day 81 – Anne Frank

I hesitated to write about Anne.  I had read The Diary of a Young Girl and weeped bitterly in Junior High.  Her tragic end and the Holocaust enraged me.  Her treatment, a symbol for all who have ever been treated badly, sickens me to this day.

I solve crypto quotes and enjoy word play.  Crypto quotes are coded messages; one letter really stands for another.  So, A=S perhaps or A=O.  You have to figure it out each time and what you solve is always a famous quote.  I am fond of great quotes, too.

The other day, I solved a crypto quote from Anne Frank.  It was actually two different quotes.  I saved it because I loved the quotes, but it was on my mind that these particular quotes were written by someone with such a tragic end, outspoken and a young, ambitious writer.  I clipped it and let it hang around my writing desk.  Occasionally, I re-read it, picked it up and pondered.

Then, weeks after receiving a local periodical, I decided to peruse it, just a few days ago, around the same time I solved Anne’s quotes.  In a small area of the layout on page 3 with Community News and advertisements for a nearby market, I read:

Anne Frank Remembered.  


Within three paragraphs was an invitation to meet and greet with Eva Schloss at a local temple and have breakfast. Eva was supposedly her friend and stepsister.  I missed the event because it had already happened but still I wondered when was the last time I even have heard of Anne Frank’s name ?  Why did her name come up twice in a week’s time?  You know I don’t like to think about this.  Hmmmm.

Then, two days ago I handled a potentially sticky, awkward and myopic comment with resolute grace.  It was related to religion.

Yesterday, I stood firm against another invasion of someone’s mishandling of a rule that could have been offensive to others and spoke up where at another time I probably would have cowered or let it go for fear of rebuttal or rebuke.  And, it stung to be the one to receive the dirty looks for bringing up tenets everyone else was ignoring, but somebody, why not me? has to do it.

What does this have to do with Anne Frank?

If people before me hadn’t stuck up for others like me or for the solutions that work or for my family’s freedom to immigrate,  I would not be here.  If you think you are safe for not getting involved, check in with your heart and soul.  Should you really stay out of a controversy because it’s not your cause?  Isn’t being part of the human race cause enough for getting involved in any human loss by the hands of a human?  Does anyone else realize that if something is being done to your brother/sister it can be done to you?

I get really impassioned on this subject in general; I wanted to be a foreign correspondent/journalist way back then when I was young and an idealist and anyone who knows me, knows I am outspoken.   But, just like I admit I am not Ms. Eco-Green, I have also not spoken up plenty of times, to save my own hide/face.  Shame on me.

This blurb in a local paper and the crypto quotes brought back the human suffering and injustices inflicted on others that many people just stood back and watched.

It is in the tiny details of everyday living though and in keeping authentically clear with ourselves that we can speak our truth, daily.  Just like Anne wrote about in her diary. Her ambition, her passion and her work was to note, observe and write; truths about her day and how she saw the world in her wise, innocent and powerful way.

I sometimes hold back because I know my outrage may sound so pithy or whiny, get me in trouble or make me some enemies –  but when I let something slip by on purpose, I feel I let myself down.

The two quotes:

“Whoever is happy will make others happy too.”

“He who has courage and faith will never perish in misery.”

Simple, heartfelt and true.  Thank you, Anne Frank.  Thanks for the reminder.

day 80

Do you remember Around the World in Eighty Days written by the famous French author Jules Verne and the Oscar winning 1956 movie?

Do you know that Interstate 80 runs from New York to San Francisco?

Today is my 80th day of writing everyday continuously, consistently and constantly publicly on the Internet.

I hope whoever is reading it is being entertained in some way.

Some of you I know are following, and I thank you.  I love receiving comments whether on the site, by telephone or in person. I thank all the readers.  It reinforces my writing habit.  (Check the side for my reply or click on the page you commented on).

Plus, I encourage you to share my link with others if you think it is worthy of doing so.




day 79 – Negative Ions

Both the ocean and forest emit an abundant amount of negative ions, which is a positive condition for us.

Humans can only see around 2% of the invisible electromagnetic field and that encompasses color.  Some of us may actually sense vibrations when we walk into a room or from an object or a person.

It is interesting to note that when we are in nature, such as a field, woods, beach, ocean or a living desert, we usually relax.  That is because these natural environments discharge negative ions.  They are electrically charged atoms generated in specific places of nature.  Chief among all transmitters are ocean waves, waterfalls and pine trees.  “Water and plants create over 50% of the negative ions produced naturally on Earth.” Notes Catriona MacGregor in her outstanding science-based book, Partnering with Nature: The Wild Path to Reconnecting with the Earth.

Negative ions help with depression, the blues and plain old sadness.  They lift our spirits and change our electrical charge to a positive one.  Clarity and calmness ensue.

This may be why in days gone by, people were sent to the coast, a mountain getaway or a cruise across the Atlantic in order to re-group, get a different perspective, restore and reanimate themselves.  Doctors ordered it and it usually did the trick. Now we know scientifically by calibrated measurements taken with sensitive equipment that these landscapes send forth undulations that can heal us.

Ancient civilizations and Native traditions have always honored Mother Earth.  For some arrogant reason, we (Modern Man) take for granted and destroy our planet with no thought.

I do what I can like composting, never use pesticides, recycle, etc.…but I have been domesticated and still pump up the air conditioner when it’s hot and leave my footprint driving around in my gas guzzler.  I am aware of where I can and do change my habits and behavior but I am not a saint or as pure a conservationist as I believe I really should be.  Truly being eco-friendly has advanced but it has not been easy for those of us (like me – I admit) who aspire to do it seamlessly and without too much bother or deprivation.  The majority of us, I believe, do the best we can.  But hopefully, this information about negative ions, will get you motivated to spend some time with nature today and simply be nourished by it, be grateful for it and meditate amidst its greatness.

 Our thoughts, words and actions can elevate our mood, renew and replenish us.

What we tell ourselves matters.

Where we opt to decompress seems to matter too.



day 78 – Good4uChili

It’s January and the Super Bowl is this Sunday, Feb. 3.  Time to make Chili con Carne or my Vegetarian(add cheese)/Vegan Good4uChili.  Here’s the recipe!

Good 4U Chili

1 Tablespoon vegetable or nut oil                                    Serves 8 – 1 cup serving

2 Cups chopped onions

1 Cup chopped red bell pepper

2-4 chopped cloves of garlic

3 cups vegetable broth

6-8 cups of chopped, Swiss or Rainbow chard (spinach, kale, etc)

1 28 ounce can of diced tomatoes or 2 14.5 cans (Muir’s Organic fire roasted is delicious)

1 Tablespoon ground cumin

1 Tablespoon chili powder

1 Tablespoon dried oregano

1 Tablespoon dried parsley

1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 14.5 ounce can, rinsed and drained or 1 1/2 cups cooked kidney beans

1 14.5 ounce can, rinsed and drained or 1 1/2 cups cooked black beans

1 cup TVP (textured Vegetable protein)

Salt to taste

Optional: Serve with chopped chives or cilantro and Organic Blue Corn Chips.  Add sliced avocados, stir in some corn or brown rice.

  1. Heat Oil in a large pot over medium heat. Sauté onions and pepper until tender, about 3 minutes.  Covering the pot and stirring frequently ensures concentration of flavor and allows you to use less oil because the vegetables are virtually steaming and this is healthier.
  2. Add garlic and stir and cook for about another minute.
  3. Add broth and greens. Bring to a boil, then stir and simmer covered until greens have softened, about 5 minutes.
  4. Add the tomatoes, herbs and spices. Bring to a boil again.  Reduce heat to medium low and cook covered for 15 minutes to blend flavors stirring occasionally.
  5.  Stir in beans and TVP. Taste and season with salt.  Combine well and stir, reduce to a simmer covered for 10 more minutes.  Serve up warm.

Keeps for up to 5 days, refrigerated and can be frozen.

BUEN PROVECHO! (which is Spanish for Bon Appetit!)

Organic produce and even organic spices are your best choice for nutritional value and ecological reasons.  Eating at least one meatless dish per week is environmentally sound and heart/ cancer/disease smart and healthy.

 You can find Textured Vegetable Protein in the grains aisle of your better health stores like Mother’s or Whole Foods.  It is made of soy flour and is high in protein, fiber and minerals. It is also non-fat and has no cholesterol unlike meat. Due to TVP’s resemblance to ground meat and its ease of taking on any flavor, once it is cooked, it is ideal for chili and tomato sauce or other recipes requiring that specific texture.

day 77 – Hemingway and Gellhorn

I don’t know why I hadn’t heard about this 2012 made for TV movie till my daughter watched it during vacation and inferred I might appreciate it for its content and writing.  Luckily, she taped it and over a span of a few interrupted hours I watched it with pen and legal pad in hand.  That’s not how I usually sit down to enjoy a movie but after scribbling great lines taken directly from Hemingway onto my horoscope page from the National Enquirer, I decided to be a critic too and needed more space to write.

How could I not be attracted to this cinematic treasure written by Jerry Stahl and Barbara Turner?  It is yet another story from yet another one of Hemmingway’s influential women.  The Paris Wife by Paula McLain is a novel based on his life with Hadley Richardson in the 1920’s; a must read whether you like this pompous egomaniac with an inferiority complex or not.  They are both women’s life stories. The names have not been changed in either story and it was gratifying to connect the people and events in time; gaining an even clearer picture of this dominant figure in our literary society via the women who loved him but refused to perish into his destructive and abusive labyrinth of alcohol and arrogance which eventually led him to a depressive abyss straight down into suicide.  In both works, intimate details are disclosed, especially about his psyche.  The complexity of his relationships is imparted, his contagious social personality towards male and female, is expressed. The intriguing female in this snippet of time is a writer, a journalist, and a war correspondent, Martha Gellhorn.  My daughter probably remembered how that was my initial career path I dared not and didn’t follow.

The movie spans the Spanish Civil War during the Franco era, Stalin, Japan invading China and WWII.  Historically 1936 – 1946.  Lots of nudity and impassioned, drunken sex scenes are shot between the protagonists – Nicole Kidman and Clive Owen.  I was embarrassed to watch it even alone, but then, I am extremely prudish and modest.  You may find it entertaining.  I squirm.

Everything is solved, resolved or softened with a drink.  Alcohol lubricates every moment of war, afterglow and dispute or celebration.  Everyone smokes.  Everyone parties pretty hard.  It’s the days of Cuba used as a playground with an aversion to the reality of inhuman   atrocity.

It is amazing how they used real film footage and super imposed present day actors onto the screen and made it seamless.  Although, it was a little distracting, too.

Gellhorn’s words spill thoughtfully throughout the film as she narrates.  When she stands on stage in front of an audience that has just viewed the film debut of “The Spanish Earth”, by John Dos Passos and Ernest,  she gives an impromptu declaration that the movie was made in order to “give voice to the voiceless, bear witness to the innocent….”.

And what I thought were great lines from Hemmingway, the philosopher:

“War runs on rumors and lies.”

“You never really know what you are fighting for till you lose.”

“A man can be destroyed but not defeated, if he is still standing, he can fight.”

“Love is infinitely more durable than hate.”

About Gellhorn:  “The woman loves humanity but hates to be around people.”

About writing:   “The important thing for a writer is to tell a good story.”

“There’s nothing to writing.  All you do is sit at your typewriter and bleed.”

About life:

“Get in the ring, see what you are made of.  Start throwing punches for what you believe in.”

Reminding me of the three choices in life from day 73 of my posts… and choosing to commit; ultimately electing to live life with Courage!

day 76 – Duck season

The NHL is back on track! Yea!  The Dux won two out of three of their games so far, lost last night – opening game on Anaheim ice.

Tonight, we are going to go to our first game back after the lockout.  So excited!

Get to wear my heavy clothing, get to socialize with my buddy, S, in between periods and get to root for our Anaheim hockey team!

I can just hear the speakers now, the rumble of the stadium crowd and the lights, colors and the concession food smells!  The sting of bitter cold air on the tip of your nose, the darkened arena before they announce with great fanfare our local team as they come out one by one spotlighted by circles of light.

Ahh, hockey –  graceful ice skating and fighting and penalties and power plays and smacking into the boards, oh my!!!

Wearing my black and gold tonight!!

day 75 – Eating a Raisin Meditation

You will now experience Jon Kabat-Zinn’s famous Raisin Meditation.  If you do not like raisins, use something else.  He is also famous for the classic, never out of style or time book, Wherever You Go, There You Are.

The cultivation of mindfulness has to do with paying attention to things that we don’t ordinarily pay attention to.

Use one raisin, plumped in some water for around an hour in order to soften.  Begin by sitting in an upright position and breathe deeply for three to ten breaths, eyes closed till you are completely relaxed.  Relax your shoulders and neck.  Then, gently open your eyes.

Pick up the raisin and bring the specimen up towards your face for closer inspection.  Drink it in through your eyes. Make believe you have never seen one of these things before and maybe even forget that it is called a raisin.  See it in its fullness.  You have certainly never seen this particular raisin before.  Notice its surface texture, color and shape, as you turn it in your hands – are there any unique features to it?  Notice the circular little scarring at one end.  This is the equivalent of our belly button.  It is evidence that this shriveled up grape was once connected to a much larger whole. 

And now, use your imagination and take it back to this place of origin;  how it grew on a vine and was cared for, how the sun shone on it and heated it, how it was watered and how surely bees visited its flower before it was a grape. Someone planted this vine into fertile soil.  Now picture how someone had to hand pick it.  Then it was carried to storage in order to dry. Think about the route it took to get from vineyard to store, to here, in your hands. Think of all the people and miles that transpired in order to bring it here in this moment into your hand, in front of you. And bless this raisin with gratitude and your attention.  Send it all your love vibrations!

Now close your eyes and feel it with your fingers.  Really get in touch with this object. Notice the ridges and the valleys and maybe even put it into the palm of your hand and feel the heft of it.  Feel its weight.  It has a certain weight to it.

Bring it up to the nose at a certain point – drink in the fragrance- sense anything at all in the domain of smell coming off of this object.  Be in touch with your experience from moment to moment.  Just sense what is here to be smelled, allow the in breath to bring in the aroma if there is any.  Be aware of the quality of the attention that you are bringing to this hugely familiar object.  And stay as best  as you can in this awareness from moment to moment. 

When you are ready,  bring it up to one of your ears and see if you can hear anything, turn it around real close to the ear. Use the hearing sense. Some foods actually do fizzle, crackle or make noises and you may find that this little object may surprise you. 

Then bring it gradually towards the lips, don’t eat it!  Notice that your arm and hand know how to do this. They know how to position it right in the center of your mouth.  When you were around 6 months old, your body didn’t know how to do this.  Whatever you were eating wound up on your face, the floor, all over your body.  Honor how well the gross motor skills and the functioning of the hand and arm can bring this object right up to your lips.  As you do that – notice what is going on in your mouth. 

There is a strong secreting of saliva perhaps and it is clear that there is a certain amount of anticipation – eating is going to start happening fairly soon.  Notice that this object has not come into the mouth yet.  It is the mind that is anticipating eating it.  The body is synthesizing and generating enzymes and fluid to prepare the mouth for this initial step in the process of digestion.

It is a real mind/body phenomenon.

With great sensitivity, slowly bring the raisin to the lips and notice how it comes into the mouth.  Noticing how this whole thing works.  What goes on to bring this object into the mouth?  And then notice how it gets positioned between the teeth.  Pay attention to the role of the tongue in receiving it.  Don’t bite into it yet.  Just hold all of this in awareness, moment by moment. Just feel the intelligence in the tongue, the cheeks, teeth and in the mind that is so well suited for this activity we call eating and we do so many times a day with very little or no awareness.

And then slowly when the raisin is positioned where the mouth wants it to be positioned, slowly start biting down on it and take maybe 3, 4 or 5 deliberate, intentional, mindful chews while you remain open to whatever is going on in the mouth in any of the sensory domains including hearing, tasting and feeling the texture.  Don’t swallow. 

Experience chewing and tasting moment by moment by moment.  Enjoy the direct sensory experience of chewing and tasting.  The teeth come down on this object; notice the taste in the mouth. Notice any changes in the texture and taste as you continue to chew.

Be aware of the intention to swallow. When did it first arise? Whatever is left gets positioned for swallowing; be in touch with swallowing and in the aftermath of swallowing, rest in the awareness of how it feels in this moment as you sit here – follow what you have swallowed down into the belly, where it will come to rest in the stomach and allow your awareness to expand to include a sense of the body as a whole having just eaten one raisin with this kind of present moment, open-hearted spacious attention.  

 Just rest here in this awareness, feeling how things are right now in this moment, in the aftermath of all that’s come before.  Feel how it is in the body, how it is in the mouth, how it is in the heart and how it is in the mind.  Just rest here. You are outside of time, in the present moment, without having to have anything happen next.  The practice here is to be with each moment as it is.  Be the knowing, be that which knows the experience in its unfolding, as it is unfolding and rest here moment by moment by moment.


day 74 – Eating Mindfully

Thich Nhat Hanh said, “The food we eat comes to us from nature, from living beings and from the cosmos.  To touch it with our mindfulness is to show our gratitude.”  Hanh was born in Vietnam in 1926.  He is an engaged Buddhist who teaches peaceful activism, social commitment to helping others and meditation.

I don’t care if you are downing green smoothies, on a liquid fast, chomping and putting away fast food, vegan raw, high protein, any number of commercial diets, counting calories, carbs or fat grams carefully… being able to give thanks and appreciate what we put into our bodily system is being aware in a meditative way and enhances your digestion, the understanding of self and your connection with the Universe.

There is a great book called Mindful Eating: A Guide to Rediscovering a Healthy and Joyful Relationship with Food by Jan Chozen Bays, MD.  In it, she describes our emotional hang-ups with food and how to give our attention to it in a clear-eyed manner.  She includes a CD of meditations and the read is quite relaxing as well.

Do you eat to soothe yourself?  Out of boredom? To procrastinate? To numb your feelings? To socialize and entertain with? To reward or punish yourself?  JOIN the club!

Instead of fueling up with food, we make it the Prima Donna of our lives.  We let it take center stage and revolve around it.  We watch hours of Food TV Network.  We bow and honor to chefs.  Ok, maybe that is just me.

I believe food is cultural and significant, but I have also mismanaged and gone ADD on it.  You may be a balanced individual, but I still strive to maintain decorum and sanity, daily.

Another aspect of this teaching is the spiritual angle; giving grace or at least acknowledging in a practical way, the chain of events that led the food in front of you to end up there is being in the moment and being thankful you are even alive.

I DO love food.  Instead of living to eat, I need to eat in order to live.  Is my companion at lunch more important or where and what we eat?

As I forever fine tune myself and ask the Universe to speak to me, this flagged and highlighted publication of mine from 2009, shouted out to me today from a bookshelf it was hiding in and asked me to reconsider reading it.

If you are a yoga student of mine, you may remember our mindful meditation with a raisin.  It was from John Kabat-Zinn who wrote the foreword in this book.

What are you really hungry for? If it is truly a nutritional need, then feed yourself.  I know I have abused my rations in order to avoid something or to fill up a hole.  And sometimes, just to savor and satisfy my taste buds.

Compassion, my friend, compassion for self.  Yet…“Understanding is the very foundation of love. And looking deeply is the basic practice.” – Thich Nhat Hanh

day 73 – The 3 Choices in Life

Last year, a yoga student of mine suggested I watch an old movie and she lent her DVD copy to me.  It was titled; City of Joy and it starred a young Patrick Swayze.  She had the opportunity to visit India and the actual city it was filmed in. I believe it was Jaipur, but I don’t recall exactly.

There were four distinct motifs that inspired me enough at the time, to write them down.  I just found the note I had written.

The basic tenet of the film was- “It’s not what I have in my life but who I have in my life that counts.”- Anonymous

Another theme was “Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength-while loving someone deeply gives you courage.” – Lao Tzu.  Followers of this ancient wise spiritual paradox believer are called Taoists.

Another quote I took the time to scribble down was “All that is not given is lost.” – Hasari Pal.

But my absolute favorite moment is when the mature, dedicated and overwhelmed woman scolds young, brash and aloof Swayze, angrily admonishes him and states; “There are three choices in life.  You can run, become a spectator or commit.”

That has to be one of the greatest truths ever. You can run, spectate or commit.

I have run.  Sometimes I have just observed. But I will be damned if I don’t commit to myself and others, to be the best possible person I can fathom being, live every moment to its fullest and continue growing spiritually and emotionally; especially now that I am in my fifties and I really don’t know how much time is left and it’s all going so much quicker than before, it seems.

Ask yourself if you run, spectate or commit to your life.

And just a quick technical note: I answer every comment, please look on the right and check on the reply. Thank you.

day 72 – Cilantro

Some people love it. Others say it tastes like soap.  Cilantro, Culantro or Chinese Coriander or just plain Coriander Leaf is an herb I love to have in our winter garden.  It resembles parsley and many cuisines use it to balance the flavor of hot, spicy and acid.  It has flavors of lemon, pine and sage in its leaves and stems.  It is used medicinally as well as in the culinary world.

Dried Coriander seeds have a milder taste and are lemonier than its leaves.  Cilantro bolts or goes to seed quickly if the weather warms so you can harvest the greens and then allow the plant to flower and gift you with seed.

Fresh coriander root tastes nuttier than the seed and can also be harvested and added to spicy protein dishes such as gumbos, jambalayas and stews.

Therefore, all parts of the Coriander plant are edible and in all stages of its life.  This is a very useful and invaluable herb evidently.

Next time you make a Pico de Gallo, salsa, hummus, spicy dish or a salad, sprinkle one to two teaspoons of chopped up leaves and relish the garnish and notice how it pumps up the flavor.

If you live in Southern CA, now is a good time to plant a small specimen or two outdoors (it does fine in a pot) and enjoy snipping off tasty additions to your meals.

A quick, easy and low fat/calorie cilantro pesto to use over fish, in a sandwich or atop a soup:

1 cup packed fresh cilantro

4 scallions or green onions, chopped

1 clove garlic, mashed

2 tablespoons rice or white wine vinegar

3 tablespoons pumpkin seeds

Whir it all together in a blender or food processor till you have a coarse paste.

Add a Serrano chili and pick up the heat or substitute the seeds with peanuts.  Experiment.

Little known facts:

This herb was introduced to China about 600AD.

It is listed among the medicinal plants mentioned in the Papyrus of Thebes, written in 1552 BC!!!!!!