Shocking Revelation

I am still reeling from some information I received today. It just occurred to me to look and see if today’s Daily Prompt would fit for this situation.  Revelation is perfect!

For the last month, I’ve been looking forward to taking a Plant Identification course that was offered to Forest Stewards and other volunteers who work in Seattle’s reforestation projects. When I arrived at the class today, I discovered most of the students had been Forest Stewards for a long time and the others had at least some experience in plant identification. I, on the other hand, only know a few of these native plants.

Last month, Ananya and I had to choose the trees, shrubs and ground covers that we will be planting in our group’s Greenbelt site the end of October. We ordered nearly 400 plants. In the course of today’s class, I learned that those plants will be delivered to us unmarked. Not only that, most will be in their winter state so we may have only a twig to use for identification.


The need for me to learn to identify our plants has certainly taken on a new intensity. As I sat down to write this post, though, a couple of other thoughts came to my mind. When we ordered the plants, we had to order in quantities of 10. We ordered 10 for some varieties and 20 for others. So even though we will have to identify 400 plants, there will only be 26 different types. That seems doable.  Also, sometime prior to October we will have the opportunity to take a Winter Twig class. I will make taking that class a priority.

I am sure glad that I learned this information today, rather than discovering it when the plants are delivered. I can do it. I can do it. I can do it. I can do it. I can do it. Yes I can. Yes I can. Yes I can. Yes I can. And I don’t have to do it alone! Ananya and I will do it together and if we need help we will get it.

my fault

Rara is an incredibly creative writer, author, and poet. She spreads love and wisdom with every blog-post. She also models being accountable for her thoughts, words, actions and attitudes. I encourage you to read her most recent poem, and to explore her blog.

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!

Living and Learning in Amritapuri (Dec 18-21, 2015)

Photo Credit: Amma’s Facebook Page


post-milestone-500-2xThis is the 500th post I’ve published since I started this blog in March 2014! I like that it is a “Living and Learning in Amritapuri” post that gets that distinction.


Paint doesn’t last a long time here, probably because we are so close to the Arabian Sea. I imagine the salt water breaks it down. This is one of the years that the front of the temple is being repainted. The work is so intricate and temple becomes even more beautiful when it is freshly painted. I don’t take photos on the ashram grounds unless they are nature oriented but you can see what I’m talking about in this picture.  I particularly wish you could see the horses clearly.  If you zoom in you will be able to see more.


Christmas Play

I’ve been meaning to tell you about something that happened during the second week I was here. On one of the first play rehearsals, I walked into the room where the practice was being held, only to find Jesus sitting by the door meditating. I was startled; the experience was so surreal. It, of course, only took seconds to realize that it was the woman playing Jesus in the play but it felt so real for that brief moment. None of the other actors wear their costumes during the rehearsals, but I soon discovered she always does. It not only helps her get into character, but, I think, it also helps everyone get into the spirit of the play.

[Note: Traditionally in India the actors are either all men or all women. That used to be true in the plays offered by the ashram Westerner’s too, but over the years there have been more and more men in our plays. Some women still play men’s roles though.]

Yesterday was the dress rehearsal for all of the women and children. There are seven very young children who were wearing sheep costumes. They were SOOOOOOO cute. I expect to have pictures to share with you after the play.

Only a few more days until Christmas Eve, the night the musical will be performed!

Tai Chi

I am so loving this process. I am able to reach a meditative place that I haven’t been able to reach since the mid 90’s. I look forward to finding a Tai Chi teacher when I get back to Seattle.

Often there is a man practicing Kung Fu near where we practice Tai Chi. It seems like they have similar origins since they share a lot of the same moves, but the Kung Fu seems so violent compared to the gentle movements of the Tai Chi. Both are beautiful in their own way.

The fishermen are usually out in the sea when we have the morning class. One day this week, the men had their boats pulled up on the beach and they were working on the nets. I noticed a lot of the boats and the supplies were stored on the beach the next day, so I took some pictures.


My next door neighbor helps care for the ashram dogs when they aren’t with Amma.  As a result, Bhakti, is frequently in or near her room. Bhakti is well loved at the ashram and is welcomed wherever she goes. Last year, I was amazed when I watched Bhakti wait for the elevator on the ground level, get on it when the door opened, and then get off when it arrived at our floor.  Somehow she knew her second home was there.

Photo Credit:
Photo Credit:

Ants, Mosquitoes, Rain

If a moth dies during the night or if I drop some food on the ground, then a trail of ants usually comes. I discovered many years ago that it is generally possible for me to get the ants out of my room without killing them. If they are on a wall, I put some water in my hand and wetten the wall near the area where they seem to be going. When they get close to the water, they turn around and go back to wherever they came from. It even looks like they “talk” with their friends because the ants that are coming towards the wet area turn around and join the others when they see them going the other way.

There don’t seem to be many mosquitoes here this year. That has never happened before. I noticed it the other day but since mosquitoes usually don’t  bother me, I thought maybe I was wrong. Yesterday, a long term resident mentioned the lack of mosquitoes to me, so at least some other people have that belief too.

It has continued to rain almost every day; often very hard rain. Most years there is no rain when I am here in December so this is a marked change.  I assume the rain is the result of climate change; could the reduced number of mosquitoes be too?  I think mosquitoes are another “pest” for me to research so maybe you will see an “Interesting Facts about Mosquitoes” post someday!

Lessons, Lessons, Lessons

I wrote the above part of this post last night before I went to bed (it is 13 ½ hours later in India than the U.S. so it is Tuesday morning here now.) When I finished, I had the feeling/thought/sense/belief that I hadn’t had much to share this year and hoped that the pictures I’ve put up have made my posts valuable to others. Even as I had those thoughts, I knew that my perception was probably off because of the comments I have received from people after reading my posts.

This morning I woke up realizing that I actually have been bombarded by lessons, leelas, tests, and experiences. Yes I am feeling hot, tired, run down emotionally and physically, but that, in part, is a side effect of the purification and learning processes that I am undergoing.

So if I look at things from that perspective I have more to say!

    • My steady stream of “losing” things has slowed down considerably but not stopped. Everything that I had lost has “come back” except for the archana book. Many years ago when I was in a stream of losing things, I was so disturbed by it that I ended up deciding to see a psychologist. I wanted to rule out early onset Alzheimer’s and Multiple Personality Syndrome. Neither of those diagnoses seemed warranted but I wanted to hear that from a professional. The psychologist told me is that neither disease was present, but that my unconscious mind had found a fool proof way to get my attention. That was, and is, definitely the truth. I don’t think much else shakes me up as much as not being able to find things that should be easy to find.
    • There are a lot of people who have flats here and live alone.  To make sure no one is sick in their room without anyone knowing about it, we have to initial a paper first thing in the morning. Someone is assigned to check the room of anyone who has not signed in.  Going to each person’s room takes them considerable time and effort.  Generally, even though I have the best intentions, I forget to sign in three or four times during a trip.  One day last week, I was headed downstairs to sign the paper and was congratulating myself for not having missed a single day this time.  Imagine my surprise when I returned to my room later in the day and found a paper saying the person had come to check on me since I hadn’t initialed the paper.  I must have become distracted on my way downstairs.  A lesson in pride, not being present, and removal of ego I think.
    • The auditorium here has no closed sides and is huge. The west part of it is used for dining room seating for the Western Café and Western Canteen and the east part is used for dining room seating for the Indian food line. (Anyone can eat at any of these places, but the type of food served is different for each.) There has been an ongoing problem with Westerners taking the dishes from the café and canteen to their rooms to eat. That results in a constant loss of dishes. Even though the dishes may ultimately be brought back, during the time they are in private rooms they are unavailable for the cafe/canteen to use. One day this week, I came downstairs to discover that the whole dining area had been roped off and there is a closed line of tables against the ropes. The only entrance to the dining area is now on the west side of the hall. During the meal serving, someone is posted by the exit to stop people from leaving with the dishes. If they want to take their food to their rooms, there are bowls, plates and spoons available for purchase for 10-60 rupees (15 cents to $1). It used to be possible to walk through the auditorium and dining area as a short cut to many places in the ashram so I’m finding the change to be a big nuisance although I can see that the new system is working very well and is needed. I realize it is an opportunity to work on staying even minded and to surrender personal comfort for the higher good.
    • During the last two days, in my perception, my daughter and son were inundated with challenges. When that happens the mother bear in me comes out in force (“Mess with me but don’t mess with my kids”) and probably disrupts my piece of mind more than anything else. I know those lessons are important opportunities for them to learn as well as a chance for me to practice letting go and letting them have their own experiences, but it isn’t easy.

This list could go on and on but I’m going to stop. I think you can see why when people ask how my vacation was I say, or at least think, that it wasn’t a vacation. This is hard work. But I know the results are well worth going through the discomfort. I am learning and growing in a multitude of ways.

When I was looking for pictures for this post I saw the quote I put at the beginning. It seemed very relevant to what I had just written. Thank you Amma for helping me eliminate my ego so that the love inside of me can emerge.


To read the earlier posts in this series go to:

Interesting Facts About Termites

Damage to a nest of Formosan subterranean termites brings hoards of workers and soldiers with dark, oval shaped heads scrambling to repair the hole. Termites shown about 4 times actual size. USDA photo by Scott Bauer.
Wikimedia photo by Scott Bauer

In a previous post, I mentioned that I wanted to learn more about termites.  They are as fascinating as I assumed they would be.  Here is some of the facts I discovered:

  • There are more than 3000 varieties of termites.
  • Termites work 24 hours a day 7 days a week.
  • If you calculated the weight of all of the termites in the world and the weight of all humans, the termites would weigh more.
  • Termites eat dead plant materials and cellulose in wood, leaves, soil, animal dung, etc. They are considered to be a pest when they are in our houses because of the damage they cause by eating the wood.
  • They are important to the environment because they are decomposers. They aerate and improve the quality of soil.
  • Termites have been around for 300 million years.
  • They descended from an ancestor that was similar to a cockroach.
  • New kings and queens have wings. The wings are needed in order for the pair to find and build their colony. Once the colony is established, the king and queen break off their wings and begin to reproduce.
  • Termite kings and queens stay together for life. The king helps the queen in raising their young .
  • The video below says that the queen may live for 15 years and during that time she will lay more than 164 million eggs. (One article I read said the queen may live 50 years.)
  • Termite workers and soldiers are sterile. The workers build and maintain the nest and take care of the king and queen. The soldiers defend the nest.
  • Both the workers and the soldiers are blind since they live in the dark and don’t need eyes.  (The king and queen need eyes to pick the location for their nest.)
  • The termites communicate with each other using pheromones, a chemical scent. They talk to each other in this way as well as leave trails to guide other workers. The soldiers communicate danger by banging their heads against the walls of the nest.
  • The size of a termite colony can vary from hundreds of termites to millions.
  • Cleanliness is important to termites.  They spend a lot of time grooming each other.

I found this interesting two minute YouTube video about a termite queen and her attendants.

You can read more about termites in these articles:

10 Fascinating Facts about Termites



Termites- Insects That Eat Wood

Termites, Order Isoptera


Stepping Out of My Comfort Zone

Photo Credit: Wikimedia

These were the instructions for this week’s Dungeon Prompt:

This week, let’s step out of our blogging boxes and shake things up. If you normally write poetry try writing prose. Or if you normally write freestyle poetry, try writing a sonnet. If you normally write in the first person, write in the third person instead. If you normally write about other people, write about yourself. If you normally write a hundred words, try writing eight hundred. If you normally write over a thousand words, try writing a haiku (without a thousand words of explanation).

I had no doubt which form of writing is out of my comfort zone; it is writing poetry.  I thought about it for a short time and then concluded that this might be the week that I didn’t participate in Dungeon Prompts.  When I shared that conclusion with my blogging friend Cheryl-Lynn at Traces of the Soul, she suggested I write a Tanka. Continue reading “Stepping Out of My Comfort Zone”

Sanskrit Homework- September 2015

Photo Credit: Wikimedia
Photo Credit: Wikimedia

Every week our homework in my Sanskrit class is to write five to ten sentences in Sanskrit.  To accomplish that I pick a theme, compose the sentences in English and then translate them into Sanskrit.

Sometimes I publish my homework on my blog. This is one of those weeks!

Generally I don’t show the direct translation in my posts. I included it this time because I thought it might be interesting for you to see that the structure of Sanskrit sentences is not the same as we use when we write in English.  Notice also that the Sanskrit meaning is generally more poetic than the direct English translation.


प्रतिजनस्य जीवनं महत्त्वपूर्णं अस्ति ।
Direct translation: Every person’s life important is.
Meaning: Every person’s life is important.

प्रतिजनः विश्वाय योगदानं करोति ।
Direct translation: Every person for world contribution makes.
Meaning: Every person makes a contribution to the world.

युध्दं मा भवतु ।
Direct translation: War no be.
Meaning: May there be no war.

प्रतिजनाय पर्याप्तं आहारं भवतु ।
Direct translation: Every person enough food be.
Meaning: May every person have enough food.

प्रतिजन: प्रसन्नः भवतु ।
Direct translation: Every person happy be.
Meaning: May every person be happy.

प्रतिजनः अन्यान् गौरवेण पश्यतु ।
Direct translation: Every person others with respect see.
Meaning: May every person look at others with respect.

शान्तिः शान्तिः शान्तिः
Peace, Peace, Peace

Weekly Photo Challenge: Connected Through Our Love of Sanskrit

Last month, I attended a three day Sanskrit immersion family camp being held at Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington.  The camp was sponsored by Samskrita Bharati (संस्कृतभारती), an international organization that is “devoted to the mission of popularizing Sanskrit as a spoken language, and, thereby, engendering a cultural renaissance through rejuvenation of this language which holds the key to the unfoldment of India’s rich cultural heritage and knowledge.”

This was the fourth year I had attended their summer workshop.  I loved being with the faculty and students I had met in previous years, as well having the opportunity to meet the new students.  I felt very connected to everyone; connected through our love of Sanskrit.

A few days ago, I found a photo of the students and faculty who attended this year’s camp on the Seattle Samskrita Bharati Facebook page.  I don’t think you will have any trouble spotting me! 🙂

Samskrita Bharati

Written for Weekly Photo Challenge: Connected

Playing with Filters

I love the true beauty of nature so much that I almost never think of using the filters.  Today I decided to take one of my favorite photos from this season and see what it would look like if I applied filters to it.

The Original Photo
The Original Photo
Yester color
Yester Color
Focal Black and White
Focal Black and White
Focal Zoom
Focal Zoom

That was fun!  And a good reminder to use the filters from time to time.  Which filtered pictures do you like best?

Perfection is Not the Goal!

“We can be redeemed only to the extent to which we see ourselves.”
Martin Buber

I have a tendency to mull over past mistakes. I am even more likely to do that when I have made mistakes that hurt my children in some way. There are times I still cringe when I think of ways I treated them during their childhood and teenage years.

It is true that I, like most parents, did the best I could even though I didn’t have the knowledge or skills to do a perfect job of parenting. And like most parents, I was often too tired and worn down to always do the right thing. I have no doubt that I was a “good enough parent” but when I am “in my stuff” I expect myself to have been perfect.

For me, redemption comes when I see how they are in the world as adults. Sreejit is 40 years old and has lived in Amma’s California or India ashram since he was 19. He is committed to his spiritual path and to serving the world by supporting Amma’s charitable projects. He does this by being one of the main cooks for the Western Canteen in Amma’s Amritapuri ashram. In addition, he is a gifted musician, author, song writer, blogger and poet.

Chaitanya is 37 years old and has lived in Amma’s Amritapuri ashram since her 21st birthday. She too is avidly committed to her spiritual path and to supporting Amma in any way possible. She is a born leader, responsible for managing Amritapuri’s Western Canteen and Café. In addition, she is a gifted writer, director and choreographer of Broadway style musicals.  When people need support, they often seek her out.

Both of them are loved and respected by all who know them; and they are wise beyond their years. I have had numerous people tell me “If you ever question that you have done things right (in life), all you need to do is take a look at your kids.”

Both Chaitanya and Sreejit have told me how valuable it was for them to have had the life experiences they had as they were growing up. I regularly see them using knowledge, skills, and attitudes that have their roots in things they learned from their dad and me. They took those teachings and then developed them as they became the people they are today.

As Buber said, “We can be redeemed only to the extent to which we see ourselves.” When mistakes I made in the past come to mind, I need to remind myself to look at the bigger picture. My children learned from any mistakes I made and are better people because of them. My being perfect would not have even been in their best interest. I only need to look at the “fruit of my actions” to know I was a good parent!


Written for Dungeon Prompts: Redemption Song