I Don’t Know My Name

It has been years since I’ve watched “America’s Got Talent” but I put it on while I was waiting to hear the results of yesterday’s U.S. election primaries. I cried when I saw this performance last night, and cried even more when I watched it on YouTube a few minutes ago.

Judge Howie Mandel loved her performance so much that he hit the Golden Buzzer which allows her to go directly to the live shows that occur towards the end of the competition.


Visions of the Wise



யாதும் ஊரே யாவரும் கேளிர்
தீதும் நன்றும் பிறர்தர வாரா
நோதலும் தணிதலும் அவற்றோ ரன்ன
சாதலும் புதுவது அன்றே, வாழ்தல்


To us all towns are one, all men our kin,
Life’s good comes not from others’ gifts, nor ill,
Man’s pains and pain’s relief are from within,
Death’s no new thing, nor do our bosoms thrill
When joyous life seems like a luscious draught.
When grieved, we patient suffer; for, we deem
This much-praised life of ours a fragile raft
Borne down the waters of some mountain stream
That o’er huge boulders roaring seeks the plain
Tho’ storms with lightning’s flash from darkened skies.
Descend, the raft goes on as fates ordain.
Thus have we seen in visions of the wise !
We marvel not at the greatness of the great;
Still less despise we men of low estate.


When do you think this profound poem was written?





The poem was created by Kaniyan Poongundran, a Tamil philosopher during the Sangam period (3rd century BC to the 4th century AD). It was published in the Purananuru  in 192 A.D.


Arrow Photo Credit: Wikimedia

The YouShare Project



One morning during my last trip to Amritapuri, India, I woke up to find this notification on my blog:

Dear Karuna,

My name is Ashlee. I’m co-founder of the YouShare Project, with the mission to connect people around the world through true, personal stories. I recently stumbled across your blog and read the above post entitled “Tearing at the Fabric of Racism.” It’s honest, beautifully written, and incredibly compelling. I think it would make a wonderful YouShare, because it offers a personal glimpse into a time that younger generations only hear about and usually through the lens of third party history books and documentaries. It’s always important to look back in time as a means for moving forward, and I think your story is especially important in today’s racially tense climate.

If this sounds interesting to you, I would love to email you directly with more information and formally invite you to share your story with the project. You have my email address and website. I hope to hear from you soon.


I was intrigued by Ashlee’s request and opened her website. I learned that the project was started by Nick and Ashlee Blewett who believe that “exploring different perspectives—and embracing our commonalities as well as our differences—is the only way for humanity to reach our full potential.”

This is their vision for the YouShare Project:

“To create a more conscious and thoughtful global societyby publishing personal stories from people around the world.”

“Each of us has an individual story, our own personal narrative of events and experiences that shape our personalities, our opinions and biases, the way we dress and act, and the customs and traditions in which we take part. Stepping outside of our personal bubbles to explore different perspectives and engage in meaningful dialogue enriches our lives and cultivates a more conscious and thoughtful society.”

I read through many of the stories on the blog and found them to be very inspiring.  I was also impressed by the wide variety of  topics.

I was delighted to share my Tearing at the Fabric of Racism post with them and have enjoyed reading many of their posts since then.  I hope some of you decide to check out their project.  And while you are at it, consider submitting one of your own life stories!

Thank you Nick and Ashlee for providing such an important service to the world.


Challenge for Growth Prompts: First Month’s Summary

20150726_193653The first Challenge for Growth Prompt was published on January 6, 2016.  Since then there have been three more.  I realize many of you may not have seen the posts that were written by those who participated, so have decided to publish a summary at the end of each month.  I hope you enjoy reading them.

I give thanks to all of you who contributed to some or all of January’s challenges, whether it was by publishing a post, by reading the posts published by others or by reading and thinking about the challenge topics.

Know that everyone is still welcome to write posts for any of these challenges.  If you decide to do that, I will add your contribution to the appropriate challenge page and to the monthly summary.

Challenge for Growth Prompt #1: Needs vs Wants

The Bliss We Seek- The Seeker’s Dungeon

2016 Needs- Self Therapy

Needs vs Wants (Haibun)- Traces of the Soul

Resolve- Dream Cloud Diaries

Compassion’s Desires (Haibun)- Tournesol dans un Jardin

Are My Trips to Amritapuri Fulfilling a Need or a Want?- Living, Learning and Letting Go

The Needing Want- Nik’s Place

Needs vs Wants- Journey of a Warrior Womyn


Challenge for Growth Prompt #2: Looking for the Good in Others

On Humans and Humanity- The Seeker’s Dungeon

Today I look for the good qualities in others- Journey of a Warrior Womyn

There is No “Other”- Living, Learning and Letting Go

Khuśiyōm Kī Bahār- Living, Learning and Letting Go

Through the Shadows- Nik’s Place

finding the light side (free verse)- Traces of the Soul

Challenge for Growth Prompt #2- Annette’s Place


Challenge for Growth Prompt #3: Learning to Be

What Does It Mean to Be? – Living, Learning and Letting Go

Painting Our Illusions- Where Love Meets War

Failure to Be- Nik’s Place

Being Her True Self- Traces of the Soul

Learning to Be- Journey of a Warrior Womyn


Challenge for Growth Prompt #4: Think Before Saying Yes or No

The Making of Yes- Nik’s Place

And to the World I Say- Where Love Meets War

Why Do We Behave the Way We Do?- Living, Learning and Letting Go


The next challenge will be posted at 5:00 a.m. (PST) tomorrow!

1970: My Summer as a Migrant Farm Laborer #6 Series End (Pennsylvania and Washington State)

Migrant worker- me!

After Brenda and I left New York City, we drove to Pennsylvania. We spent the day looking for work and finally found a job, on trial, for $1.50 an hour. The housing they provided was for men so we stayed in a campground.

The owner was very unsure about hiring girls but we turned out to be better pickers than the teenage boys he employed. Since he paid by the hour, they did as little work as they could get away with.

We picked peaches and nectarines for four days. One day we also worked in the evening in the packing house. The other nights I was asleep by 7:30 p.m.

I was amused by something that happened on this job. The owner was moderately conservative; very conservative about some things. Little did he know that he had a gigantic field of marijuana growing on the edge of his orchard.  There were also marijuana plants scattered throughout his orchard. The kids spent more time harvesting the marijuana than they did picking his fruit. They thoroughly enjoyed THAT work!

If he only knew……..

After leaving Pennsylvania we drove on to Yakima in Washington State. Once there, we found a job with no problem; a job picking fuzzy peaches yet again!

Finding housing in Yakima was much more difficult because the state had condemned all housing that didn’t have a toilet, running water, stove and refrigerator. Most farmers couldn’t afford to provide for that level of accommodation, so there was almost no housing available.

Local people rented their yards to the migrants, at a rate of $5 a night. That seemed to us to be a big racket, especially since most of the workers and their families slept in their cars. [Note: As I think how little money we earned on these jobs, I’m realizing what a big chunk of it that $5 would have taken.]

We finally found a place to live. It was somewhat like a motel. Having a room that had a stove and a bathroom felt like unbelievable luxury!

We picked peaches for four days. We were paid the same wages in Washington State as everywhere else.

My college roommate visited us while we were there and for two days the three of us studied together for our nursing licensing exams.


One day, when we were driving around, we saw this new living area for migrant farm laborers.


I also found the bridge I had slept under when I had gone to Yakima to pick fruit while I was in college.



After our time in Yakima, we returned to Seattle.  I ended my summer adventure with this scrapbook entry.


I had been surprised by the amount of racism we experienced that summer.  After all, it was 1970 not 1950.  Brenda and I decided we should share our story with others.  We contacted a local newspaper and gave them an interview. This is the article the newspaper published. (My name at that time was Carol Smith!)


In the article, I said that in the future I wanted to spend a summer with one migrant group.  While I never did that, my 1970 experience has stayed very close to my heart for the last 45 years.

With that statement, this series now comes to an end. Thank you for sharing my journey with me.  I hope that you enjoyed it and had a sense of what our life was like as we crossed the country in 1970 working as migrant farm laborers.


To read the previous posts in this series go to:

1970: My Summer as a Migrant Farm Laborer (Series Intro)
1970: My Summer as a Migrant Farm Laborer #1  (Seattle to Florida)
1970: My Summer as a Migrant Farm Laborer #2 (Atlanta International Pop Festival)
1970: My Summer as a Migrant Farm Laborer #3 (Working in Georgia)
1970: My Summer as a Migrant Farm Laborer #4 (Working in South Carolina)

1970: My Summer as a Migrant Farm Laborer #5 (Maryland and New Jersey)

शन्त्याः श्वेतपुष्पाणि (White Flowers of Peace)



अम्मा वदति ध्याने श्वेतपुष्पाणि आकाशात् वर्षन्ति पश्यतु इति
Amma says: “During meditation, see white flowers raining from the sky.”

श्वेतपुष्पाणि सर्वम् आच्छादयन्ति
The white flowers are covering everything

लोकाय तानि शन्तिम् आनयन्ति
They bring peace for the world


सर्वानि एतानि श्वेतपुष्पाणि आम्बायाः अमृतपुर्याम् आश्रमे सन्ति
All of these white flowers are in Amma’s Amritapuri ashram.

Memories from the 60’s

Today is the 52nd anniversary of President Kennedy’s assassination.  At the time, I was fifteen-years-old and was living at Ft. Shafter army base in Honolulu, Hawaii.  Months before he was murdered, President Kennedy had visited Hawaii and I had gone to the parade.  I have treasured this picture ever since then.

President Kennedy

Prior to moving to Hawaii, I had lived at White Sands Missile Range army base in New Mexico.  As the result of President Kennedy’s fitness challenge, the high school students from the base walked the 27 miles to Las Cruces.

I was too young to participate in that walk but I was definitely inspired by it and hoped to do something like it in the future.  I was also excited when President Kennedy started the Peace Corps and AmeriCorps VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America).  I was so proud to be an American.

His death in 1963, followed in 1968 by the deaths of Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy, was quite a blow to my idealism.   As crushing as those memories are, I feel blessed to have been alive during that time.  And all three of them will always serve as role models for me.


Note:  This is not a photograph I took myself.  I have no memory of how I obtained it since it wouldn’t have been available at the time of the parade.  I suspect that I purchased it, or it was given to me, soon after the experience.