospital from self-induced abortions, which often killed them. At the time, contraceptives were illegal in the United States — it was illegal even to send information about contraception through the U.S. Postal Service. Products were out there, but only the wealthy had the means to access them.

Margaret Sanger quit nursing and wrote a series of articles called "What Every Girl Should Know." She also published a radical newspaper, Woman Rebel, with information about contraception. In 1914, she was indicted for sending information about birth control through the mail. She fled to Europe, where she observed birth control clinics, and eventually came back to face charges. The charges were dropped, and in 1916, she and her sister, who was also a nurse, opened a birth control clinic in the Brownsville neighborhood of Brooklyn, to serve the mostly immigrant population. Nine days later, the police closed it down and arrested Sanger, her sister, and the clinic's interpreter. Sanger spent a month in jail, and her sister went on a hunger strike.

In 1921, Sanger founded the American Birth Control League, which in 1946 became Planned Parenthood Federation of America. She also funded research to create a contraceptive pill. She said, "No woman can call herself free until she can choose consciously whether she will or will not be a mother." She died in 1966, at age 87, a year after the landmark Supreme Court decision Griswold vs. Connecticut finally made birth control legal for married couples.

Books by Margaret Sanger

Love and Garbage

“Rubbish is immortal, it pervades the air, swells up in water, dissolves, rots, disintegrates, changes into gas, into smoke, into soot, it travels across the world and gradually engulfs it. (...) Rubbish is like death. What else is there that is so indestructible?”
― Ivan Klíma, Love and Garbage

There is Little that Comes so Close to Death as Fulfilled Love

“Man is reluctant to accept that his life has come to a conclusion in that most important respect, that his hopes have been fulfilled. He hesitates to look death in the face, and there is little that comes so close to death as fulfilled love.”
― Ivan Klíma, Love and Garbage

“Anyone longing to become a writer, for even a few moments of his life, will vainly weave fantastic events unless he has experienced that fall during which he doesn’t know where or whether it will come to an end, and unless his longing for human contact awakens in him the strength to rise, purged, from the ashes.”
― Ivan Klíma, Love and Garbage

“My father also told me that people had always suffered from being tied to the ground, from not being able to detach themselves from it. But they had dreamed of leaving it, and so they had invented the garden of paradise, which had in it everything they yearned for but lacked in their lives, and they had dreamed up creatures similar to themselves but equipped with wings. But what in the past had only been dreamed of was now beginning to materialize, my father said, pointing to the sky. Angels did not exist, but people could now fly. There was no paradise for human souls to dwell in, but one day I would understand that it was more important for people to live well and happily here on earth.”
― Ivan Klíma, Love and Garbage

Ivan Klíma: Power of Literature

“I realised the amazing power of literature and of the human imagination generally: to make the dead live and to stop the living from dying.”
― Ivan Klíma, Love and Garbage

Support & Surrender

by Ram Dass

The wild geese do not intend to cast their reflection and the water has no mind to receive their image. That was the first message I got from the first fortune cookie I opened when I returned from India. That seems like a fitting contract for these writings, and perhaps the full implications of that contract will become clear as we continue.

What I’d like to do is to present a model to you, and the specific model is my own life experience. That’s really all I have to offer to you – of my own experiences. I would like to clarify the reason for doing this. It is not my expectation, or my hope, that any of you necessarily would undergo the particular journey that I am pursuing. I am not proseletyzing or Ashtanga yoga.

But we in the West are faced with a very interesting predicament through a variety of circumstances, some of which are built into the culture like changes in communication media and so on. Some of them are the result of the chemicals that have appeared and been widely used – psychedelics.

Some of them are personal experiences people have had which previously they kept hidden but now they begin to redefine or they’ve hidden them under labels that society provided them which made them seem like psychosis or insanity or something, and they now reconsider them. As a result of all these circumstances many people in the west including me, and I assume you and that must be what’s bringing you here; appreciate the possibility of states of consciousness other than our normal waking state of consciousness.

Or maybe you are here just because you look at the world in which you’re living and you say, ‘Well, we obviously can’t handle it with what we’ve got going, so I’ll at least look for something else,’ even though you may not have the faith in the possibility that there is something else, but you’re gonna look anyway.

So we’re presented with a possibility and it filters through to us from one source or another that there is a very ancient tradition of people who have realized other states of consciousness and have sent messages and made maps. But the problem that we have as westerners is, that we can’t understand the maps. The maps are there, the secrets are not secrets in the sense of ‘I’m not gonna tell you’, they’re secrets in the sense that we can’t hear.

Jung writes in a book by Wilhelm called the Secret of the Golden Flower, its a eulogy. He commends Wilhelm for having the courage as a westerner to give up his predispositions of thought to be able to get into that position from which he could appreciate the eastern writings from an inside point of view, in other words give up his identity as a westerner.

The term that you may be familiar with is what’s called surrender.

And so what we can do for one another as westerners, is collect the data that are available to each of us as we open ourselves to them. We are all on a journey. We are just as Herman Hesse talks about the fellow travellers on our journey to the east. East not being literal necessarily but metaphorical.

And what we can do is we can help each other along.

We can be the satsang, the sanga, the spiritual community, the support for one another.

Giving each other the confidence to keep pursuing this possibility.

And we give each other our own lives to help and that’s what I would like to do.

I’d like to present as I say, the model, because maybe there’ll be some clues that will be of some use to you in your own sadhana, in your own spiritual journey.

But in doing this I am going to work on myself as I’m always doing. Doing my mantra, japa, and therefore I’m really not speaking – Because the place where I am and I hope you are – is the same place where we are together witnessing one of us speaking and the rest of us listening.

But let’s not get trapped in our social roles. It’s a good exercise.

– Ram Dass, 1968

Ram Dass Discussing Chakras

Chakras in the Body

by Ram Dass

If you think in terms of chakras, or energy systems in the body or connected with the body, there is the first, second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh, which are called the muladhara, sradhishthana, manipura, anahata, vishuddha, anja, and sahasrara. The first one is in the bottom of the spine, the second is sort of below the navel, the third is at the navel, the fourth is in the heart region, the fifth is at the throat, the sixth is between the eyebrows, the seventh is on the top of the head.

These don’t necessarily have any physiological correlates. They’re just psychic localizations of psychic energy, let’s put it that way, in this Hindu system, a Sanskrit, Hindu system I was talking about. Now, instead of doing an MMPI or a Rorschach you could also do a chakra chart, just like you could do an astrological chart. And these all tell you certain things. An astrological chart is like an MMPI one level back in abstraction. In the same way, a chakra chart tells, in a way, where the energy is fixed or localized in a person, where it’s stuck.

For most people in the Western universe, in fact most people in the world, almost all of the energy is located either in the first, second, or third chakras. The first chakra can be characterized crudely as being connected with survival and the survival of the individual as a separate being. It’s like we’re in the jungle and there’s one piece of meat and who’s going to get it, you or me? It’s a survival-of-the-fittest type model. It’s a Darwinian assumption about the motivations of beings. When you’re at that chakra, your motivation is to protect yourself as a separate being, your separateness. And the channel up which this is all going is called the Sushumna – think of it as a big river. You go in the river from Africa and the next stop is like the Riviera. See, you’ve got your security under control and now you start to go into sensual gratification and sexual desires and reproduction. You can’t be busy reproducing if you’re protecting your life, but the minute your life’s protected a little bit, then you can concern yourself with the next matter, which is reproducing the species. So the second chakra is primarily concerned with sexual actions, reactions, and so on – at the reproduction level. Procreative. Sex.

The third chakra, that’s like Wall Street and Washington and London. It’s primarily connected with power, with mastery, with ego control. Most of the world that we think of is connected with those particular centers. All the energy’s located there. People justify their lives in terms of reproduction or sexual gratification or power or mastery. And it’s interesting that pretty much any act we know of in the Western world can be done in the service of any one of those energies. So that a man can build a huge dynamic industry or we can say, “Aha, phallic,” meaning second chakra. Or a person can seduce many women in order to have mastery and power over them and we say, “Aha, concerned with power and mastery,” meaning third chakra. Doing sex in the service of third chakra.

Jung is primarily concerned with the fourth chakra. I would point out that there are still the fifth, sixth and seventh chakras, and these are in terms of other kinds of psychic spaces and ways of organizing the universe and understanding what’s happening. There are many theories that are nonmystical and there are theories that are mystical; there are theories that deal with transcendent states and there are theories that don’t. And when Jung starts to deal with his archetypes, collective unconscious and so on, he is starting to deal with the fourth chakra, which is the same thing as Buddha’s compassion. He is still in astral planes and he himself is afraid to go on, that’s quite clear. He goes just so far and then he stops, because he’s afraid that if he goes the next step, he will no longer be able to do what he does as Carl Jung. That’s a very tricky place, to be able to surrender to your game which you have certain mastery in, in order to go for more. But I’m afraid that everybody is driven to go for more until they can, in the depths of their inner being, say, “This is enough.” And they can only say that when it is. So the press of evolution on man’s consciousness is inevitable. There’s nothing he can do about it. He doesn’t really have much choice in the matter. He’s just got to wake up at the rate he’s got to wake up.

– Ram Dass, 1970

Ivan Klíma

“To destroy is easier than to create, and that is why so many people are ready to demonstrate against what they reject. But what would they say if one asked them what they wanted instead?”
― Ivan Klíma, Love and Garbage

James Phelps: A Spectrum Approach

A Spectrum Approach to Mood Disorders: Not Fully Bipolar but Not Unipolar--Practical Management 1st Edition, Kindle Edition
by James Phelps

Brain Tour

Morning Musings

I slept so well last night that when I got up I read articles about sleep. This is ragweed allergy season and when I have to take those medicines to stave off the hammering anvil sinus headache I pay for it by waking many times in the night. Yesterday I swam a mile for the first time in 4 days and I slept deeply and woke 2 minutes ahead of the alarm. Also, after my swim yesterday I didn't need allergy meds. Sometimes I think that swimming works as a decongestant! Leave that gunk in the pool.

great reading