Always Looking for Role Models

As I age, I find myself drawn to older people who can serve as role models in the aging process. I met a woman in Amritapuri whom I think of in that way. She lives a life of adventure even though she is well into her 70’s. The woman in this video is a very different kind of role model. I don’t see myself following in her footsteps, but I thoroughly enjoyed the video. I hope you do too.

A Job Proposal for Al

23 pounds of cigarette butts

When I picked this title, I wanted something that would grab Al (my ex-husband)’s attention  and the attention of everyone who knows him. I think the content will also be of interest to others who read my blog.

When Amma’s Seattle satsang began the PNW Litter Project in 2011, we focused on general litter pick up. Before long, King County Parks Department hired us to pick up cigarette butts in various county parks. At the time the Parks Department was doing research to determine how big a problem cigarette butts were.

The Seattle arm of the Pacific Northwest project kept the cigarette butt focus even after our “job” with the county was over. Cigarette butts are way more toxic than you might think. They are NOT made of cotton, they are made of cellulose acetate tow, which is a form of plastic, and they can take decades to degrade. Investigators in a San Diego State University study once discovered that if you put fathead minnows and top smelt in a liter of water that also contains a single cigarette butt, half of the fish will die.

Our group still does a yearly cigarette butt pick up in the international district in Seattle. Any butts we collect are sent to TerraCycle to be recycled into plastic pallets and other plastic products. Sending them to TerraCycle keeps the butts out of the landfill and the water. It also keeps them out of the stomachs of birds, fish and other animals. Our group has sent 341,224 cigarette butts to TerraCycle.

Al has been part of the Litter Project since it began. In the early days, he and I would meet near his International District apartment and pick up litter on weekends. He would also participate in the bigger work parties.

In the early days, our group counted the butts, but we stopped doing that when we started sending them to TerraCycle. TerraCycle uses a formula based on weight to determine the numbers of butts we sent them. In the first photo below, Al and I were counting the butts at the end of a work party.

Al is also known for feeding the birds in his neighborhood, including the crows. That brings me to the reason for writing this post. I saw this intriguing video the other day and thought this kind of crow training might be a natural fit as a volunteer job for you Al. 😉

These crows were picking up both litter and cigarette butts. A longer version of the video commented that people shouldn’t try it on their own, the crows should be trained by an experienced trainer. So maybe it isn’t your job of the future Al, but it is an intriguing idea!

(In writing this, I wondered if holding the butts in their beaks could harm the crows. I hope not.)

Heavenly Creatures

Sreejit’s Friday reflections are getting more profound every week. This is my favorite of them all.

The Seeker's Dungeon

When I was 16, my guru gave me the name Sreejit and I immediately went to the courthouse to change it legally. Everyone in my school knew the reason for the change, so I didn’t have to explain it. When I joined the workforce, people would constantly ask me where my name came from and I wouldn’t want to go into the details because that would require a longer, deeper discussion. I hated the presumptuous question of, what is my real name, because that would require and even longer and even deeper discussion. They were asking a simple question and I developed a simple answer for it. “My Dad is black and my mother is Indian,” I would say. “Oh cool,” they would say. A simple question, a simple half-truth and we’d all move on.

As we call our guru, Amma, or mother, it wasn’t a full lie, but was…

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Videos: Awe-Inspiring, Fun, and/or Beautiful

I’ve watched more videos than normal lately- ones that weren’t political for a change. I decided to share three of them with you.

Awe-Inspiring– wish I had seen this one 40+ years ago!

Fun- This video was Seattle Police Department’s response to a lip sync challenge from officers in Virginia.

Beautiful: A friend sent me this one earlier today.

A Treasure for Me

I laughed when I saw that today’s Daily Prompt is Chuckles. I also thought of the old saying “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.” That is exactly how I feel about dandelions this time of year.

Two days ago, I saw this strip of dandelions near my home. It was at least 50 feet long and maybe more. Throughout the winter, I have been going to the grocery store to pick up lettuce that is going to be discarded. I feed it to the worms in my vermicomposting bins. The worms seem to be losing their enthusiasm for the lettuce, but they love the fresh dandelion greens.

The problem with the dandelions in this field is that it is part of light rail property and is completely fenced in. I have no way to access it, so I have to be satisfied with using the dandelions in my yard and the few that are on the street side of the fence.

Even though I know that it is important for me to focus on what I have, rather than what I don’t have, I have no doubt that I will still look longingly at the treasure that is beyond my grasp whenever I pass this field.

Daily Prompt: Squat

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Photo Credit: Wikimedia

I laughed when I saw that the Daily Prompt for today was “Squat.” My laughter was because it reminded me of something that happened in the 90’s.

First I will give some back story. When I first started going to Amma’s Amritapuri, India ashram in January of 1990, all of the toilets were squat toilets. I found them uncomfortable to use. My balance was shaky and as far as I was concerned they were just plain weird. Over the years, I became more used to them but I still didn’t like them, and I internally grumbled about them a lot.

Eventually, I became irritated by my own negativity. By then I had learned Byron Katie’s process for addressing negative judgments. At one point in her process you create “turnarounds” for a negative judgment and then examine the turnarounds to see if there is any truth in them. For example, if my belief is “Susan is angry with me”, the turnarounds would be “I am angry with me” or “I am angry with Susan.” The belief “My boss should listen to me more” could be turned around to say “I should listen to me more” or “I should listen to my boss more.”

One day in the mid-90’s, the familiar thought, “I hate Indian toilets,” ran through my mind. A voice within me said, “Now turn it around.” My immediate response was that the turnaround would be “I love Indian toilets.” That statement was so unacceptable to me that I wouldn’t even entertain the possibility that there could be truth in it. Then another sentence came to mind. “I love to hate Indian toilets!” That turnaround sent me into laughter and my energy shifted completely.

As the the years went by, most of the toilets in the ashram became toilets that combine the two styles, but once I had accepted the belief that “I love to hate Indian toilets,” I no longer had the strong negative reaction to them. Even today, I smile when I recall that long-ago incident.

Microscopic Views of Popcorn!

Two weeks ago, my friend Kathie from ChosenPerspectives sent me a link to a YouTube video, along with a note saying that she thought I would enjoy seeing it.

She was right, I did like the video and watching it gave me an idea; I would find out what popcorn looks like under a microscope. In order to do that I had to buy some popcorn. I, of course, wanted it to be popcorn that I would also enjoy eating, so I chose a bag of kettle corn.

Over the next few days, I nibbled at the popcorn, not stopping until the bag was empty. When it was gone, I bought another bag. At least this time I set up the microscope and took the photos before I finished the popcorn.

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Lighten Up!

It has been said that laughter is the best medicine. I believe there is truth in that statement. It certainly helps us in lightening up, if we engage in activities that make us laugh.

There were two scenes in the recent Amritapuri play that made me laugh out loud. The songs that accompanied the scenes were also funny.

In one scene, a group of very young children dressed up as pigs.

During the finale,  one of the “piggies” got so excited that she started jumping very high. The crowd loved it.

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Here is the funny song that went with the scene.

The other scene that brought laughter was very different. It was the scene when Matthew, the prodigal son, reached the lowest part of his despair. He had lost all of his belongings and was working for a man in exchange for food.

While his life situation was in no way funny, the song that went with it, and the way the actor played the role, made it a very funny scene. As a psychotherapist, I know when we are feeling down, if we start talking about the situation in really grandiose, i.e. exaggerated “Poor me” terms, we may start laughing. To me this song and scene are a good example of that. While I can’t show you the video, I can share the “Poor, Poor Me” song in addition to the photos above.

I know that listening to these songs and looking at the pictures will help me lighten up when I am feeling mopey and victimy in the future. I hope they do the same for you.

To see all of the posts in this Amritapuri series, click here.