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Sunday, July 31, 2011

Connection Campaign

There is a common thread that runs through all humanity. There is an invisible cord by which we are strung one to another. The ego mind, however, has a tendency to separate and divide us from others. It wants to stand alone, on top. Walls are erected, and distances are established.

But we are not meant to be solitary creatures. We appear to be separate, but separation is an illusion. In essence, we are One. In the deepest parts of ourselves, we yearn to remember that.

To rekindle the awareness of unity, I propose a world-wide Connection Campaign. I suggest that we each make a daily effort to connect with at least one other person. If once per day seems overwhelming for you, perhaps you could commit to connecting with another person once per week. Start where you are at. Find a way to relate. Foster love. Take part in my Connection Campaign.

The object is to let the other know that he matters in the world. How can we know that we are noticed, loved, and appreciated if we are not told or shown? Be a bridge to span the seeming distance between us. Find common ground. Focus on that which unites, rather than divides.

Connection Ideas

A genuine smile can initiate an intimate connection. Go beyond a rhetorical “How are you today?” Ask and expect a sincere answer. If asked, answer and then reciprocate with the same question.

Has there been a particular someone on your mind? Pick up the phone or send an email to let him know he’s thought of.

On a sultry summer day, invite your mail carrier in for a cold glass of iced tea.

Compliment the cashier’s hairstyle.

These are just a few ideas to help you get started. They need not cost you monetarily.


How does this Connection Campaign differ from the idea of Random Acts of Kindness?
Here, you are asked not to remain anonymous. You are asked to reach out and to give the other the opportunity to reach back. The goal is to forge connections with others so that no one feels alone.

Connection Stories

Please share a connection experience in the comment section below. Tell us what you did today to connect to another person. Tell us how another person reached out to connect to you. Feel free to make an entry as often as you’d like.

Thank you for participating!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Enlightening Excerpt

"We come to this world with a set of gifts to share with those around us. One of our duties, I believe, is to find out what those gifts are and give them."  ~ M

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Life Is like a Buffet

Yesterday, I stepped into a microcosm of my life when I entered the China Buffet in Sarasota, Florida. It first struck me as I answered the host, “One,” when he asked, “How many?” It was true that I would be dining at a table by myself, yet I would not be alone. I would be part of the collective whole of diners dispersed throughout the restaurant. I am a solitary individual who emerged from the womb alone, yet I am a part of the collective whole of humanity. We are each Oneness individualized. Can you grasp the magnitude of that?

My cosmic realizations continued as I was escorted to a small booth whose table displayed a miniature plastic sign that read, “Please enjoy all the food you take, but be respectful of food not eaten and left on your plate.” It prompted me to ask myself if I ever take more than what I need or plan to use. I know I do not when I am at an eatery; I want it all, and I eat it all! But what about in a broader sense? Am I mindful of future generations who will need the resources that are at my disposal today? I do not keep the water running while I brush my teeth, but I do allow the shower to flow while I shave my legs. I do recycle my plastic, glass, and paper, but I don’t think twice about refilling my fuel tank. Are there areas in your life where you are utilizing more than your fair share?

A few tables to my right, there was a restless three-year-old wailing. Nothing satisfied him. No amount of coddling or cajoling alleviated his angst. His father removed him from the crowd for a private time-out. I was reminded of times when I, like the little boy, am insatiable when it comes to attention and incessant when it comes to complaints. There are times when I, too, am needy, clingy, and want to cry out loud. What a nuisance to those around me! I have often injected myself into a social atmosphere when what I really needed was a time-out with The Father to rebalance. Are there times when you feel it might be best to stay alone for an hour or a day just to restore? Honor that.

As I was helping myself to the smorgasbord, I noticed another plastic sign. This one read, “Please use a clean plate for each trip to the buffet bar.” It reminded me of the best way to approach each new day—with a clean slate. Let go of what’s sullied. Let the soiled be washed away. Start fresh. Use a new wineskin for the new wine, lest ruination. What are you still carrying that needs cleansing?

There was an abundance of food laid out, plenty enough for all present. If every customer wanted pork lo mein, then pork lo mein would continuously be provided until all had their fill. One’s gain would not mean another’s loss. Neither is life a zero-sum game. There is more than enough to go around. Why then, I asked myself, do I sometimes fret that I will be left short-changed? Do you ever fear lack of universal supply? It is only an illusion.

That renewed abundance, however, may require an appeal and some patience. When I noticed that the Chinese honey donuts were gone, I asked a worker who was refilling other trays if he would please replenish them. I waited several minutes with no results, and then asked another worker for the same. In the meantime, I chatted with a fellow customer, served myself some ice cream, and took a trip to the ladies’ room. When I returned, there they were! The tray was overflowing with Chinese honey donuts. I had asked for what I wanted, and then I waited patiently until it was given. Are you persistent and expecting when you present your desires to the Universe?

As always, at the end of my meal, I looked forward to the fortune cookie containing sage advice that was certain to accompany my bill. I swear that each time the message is divinely meant specifically for me. Yesterday’s advised, “Judge each day not by the harvest you reap but by the seeds you plant.” Just what I needed to hear in that moment! I often base the success of my day on outward appearances. It would be wise for me not to ignore the deeds done. What messages is your life speaking to you? Are you open and receptive to them?

When I was through, I trusted that someone would come along to clean up after me, so I left a tip as a Thank You. It is so important to continually express gratitude daily, but especially appropriate at the end of each day. We can say thank you for the nourishment we received for our bodies, minds, and spirits. Thank you for the lessons that were presented and the opportunity to master them. Thank you for the chance to try again where we may have fallen short.

Yesterday, I realized that life is like a Chinese buffet. Bon Appétit.

Be enlightened!  ~ M

Sunday, July 17, 2011

A Last Goodbye

The elevator doors slid shut with a ding. For the vertical span of three floors, I was entombed with no sign of life save for the fluttering butterflies in my belly and the blinking numerals next to the shining silver buttons. The smell of antiseptic did not seep into this box, but the pungent odor of leftover cafeteria stroganoff did.

With another ding, the doors unclamped their grip, and I was free to approach the over-bright fluorescent corridor. Straight. Turn left. Last door facing ahead at the end of the hallway. My footsteps were slow, my heartbeat rapid. I did not know what to expect. How bad would it be?

The picture window offering a view of the Bronx-Whitestone Bridge was the first thing I noticed as I entered the room. Beneath it, a white-haired woman, drawn, hunched in a sea green vinyl chair. This is what a grieving mother looks like, I thought to myself. Aunt Helen? She rose and advanced. We greeted each other with our family’s perfunctory kiss of the air to the side of the right cheek. She returned to her distant seat.

To my left, jutting from the wall was a single bed that housed a skeleton. Cousin Larry? Ignoring the red signs posted in strategic places throughout the room warning of contamination, I approached him slowly and kissed his forehead lightly. I pulled up an aqua blue vinyl chair next to his bed and sat close to his right side. With ungloved hands, I reached for the Styrofoam cup of water that was sitting on his nightstand. Realizing he would be unable to lift himself to an upright position for drinking, I also retrieved the disposable straw—one with an elbow to bend to his mouth as I held it between his chapped-to-the-point-of-bleeding lips.

Angry lesions covered the visible areas of his body. The unseen areas beneath the light blue hospital gown and coarse white cotton blanket were sure to be the same, maybe worse. His eyes were sunken and their twinkle absent. Is this the boy that I, three years his junior, had played handball with against the graffitied concrete wall? Is this the boy with whom I had melted Crayolas into Coke bottle caps for shooting skelly? Is this the boy who had taught me to light firecrackers? What happened to the mischievous pre-teen with whom I had spent so many weekends in Flushing, Queens? How did the last dozen years since then lead him here like this?

I doted on him, not knowing what else to do. “Are you still thirsty? Are you cold? Shall I get the nurse?” I wanted to relieve his symptoms as a way of relieving my own anxiety. I wanted to alleviate his mother’s shame and tell her it was no longer necessary to pretend that he had skin cancer; I knew it was AIDS. I knew this would be our last goodbye, and I wanted this visit to be meaningful. But, instead, I commented on how lovely the vase of daisies looked on the windowsill, I straightened the Get Well card dangling from the corkboard near the foot of the bed, and I again reached for the cup of water with the elbowed straw.  

It is a privilege to be welcomed into the process when one is preparing to transition from one plane of existence to another. It is a sacred trust bestowed upon us when we are invited in while the worldly is being released. We are oftentimes nervous when we enter, uncertain what to expect. We are not sure what to say or how to act. It might feel more comfortable to keep away and distant. But when we can overcome our own discomfort, or at least bear it, and remain present for another; when we can hold a quiet space for the dying and grieving; when we can surpass the compulsion to engage in meaningless chatter that crowds the space for intimate conversation; when we can sit still; when we can be with rather than do for, then this is the greatest gift we can offer and the most loving tribute we can pay as a last goodbye. I wish I had known that then.

Be enlightened!  ~ M

Sunday, July 10, 2011

On Creating

It was the thin blue lines on an otherwise blank sheet of paper that called to me in the night, beckoning me to write. I, in compliance, rose from my cozy cocoon of cotton layers and sauntered toward the light to find my pre-dawn companion—my medium-point, rubber-grip Bic with the blue ink. Together, in perfect tandem, we danced and glided across the page, one thin blue line at a time. To jot it all down was a drive as necessary as my next breath.

With pen to page, something cracked open inside me like the delicate shell of a hen’s egg being shattered against a Pyrex bowl at breakfast time. Protectively encased memories slipped out like yolk. My beloved Bic aided the release as he obediently followed the guide of my hand like a perfect lover.

At dawn, I read what I had created. Satisfied, I smiled.

For me, writing is more than a means of communication; it is a creative outlet. I rarely go to sleep at night without a pen and pad nearby. Written words on a page —whether musical lyrics, poetic lines, or academic prose—beg to be birthed through me. I set an intention before bedtime, make it a point to be prepared, and then allow myself to open as a channel for inspiration to flow.    

We all have creativity inside of us waiting to pour forth. Maybe there’s a picture that wants painting, a business proposal that requires formulating, or a garden that needs planting. A muse is speaking to you. Sometimes, it’s like a maddening itch that demands to be scratched, and at others, it’s like a shy kitten peeking from behind the sofa. Are you listening?

To create is the natural tendency of universal energy, which is ever moving into and out of form. Ideas are born in the spiritual realm of potentiality. They become manifest through us when we allow the power of thought to act upon a concept. Our intention serves as the mold.

What ideas are springing into your awareness? Which ones do you wish to bring forth into the physical realm? Remember, the idea of a cherry pie will not manifest as one if you pour brownie mix into a cupcake pan. Thoughts and actions must align with intentions. This is how we create our desires.

Be enlightened!  ~ M

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Free to Choose

I sat beside him on a grey tweed blanket intended for use on an Army cot. The lawn beneath the course fiber was still spongy from the prior day’s storms. With elbows locked and palms flat behind me, I sat propped up with straight legs crossed at the ankles and my head cocked right. I watched him as he sat Indian style with hunched back fidgeting with a blade of grass between his thumbs and index fingers. Our chaperones, his parents, had perched themselves a few feet behind us on rust-pitted aluminum folding chairs with green and originally-white webbing.

As the sky dimmed, an air of palpable anticipation engulfed the tightening crowd. Intermittent crackles echoed in the distance, and the Mister Softee theme song jingled nearby. A bearded salesman peddled neon necklaces and flags on sticks. The laughter of young children pealed. Glowing citronella candles kept mosquitoes at bay. I was grateful to have been invited.

The show began with a loud boom and an explosion of raining diamonds. “It looks just like it does on The Honeymooners!” I proclaimed. We were Jackie Gleason fans, and what we were witnessing was reminiscent of the show’s opening scene.

Yeah, I guess.” Richard’s voice was near monotone.

Wow, look at the colors!” There was a vividness that my family’s 19-inch Sony had never known. My blanket mate shrugged his shoulders.

With each burst, my heart vibrated the way it did when the high school marching band paraded down Main Street on Memorial Day. “Do you feel that, Richard?” I noticed his hands were covering his ears.

When the display ended with a rumbling finale, we piled back into the brown side-paneled station wagon. “So, did you kids have fun?” Richard’s father inquired.

Yes,” we replied in unison. One of us was smiling, the other lying.

I never want to forget that first experience of watching fireworks live rather than from the couch in my family’s living room, and I do not want to forget its lesson. My childhood friend had seen live firework displays many times; it was an annual tradition for his family. For him, the novelty of it had worn off. He took for granted what exhilarated me. I could have allowed his boredom to dampen my spirits, but I chose not to.

In every circumstance, we are free to choose how we will respond. We are free to accept this moment or to resist it. We are free to choose the attitude with which we will face life daily. We are free to love and embrace or to reject and exclude. We are free to build bridges or walls. Will we retain childlike wonder, or will we allow indifference to reign? You, my dear, are free to choose. Do so wisely.

Be enlightened! ~ M