Thursday, November 30, 2017


Praise to all the stalwart souls--that is you--that maneuver their way through life on a daily basis. 

When I stood at the arena at a Tony Robbins event and looked out over a 10,000 plus audience, I saw how eager folks are to know themselves, to rid themselves of emotional, financial, and physical hurts. I saw how delicate they are and how easily bruised. I saw how they (I was there too) turn to a leader who they believe has more information than they do.

I once sat in an Ashram in India with a few hundred eager souls desperate for spiritual upliftment. Together we watched a Guru named Sai Baba supposedly produce ash (Verbuti, sacred ash) from his hand, and people sat soaking up his presence—darsum they called it, that is being in the presence of a “holy” person.

Some thought they were in the presence of God.

I’m embarrassed to say this, but I attended numerous retreats with a channel named Ramtha. I thought he was the best show on the block, but soon, and much expense later I said, “Enough.” And quit.

To celebrate our freedom from the Ramtha experience, two friends and I went to Germany and visited Mother Meera, a silent Guru. The room was packed. One by one we went up to a beautiful young woman dressed in a colorful sari seated at the head of the room. We knelt down and touched her feet. She placed her hands on our heads, and supposedly removed “tangles.”  (From the brain, not the hair.)

Remember how the movie and the book The Secret took the country by storm, became a best seller, then fizzled out?

The had a secret, but not a complete solution.

Last night I watched a documentary titled Enlighten Me about James Earl Ray, a “Spiritual Guru,” who touted himself as a “Spiritual Warrior” and whose sweat lodge killed three people and sent 18 more to the hospital.

And those people paid almost 10,000 dollars to do it!

The judge profoundly proclaimed his wonder of how consenting adults could lose their practical sense and allow themselves to be in harm’s way. On the other hand he blamed James Earl Ray stating that when someone has the power to persuade, they also have a responsibility to protect those under their tutelage.

People in James Earl Ray’s audience broke boards with their bare hands—impressive, but where was their tremendous “breakthrough?”

Attendees to his retreats bungee jumped to get past their fears.

Participants fell backward into fellow participants hands trusting that those behind them would catch them.

And then some went into a sweat lodge and were cooked.

Haven’t we been taught that learning is hard, that it requires hard work and struggle both financially and physically?

And school time wasn’t enough, there was homework that you couldn’t possible ignore out of fear of tomorrow’s reprimand. 

Embarrassment worked.

The long arm of education reached into the homes and forced parents to sit on their kids. We were taught to obey.

And then in college how many times have you struggled to stay awake during a droll lecture?

I just flashed on a memory. I was two or three-years-old, and still put down for an afternoon nap. Lying there staring out the window I make a discovery. 

“Mom,” I yelled. “the sky is moving!”

Remember when learning was fun?

Considering the conditioning we had, it is any wonder that people go to retreats and endure the trials because they believe that will push them through their “blocks” their phobias, their psychological injuries?

We believe a teacher knows more than we do.

The Native American’s built their sweat lodge from twigs, as did the “Spiritual Warriors.” The Native Americans, however, did not cover their sweat lodge with plastic and seal their people inside.

Why am I saying all this?

Do not give your power away.

Our animals know to protect their physical body. True, sometimes they overplay the protective mechanism and panic over trivial things.

We think they are trivial. The animal doesn’t.

As do people who will not leave their house.

Sometimes people get lost in perversion and neurosis.

But here we are with our big thinking brain, and we are trying to separate the  reasonable fear from the unreasonable.

Caz of Y Travel writes: I was hit with panic and overwhelm just minutes before sitting down in the chair… As soon as I walked in and saw all the action (which was thrilling) and then the set up with the cameras, my stomach rolled, and the voice said, "I don't think you've got what it takes for this big time"

On another blog Caz says It's amazing how much the girls will whine about going on a hike and then completely fall in love with the experience ten steps in.

How often do we grumble and complain that something is hard or scary, and then having pushed through come out triumphant and ecstatic?

That is the reason people go to gurus.

Common sense is in our genes, but it gets eroded by the clamor of “authorities.”

Didn’t they teach us in schools that others know more than we do?

And to obey.

The teacher.
The laws.
The government.

For a long while they even tried to control women by putting “Obey” in the wedding vows. Did that also apply to the man?

It isn’t easy is it, maneuvering the labyrinth of life?

We want to use our built-in common sense, yet, we must rely on people who know more than us. I don’t know how to fly an airplane—yet I want to fly in one. I don’t know how to fix my car, but I want to drive. I don’t know how to set a broken bone, but if I have one, I want somebody to know how to fix it.

We read to gather information from others who have studied, researched, or are just plain fun. They have packaged it for our benefit. Thus culture grows.

And aren’t we glad someone was smart enough to build the computer?

Technology, smartphones, televisions, rockets, jets, didn’t come from one individual. All of it was built up incrementally from others who studied, experimented and learned.

Did someone teach Michelangelo how to sculpt or did he spring fully blown upon the scene?

However, we distort and make small ourselves by venerating those who have mastered their craft or are the top of their game; Trump who made gobs of money, athletes, actors, we pay them the most. Now technology gurus are joining the fray.

We turn to coaches for sport’s training and for business acumen. We turn to psychiatrists for our mental health and doctors for our physical health. And people want to understand life. Dan Brown used two of life’s persistent questions as the basis of his book Origins, “Where did we come from, and where are we going?’

The reason people throng to gurus, to retreats, to workshops, to channels, to churches, is to understand and to know. People are in pain. World events and struggle have numbed people. Many have jobs they don’t like and relationships that are unfulfilling.

The “I’m not good enough,” syndrome raises its ugly head at EVERY workshop.

Some people scoff and laugh at specific disciplines and yet have one of their own just as restrictive.

To maneuver this labyrinth of life takes some share of wit.

You know what they say about being lost in the desert, gold wouldn’t amount to a hill of beans, but the guy with the water jug could save our life.

Remember that common sense gene? Or is it a gene? I don’t know, except I heard last night that People, all people, red, yellow, black or white have the genetic structure that is 99.9% the same with all other people.

We are all in this soup together.

You are good enough—you got born, a miracle in itself, you are maneuvering life.

*“What is REAL?” asked Rabbit one day, when they were lying by side near the nursery fender, before Nana came to tidy the room.

*From From The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams

”Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?”

“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 often happen 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.”

Live your life that the fear of death can never enter your heart.

Trouble no one about his religion.

Respect others in their views and demand that they respect yours.

Love your life, perfect your life, beautify all things in your life.

Seek to make your life long and of service to your people.

Prepare a noble death song for the day when you go over the great divide.

Always give a word or sign of salute when meeting or passing a friend, or even a stranger, if in a lonely place.

Show respect to all people, but grovel to none.

When you rise in the morning, give thanks for the light, for your life, for your strength. Give thanks for your food and for the joy of living. If you see no reason to give thanks, the fault lies in yourself. 

• Tecumseh, Shawnee •

Carry on.
Be happy.
Celebrate life!

Monday, November 27, 2017

Like Food? Read On

Good morning,

I missed you.

I’ve had a foray away from the computer, and therefore, you, but I figure you are there and we’re chatting.

Oh, it’s just me typing? Well darn. I figured this was a two-way street. So, tell me, how was your week?

I wanted to give you a tour of Portland Oregon, and I will--sort of. You can call this a “Traveling with Joyce or Jo,” whichever.

On Friday we drove from Junction City to Portland in the sunshine, but the following day we slogged through rain, and what do you do in the rain?


Great, just what my husband and I needed the day after Thanksgiving where I gave honor to Julia Childs with an Ode to Butter.

I buttered the turkey before putting it in the oven. The stuffing called for butter. I buttered the broccoli and the mashed potatoes, and oh yes, the sweet potatoes were glazed with butter and brown sugar.

No butter in the pumpkin pie—no, but that dollop of whipping cream on top was close enough.

I’m buttered out.

But thank you, Julia Childs, for telling us to cook with butter. And now that we know fat is good for us, well, what can I say? Ask daughter number one; she will rave about how fat is not only necessary to our health and welfare but will satisfy hunger.

That first evening in Portland I wanted a steak and salad--had one, not a good one though. I took the recommendations of the motel receptionist, and we went four doors down, to Bill’s Steak House. Don’t do it.

Breakfast: “Let’s have lox, bagel, and cream cheese at Kornblatt’s,” I say to husband dear.

We’re off with our little dog Sweetpea in tow. 

The 23rd Street area is my favorite place to be in Portland, quaint shops, good food, and it is very dog-friendly with water bowls outside the shops, and many well-behaved dogs leading their people down the street.  Sweetpea waited in the car during our breakfast/lunch though.

Begin your day right--with a dill pickle.

Leaving Kornblatt’s fortified, we spent the day slogging through the rain. Rain does not keep Portlander’s home—the streets and shops were crowded and finding a place to park was a challenge even for a scientist with a slide rule. (Remember those?)

On one rainy day, my kids and I had the best day at Disneyland for rain did keep people away and we ran from The Indiana Jones ride to Splash Mountain and back again about three times.  I splashing in the rain is one difference between Pacific Northwest people and Southern California People.

We found Finnegan’s Toy Store in downtown Portland that I had seen advertised as a sort they don’t make anymore. Not a big box store but with lots of stuff, educational, scientific and playful. 

Sculpture alongside the sidewalk. Oregon is the Beaver State after all. 

We got wet, carried the dog, who would balk when she either got too wet, or decided she had had enough. wore ourselves out, went to our motel.

Okay, time for more food.

I didn’t feel satisfied with food so far; I wanted something with pizzazz. So what did I suggest? A pizza! One cannot be un-cheered with a pizza. Of course, it needs to be a good pizza.

Enter Pizzeria Otto on Sandy, Blvd.

I tried to get a photo of the cook throwing a pizza dough—we were sitting at the bar, close to the pizza oven--when one of the other cooks told me that one really shouldn’t throw the dough, “It should be treated like a delicate flower.”

The pizza was cooked Neapolitan-style, soft dough, crispy at the edges, just right. An excellent Caesar salad with anchovies preceded it. We added a glass of Chianti, and I was satisfied.

The following day we drove back up Burnside Street to 22nd Street and stopped at The Elephants Deli, a delicatessen reminiscent of an old European market with prepared food, food to order, sweets, all made in-house, along with kick-knacks to browse.

They were featuring their in-house-made fondue, the sample tasted excellent, so I bought a pint to take home.

Fondue Do’s and Don’t.

Do: Expertly stir your fondue fork in a figure-eight pattern, don’t just dip.

Don’t: Lose your baguette in the cheese—tradition dictates that if you do, you must kiss the person to your left. (This might be a do, or a don’t.)

Do: Pare with white wine. (Duh.)

We’re home; the sun is shining.

Where shall we go next?

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Can You Believe It?

It’s Thanksgiving in two days, didn’t we just do that?

I am thankful, that’s not it. 

I believe in being thankful every day, it’s just that time is speeding up so fast I can’t keep track of it.

And being a tropical person at heart, I do not look forward to wintry days, but here I am in Oregon.

I grew up in Oregon and loved the snow. As a kid,  I would awaken in the night and look out the window to see it had snowed, but then we lived up a long sweeping road, and us kids would ride our sleds for miles down the long  incline. Of course, that meant hiking back up the hill, but that didn’t matter. Hot chocolate was waiting at home in a warm house.

Then I spent some 20 years in California, guess I grew soft.

I raved and exclaimed, and praised last spring for we had moved into a home new to us, and with that came flowers someone else had planted, and I didn’t know existed.  I felt that someone had daily presented a bouquet to me. And that will come again. 

So I will enjoy the winter, and snuggle in and write and read, and if it snows I will note the silence of it, and smell the freshness of the air, and watch the sparkles in the air that are minuscule ice crystals.  

Walter Rauschenbusch, American writer, 1861, wrote the following. I added the pictures.

A Thanksgiving Day Prayer

 For the wide sky and the blessed sun, 

For the salt sea and the running water, 

For the everlasting hills And the never-resting winds, For trees and the common grass underfoot. 

We thank you for our senses By which we hear the songs of birds, And see the splendor of the summer fields,


And taste of the autumn fruits, 

And rejoice in the feel of the snow,

 And smell the breath of the spring. 

Grant us a heart wide open to all this beauty.

-- Walter Rauschenbusch

Have a joyful thankful celebration,