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Art & Culture

Bajre Da Sitta (Heart Activation Music)

Bajra-de-Sitta-social-card

It’s been a week of constant creativity between Amy & myself (spirit guide & incarnate) as we have created another new song. This song, titled “Bajre Da Sitta” is filled with a happy, foot tapping and vibrant vibe that will want you to grab a sash and start twirling around.

When creating this song, I wasn’t aware at the time that I was sitting with the Ascended Master Lord Maitreya. Nor did I realise that “Bajre Da Sitta” is actually a very popular wedding song.

The Lyrics & Meaning

The song lyrics are said to be in Punjabi and a discussion on Facebook indicates that it could be in Hindi, either way, they’re catchy and you can sing along as here they are;

Bajra de sitta, Bajra de sittam ve asan tali te maroriya. Rutra jaanda maiya, rutra jaanda maiya we asa gali wich moreya. Bajre de sitta

Earlier above, I mentioned that I didn’t realise that it was a famous wedding anthem and I also had no idea what the lyrics mean either. After a few searched on Google, there were some interesting results (that’s how I know it is a wedding song). This is the English translation of the lyrics.

Just like I twist a cob of millet between my palms I made my angry lover return using my charms

I began to wonder why this song, that is is all about farming be a wedding anthem. In Australia, we have some very interesting songs as wedding anthems, so who knew and when I put the question out, this is the response that I got.

The Punjabi community are traditionally an agrarian community contributing hugely in agriculture to India’s economy. The entire culture, customs and songs as well as the wedding element involve references to crops, cyclical seasons, farming and the fields – Rosanne D.

So the history of the song originates from a farming community, just like Jimmy Barnes’ “Working Class Man” which is about staunch, honest people that work hard and care.

Then when staring at the English translation of the lyrics. This song is actually about the love and charm woman have. The lover of this woman is angry and as they are filled with beautiful love, strength and charm. All she needs to do is be her true self and her lover lets go of the anger, returns to himself and is the beautiful & loving man that she loves and adores.

Is it safe to say that this song is actually about the beauty of the divine feminine?

Throw away the project?

During the creation of the song, I really had no idea that it was going to turn out the way that it has. I came close to throwing the project away. The sounds weren’t working together, the synths sounded wrong, the viola just didn’t blend and everything sounded wrong.

I heard the words “Keep Going” so I obeyed.

This song has actually turned out to be fantastic! There are so many elements of music that come from all around the world. Elements such as; Spanish Guitars, Punjabi Vocals, Arabic Drums, European Cello and the rest. Not to mention that it includes the consciousness of a Tibetan Monk, an Angelic helper, Buddhist/Hindu Lord/Deity and an African Woman posing on the cover image whilst being made by an Australian producer.

This creation, this song is a demonstration that we’re all one, that we ARE one, that there is no separation in both physicality and spirituality!

The Energies within the song

As mentioned above, the one known as Lord Maitreya kept coming through, not just during the creation of the project but it led up a few days prior to sitting down to make the creation. I thought to myself, it would be beautiful to sit down and make a creation with Lord Maitreya.

Yesterday, (19th of April 2017), I was in the process of creating a “Microphone to the Universe” crystals with the accompanying track “Journey into Oneness” and asked whom else would we should add to this meditation track. The person responded with “Kryon” and thought, what a wonderful experience to do so and he express his gratitude and honour to be included in the “Heart Activation Music” so the energies of Kryon from Magnetic Service were added to this song as well.

Having created a song with the beautiful Djwahl Kuhl prior to this, I began noticing that this song is filled with Divine Masculine energies and it was absolutely appropriate to add this loving energy into the song as well.

This also includes the binaural frequency of 33 Hz Gamma Waves Isochronic Tones which is the frequency for Christ Consciousness, Hypersensitivity, Pyramid, Schumann Resonance frequency

 

The Heart Activation Music

The Heart Activation Music Therapy developed by Steven North integrates many aspects of traditional methods of sound healing and expands further with the integration of natural scalar energies. These energies are in fact coded vibrations that consist of many messages that can assist a listener to transform their own life.

Through the facilitation of crystal energies, binaural frequencies, scalar energies, coded vibrations and music sounds can a person experience a quantum & multi-dimensional healing. Steven North is developing the Heart Activation Music Therapy curriculum to train other practitioners & healers in the use of this new modality.

In the meantime, have fun listening to “Bajre Da Sitta” which will be released on the Heart Activation Music album in the not too distant future and we hope you enjoy it as much as we have loved creating it.

– Steven & Amy North

YouTube Link

YouTube URL: https://youtu.be/nMPXQOd-whQ

Credits

Song Title: Bajre Da Sitta
Song by: Steven North
Crystals: Clear Quartz
Binary: 33 Hz Gamma Isochronic – Christ Consciousness, Hypersensitivity, Pyramid, Schumann Resonance Frequency
Deities/Archangels/Ascended Masters: Lord Maitreya, Djwahl Kuhl, Kryon from Magnetic Service
ISRC: AU-WMU-17-00012

 

 

 

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Art & Culture

ReDiscover Your True Self through Journaling

pexels-photo-52649

Who are you?

Do you know?

Can you answer that question as quick as you could tell me your name and address?

 

If you can’t, then it’s quite likely that you don’t know who you are deep down, or you are not aligned with your True Self.

Maybe you are confused by the many facets you find within yourself. Maybe you have spent so long caring for and attending to other people that you’ve shelved yourself, allowing your True Self to gather dust on the shelf. Or maybe you have changed so much over the last few months or years that you no longer recognise the person looking back at you in the mirror everyday. You might even be denying who you really are because you are pretending to be who you think others want you to be.

Whatever the reasons why you feel out of tune with your True Self, the good news is that you can (Re)Discover YOU.

Although there’s a little work to do to shake off the months, maybe even years of cobwebs, it is actually pretty simple. All you need is time to think and reflect, a notebook of some kind (or handily, you can pick up a copy of my new journaling book on Amazon!), and a pen to scribble down your thoughts and responses.

 

So … why is journaling so great?

Journaling has become increasingly popular over the last few years, and it is easy to see why when you consider all the benefits. Here are the most important ones.

Journaling gives you a safe and private place to be your True Self and be really really vulnerable. You can tell your journal anything and there is no judgement, no questioning glances, and no voices telling you to ‘get it together’. It’s your best friend and your therapist in a handy, portable package. You can let the emotions flow, your passions fire, and your thoughts (positive, negative and all those in between) spill onto the pages.  This means you are better connected to yourself – your values, your passions, your strengths, your dreams, your loves.

Journaling can help you to take a step back from a situation, to become less involved almost, and see the bigger picture, making you more rational in your decisions and giving you the mental clarity you need to ensure it’s also the right decision. You can understand better, not only other points of view, but also your true feelings on things. You can hear yourself think in the pages of a journal.

Journaling can also help you to solve problems because you can lay it all out in front of you, and it can improve your focus by highlighting your priorities. It can also boost your creativity – ask anyone who has ever tried Bullet Journaling! – something we let fall to the wayside a lot in our busy lives, despite creative pursuits being shown to reduce stress and anxiety.

Your journal can help you get through tough times, challenging times, but it can also record the good times. All those moments, those small wins and the little things that brought you great joy on a dull Tuesday, can live on forever in your journal, accessible at any time to be relived and reloved. Record your firsts, your family’s firsts, and the treasures your busy brain might file away under the overwhelm of new information and trivialities of daily life.

A journal is a must-use tool to track progress along your personal development journey, it can facilitate further growth, it allows you to plan for your great future and you can use it to review the past too. Journaling and success go hand in hand. Fact! And don’t you want a piece of that success pie? Of course you do!

The biggest benefit of journaling is that EVERYONE can do it. Literally every single person on this planet. And there are no side effects! That’s right, it’s one of the few things The Daily Mail says doesn’t cause cancer! Yet anyway! (Disclaimer – This is a joke. Not fact. Please be sensible and use your discretion!)

Journaling is an excellent tool to use, especially as part of your New Year preparations or end of year review. It’s no secret that people change. People evolve. Your answers this year might not be the same as next years, and I am sure they will be different to last years. So, check in regularly to make sure you are still in alignment with your True Self.

Will you join the journaler’s changing their worlds a page at a time this year?

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Art & Culture

My Love Affair with Russian Chandeliers

Russian Chandelier

It was just curiosity at first, a glimpse in my peripheral vision. I could easily have turned away, resisted. But I allowed myself a full view of what had caught my eye. There was no going back, I was hooked.

Have you ever felt like that?

That’s how my love affair with chandeliers began. Now I look for them, as I do mandalas, wherever I go. And my all time favorite, most beautiful, most meaningful, chandelier has a history that unknowingly wove itself into my life decades ago.

What? When? Why? How?

My entire first chandelier collection is especially meaningful for me, as I have wanted to travel to Russia since I was a teenager. Getting there was the very first item on my life wish list. Forty years ago to be exact, I read the non-fiction book, “Nicholas and Alexandra” – which I am now reading again – and through it I learned about the Tsar Nicholas II, his wife the Empress Alexandra (and their family), what they were like as people and as rulers.

Even knowing the outcome, learning about these real people of history fascinated me from page one. The Romanov Dynasty and Imperial Russia would come to an end during World War I, replaced by communism.

Sadly, in 1918, the royal family and a few members of their household were brutally murdered, their bodies dismembered, burned and buried deep in a mine shaft with acid thrown on top. That was the end of the story as far as I knew.

Years passed and I was thrilled when Perestroika (“restructuring”) and Glasnost (“openness”) resulted in the dissolution of the Soviet Union. Some day I would go to Russia!

My life dream came true in September 2015, when I spent two weeks in this huge and mysterious country. In only a sliver of travel, I encountered restored palaces, cathedrals, country churches and I savored past and present culture through connections with locals.

And I took LOTS of photos of chandeliers.

My most memorable chandelier experience took place at the Peter and Paul Fortress. Simply stepping onto the cobblestone and seeing the cathedral with its 404 foot tall spire literally took my breath away. (I can count on one hand the times that’s happened to me!)

Within the Cathedral, above ground tombs of the Romanov Tsars filled the side spaces. I stood among Peter the Great, Catherine the Great, most recently Nicholas I, Alexander II, Alexander III, etc. Hard to fathom, I just soaked it up.

But it was when I looked forward and above that I was truly inspired and filled with awe. For here was and is my favorite chandelier of all time (see thumbnail photo), partly because of what came next.

The most powerful moments of my time in the Cathedral were spent in front of the Catherine the Great Chapel. It was here that I learned that the remains of Nicholas and Alexandra, with their children and household staff, were discovered in 1998 and following DNA testing, had been interred in the chapel. Nicholas, Alexandra, Maria, Tatiana, Olga Anastasia, Alexis. All there.

I’d had no idea their remains had been located and treated with the dignity and honor they deserved. I found myself overwhelmed with emotion. Crying quietly with grief and relief, with the comforting awareness that somehow, this complex and loving family had found their way home.

The depth of this experience remains with me today.

I reflect now how reading can open the world for anyone.  I reflect too on the blessing of being able to travel to places of such rich history, to walk the path of the past, and somehow feel connected to those who came before.

Is there somewhere calling you?

 

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Art & Culture

Those Brown Stains on My Sheets Are Chocolate and Other Observations from This 30-Day Blog Writing Challenge

Mandala lights

Do you ever experience a phrase, song, or idea that keeps going around in your head?

I know the song replaying is called an earworm. Wikipedia adds that, sometimes known as a brainworm, sticky music, or stuck song syndrome, it is a catchy piece of music that continually repeats through a person’s mind after it is no longer playing.

Not sure about the phrase or idea replaying. I’d call it a broken record, but in this day of CDs, many people wouldn’t get the reference. Then again, I’ve heard that vinyl is making a comeback.

Anyway, a few weeks ago, I was eating chocolate in bed and a few bits ended up on the sheets, unnoticed by me until laundry day. Into my mind pops the words “Those brown stains on my sheets are chocolate.” I laugh out loud, which my brain must love, because it keeps repeating those words. Again and again. Finally, I give in, thus the title. Maybe I will be left in peace now.

And while I’m on the subject, a number of other observations have popped up and demanded out.

So.

Here they are, in full glory, some quirky and not so quirky observations of these last 30 blog-writing days.

  • Those brown stains on my sheets really were chocolate. Really.
  • When I woke up this morning and saw snow, I thought to myself, “Finally. Summer is REALLY over!”
  • I can’t figure out why the font size arbitrarily changes in spite of its setting. And I’m ok with that.
  • It is not necessary to have sheets on my bed to sleep well if I’m tired enough. The mattress and duvet are quite nice on their own.
  • I easily entertain myself: for example I made a meme of Clint Eastwood as Dirty Harry saying “Go ahead punk. Make my meme.” Every time I think of it I giggle. I’m giggling now.

Go Ahead Punk


  • Mailchimp, my email subscriber software, has a cheeky user interface that I always fall for when I send out an email. 
Mailchimp prepare for launch
Mailchimp High Fives

I DO revel in my moment of glory, and I ALWAYS return the chimp’s high five. Helloooo… it’s computer software!

I don’t care! It never fails, and I always smile. 


  • I upgraded my iPad to the iPad Pro JUST so I could have the Apple Pen. Merry Christmas to me!
  • Microsoft OneNote rocks. The anal retentive creative’s dream app for online organizing.
  • Writing the blog is the easy part. Adding photos and publishing and posting and sharing etc are the bits that take time. I actually have a checklist (reference previous observation) to ensure I’ve completed all the steps.
  • I love mandalas and swirls so much, they’re showing up outside my house.
Mandala lights for blog

  • HuffPost Contributor Platform pooped out before I did. Note to self: figure out what’s up with that.
  • This challenge has actually been a great experience… and it wore me out! Lots of staying up past my bedtime.

How do you entertain yourself? Better still, what is the quirkiest phrase/idea that keeps going around in your head? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below, because I know I’m not the only one with experiences like this.

Here’s to successfully accomplishing my goal of 30 blogs in 30 days. Woo hoo!

I’d open some champagne to celebrate… except that I just want to crawl into bed. 

With my mattress and duvet.

Night night!

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Art & Culture

Growing Up With My Dad… These Last Three Years

Dad 90th party

For those of you blessed with fathers, do you have memories of growing up?

Some great, some good… some not so good perhaps?

What kind of Father’s Day cards appealed to you?

What was the best of times?


My best of times is now. My Dad is 90 years old. And we have just in the last three years really grown up together. I’m so thankful he has lived this long, and I treasure every moment we spend together as blessing.

Like today when he called, confused about one of his medications. Living just a few minutes away, I went over and helped him out.

It wasn’t always like that.

As I child, I knew he loved me, but I didn’t actually feel love coming from him. He was often fun and playful. And strict. I was a bit afraid of him.

After my mom died in 1991, Dad and I grew closer. We grieved together and supported each other.

Then he remarried. And the short story here is that he made his new family the priority in his life.

I write this next bit with great compassionate love for myself and my Dad.

I felt abandoned. Cast aside. I WAS abandoned, cast aside, with the exception of a monthly breakfast and occasional family gatherings. It was a very difficult, awkward and prolonged time, and still I was determined to somehow find my way through it with love and respect.

The year 2010 would be one of great change for our family. Dad and his wife had to separate for health reasons, neither one being able to care for the other’s needs. From being largely on the outside for the past eighteen years, my in-town siblings and I were suddenly responsible for his care. How does one person single handedly care for an elderly loved one? We, working collaboratively, couldn’t fathom. And the short story here is that we managed, including getting him comfortably settled in a senior independent living facility apartment.

Fast forward to 2013. I’m wrapping up my time in Doha, talking with Dad by phone and crying. Interestingly, he always really showed up for me when I lived abroad, connecting and caring. His support of me during my year in the Middle East helped me decide to return to KC rather than London.

A number of things have happened since my return from Doha over three years ago:

  • I resumed taking Dad to church every Sunday, after which we go out to eat.
  • I continued my trauma recovery therapy and healing, now processing decades-long suppressed anger and abandonment issues.
  • I continued to find and use my voice, my power.
  • I learned and began to practice healthy boundaries. Scary!
  • Dad had a series of surgeries: fractured left hip hardware, to total hip replacement, to revision total hip, each followed by hospital and weeks-long rehab facility recovery.

They say it takes a village to raise a child. It sure took a village to “raise” my father through these recent years.

They also say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. I beg to differ.

I doggedly (pun definitely intended) spoke my truth, little by little, over time, to my father, standing up for myself when I felt hurt by his words. It was important for me to be authentic with him, not putting on the life-long happy face. Coming from a generation with a completely difference experience, he at first didn’t understand my attempts to explain trauma and recovery therapy and my anxiety and depression. Yet he would eventually respond to me in a way that told me he was listening. And processing what I was saying.

And guess what? As I changed, he changed. Our conversations changed. He stopped saying hurtful things to me. He said please and thank you and I love you. And come here, give me a hug.

And over time I began to feel loved. I always was loved. But now the little girl that is me knew she was deeply loved by her daddy.

Know what else changed? I started remembering happy times from childhood, and I lovingly saw how the years had reversed our roles.

  • He taught me how to tie my shoes.
  • I help him put his shoes on.
  • He taught me to ride my bike.
  • I help him with his walker and getting in/out of the car.
  • Sometimes he surprised us with donuts on Saturday morning.
  • Sometimes I surprise him with donuts on Saturday morning.
  • He took us to church on Sunday.
  • I take him to church on Sunday. And he tells me he loves to hear me sing. (!)
  • On the occasion when Dad would take our large young family out for breakfast, he would buy us each a mint patty when he paid the bill.
  • Weather permitting (yet another reason to love the cold), I keep a bag of York mint patties in my car, each of us enjoying one after our Sunday meal out.
  • Sometimes, when he traveled for work, he would bring home a tiny little something for us.
  • When I travel to different places, I bring home a magnet for his fridge.
  • He was cool enough to play our favorite rock station on the car radio for us.
  • I’m cool enough to play the baseball or football game station on my car radio for him.
  • When I had surgery in 1992 for recurrent herniated neck disc, I woke up in my hospital room to see Dad sitting next to me and holding my hand.
  • After his repeated surgeries, I sat next to him and held his hand… when he let me.

My father is a strong willed, determined, methodical, deeply faithful and loving man, with a passion for life.

I am so my father’s daughter. And so proud to be so.Dad and me mini

 

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Art & Culture

Maitri: Unconditional Loving Kindness

Baby kitty Maitri

Do you ever feel so tired that you just can’t muster the energy to do what you intended to do?

More importantly, do you reach out for help and support when you need it?

I’m exhausted right now and I have a blog to write. And, I’m asking for support and it’s showing up from the most unlikely source. My cat Maitri has offered to write my blog for me, and I have accepted. One thing you should know – she calls me by my nickname, Nettie.

Over to you, Maitri.


Thanks Nettie. By the way, this blog is dedicated to Zoe, who loved Annie and Craig with all her heart. You are missed!


Ok. Think 2012. Middle East. Doha, Qatar. The hot desert. Where I was a little baby kitty, all on my own. Someone was kind enough to rescue me and get me to the vet for care and fostering. Thankfully, I was socialized early enough in my life that I could be offered for adoption.

Nettie likes to tell the story of how I literally fell into her hands that day. She had brought in her other cat, Lucy (a beautiful and shy but sweet tuxedo kitty), adopted a week previously, for her follow up checkup.

As Nettie passed the cage I was in, the latch opened all on its own (ok, it may have had something to do with me pushing on it from the inside – I’m quite clever). I started to tumble out, and she instinctively reached to catch me in her hands. I was so tiny at the time it was a perfect fit.

All she had to do was look at me, my one blue and one hazel eye staring back at her brown eyes. She took in my adorable face and completely white fur, and these words came out of her mouth with a loving smile:” Oh, you are definitely coming home with me.”

And I did. That day!

Lucy, decidedly unhappy with my arrival, stayed behind a curtain for the first twenty four hours. Eventually she found that we could share the same space and even showed me the ropes a bit.

I had found my forever home.

One thing Nettie noticed straightaway was that I didn’t respond to sounds like normal kittens. So she did a little testing, like calling my name and clapping her hands. No reaction. At my follow up appointment with the vet, her suspicions were confirmed.

I was deaf. Nettie said, “Oh, she’ll never hear me call her name.” And the vet said, “That’s ok. She’ll be able to read lips.” Silly vet.

But Nettie was a bit sad, because she purposely had chosen the name Maitri, which is a Sanskrit word meaning unconditional loving kindness. And now I would never hear it.

She decided to write a poem in her journal about her feelings and experience:


I adopted a kitty – named Maitri

A sweet little white ball of fur

Unconditional loving kindness

Is what I had in mind for her

Her eyes, one blue and one hazel

Search my eyes and connect, so I think

With deep concentration she watches

Then pokes mine before I can blink

 

I’m sad as I think of her deafness

She’ll never know to come when I call

Yet now as I cry in my grief-ness

She appears, loving kindness and all

 

Her playfulness-goofiness delight me

It’s so good to laugh out loud

Her softness and tinyness quiet me

She’s Maitri, loving kindness avowed


Isn’t that cool? That I don’t have to hear my name to be my name?

There’s so much more I want to share with you, but Nettie really wants to get to bed. So I’ll wrap it up with two calls to action for all humans who are reading this:

Come follow me on Instagram @maitri_memweowr, and learn more about me and my escapades at http://www.abundanceart.com/all-about-maitri

Unconditional loving kindness to all!

 

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Art & Culture

Goodbye Stress, Hello Happiness and Calm: A Month of Creativity

creativity
There are a lot of things I do in November but the main one is NaNoWriMo.
Now, you’ve probably heard of this – it’s short for (inter)National Novel Writing Month – and it has one simple challenge for you: write 50,000 words (of a novel – or go rebel with something non-fiction) in 30 days. I have done it pretty much every year for the last decade, and happily I can say I won this year for the first time. It’s tough but it’s so much fun, and really allows me to get my creative juices flowing.
But November is more than just a writing challenge. For me, November is the month of creativity.
I pretty much stop doing everything else that’s not creative in some way. Obviously I stick to prior arrangements and maintain my schedule, but I very rarely take on any new clients and I don’t like to start anything until December ticks around.
Taking a month ‘off’ to just be creative is something I look forward to for the entire year. I know that I will be an overflowing pot of ideas, plans, and artworks. Whatever the creative whim, I let it take me with it. I have knitted, embroidered, written 2/3rds of a novel, created some fabulously decorative BuJo spreads, and made lots of little things like Christmas decorations this November. It’s also a massive boon for my business too. I have brainstormed new ideas, written snippets of perfectly imagined marketing material, planned some new projects and so much more.
Being creatively-driven for any period time is uplifting and a refreshing break from the mundanities of everyday life. It’s  the most fun part of the year for me, it allows me to play, to imagine, and to start December (and the New Year) with a fresh mind and a fresh set of eyes. Everything looks different afterwards. More clear. More colourful where the gray was starting to take over. For instance, I have been playing with minimalism a lot – in my Bujo, in my home, in my schedule – and it’s allowed me to see the clutter much more clearly in my home. There’s nothing more refreshing than a pre-Christmas purge before a time of excess!
Creativity is underrated and very much overlooked in our busy modern lives, but in order to Live a Life you Love you need those creative sparks to ignite and grow. November allows me to do this, and setting aside time in your life to ‘just be creative’ can help you too.
Here are some very good reasons why you should make time to be creative today.
  1. Did you know that being creative relieves stress? Why do you think there has been a massive resurgence in colouring books? It calms the mind and gets you focusing on something outside of your overthinking brain.
  1. Speaking of brains, being creative keeps your brain healthy. It helps your brain to repair itself, renew itself, and keep it in tip-top cognitive shape. It has even been indicated to ward off early-onset Alzheimers.
  1. As I have already said, being creative leaves you happier, calmer, and can improve mood disorders such as depression if routinely enjoyed. As someone who has post-natal depression, I can assure you it helps!
How will you incorporate creativity into your daily routine going forward? Remember, as little as 5 minutes per day can have a massive impact on your life in the long term. So grab those felt pens, invest in some washi, and start hijacking the kid’s art stuff today!
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Art & Culture

Very Very Thank You!

Warrington Crescent, London

Have you ever tried to speak something in a different language and not get it quite right?

I know I have. I know my brother has too. A native English speaker, and Catholic priest, he started learning Spanish long ago, feeling called to begin an Hispanic ministry in his parish. At his first Spanish baptism, so the story goes, he guided the parents to be good potatoes! In his defense, it was an understandable mistake, “the potatoes” translating to “las papas”, and “the parents” translating to “las papás”.

Oops!

Not all translation snafus are off the mark, and they still manage to convey the appropriate meaning.

Fast forward to London about ten years ago. I was walking home from work and saw a woman standing still and looking around. I asked if I could help, and in her broken English she told me she was trying to find the address written on the piece of paper in her hand.

It was not even a five minute walk away, but a convoluted one, and I told her with my words and gestures that I would show her, that it was no problem at all.

As we walked this way and that, I learned that she was from Albania, here visiting her son. She was so little, I felt almost protective of her.

When we arrived at Sutherland Avenue, I looked again at the address, and pointed to the left, saying it would be right there. She looked at me with gratitude and relief, gave me a big hug, and said something I’ll never forget:

“Very very thank you!”

Simple encounter. Magic moment. Love wins. I walked home with a huge smile on my face and a big space in my heart.

The next day, running late, I took a taxi to work. As we headed down Warwick Avenue, I saw her walking along on the pavement (sidewalk). I wanted to tell the taxi driver to stop. I wanted to roll down the window and yell “Hello my friend!” I wanted to offer her a ride.

Instead, I just took in the sight of her, thankful for our connection the day before, and wishing her love and happiness.

Do you have unexpected encounters that put a smile on your face? Do you have those that put a smile on someone else’s face?

This week, I ask you to do something. When you encounter someone new, whether in person or on the phone, find out their name if you can, and use it… people love to hear their name spoken. If/when they ask how you are doing, answer the question, and ask them (by name) the same question. Smile when you say it. And mean it.

Trust me. You just might make that person’s day. It will definitely make yours.

Very very thank you!

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Art & Culture

From Turkey to Tacos

Tacos at my KC flat, 2009 (I hope my family doesn’t mind!)

So, it’s the day after Thanksgiving here in the USA. Another day perfect for reflection. For how yesterday went, for recovering from food and family time. Maybe for being glad THAT’S over. Maybe for how you hope to learn and grow from your experience.

How do those of you who celebrate the holiday spend this day after? For many, life returns to normal, those with Monday through Friday jobs either returning to work, or lucky enough to have a four day weekend.

Leftovers, if any, are consumed. What’s your favorite leftover combo? Do you eat pie for breakfast? 🙂

In my family, we follow an unconventional tradition: we have tacos. This started around forty years ago, when I was still living at home. Older siblings had married and moved away, spending Thanksgiving with out of town in-laws. My parents, wanting to have a complete family gathering at some point over the weekend, established a Saturday night taco feast.

Fast forward some years to when I began hosting the taco feast at my home, moving the day up to Friday to catch as many out of towners as possible. Dessert? Leftovers from the night before, plus some brownies. Tacos + brownies = perfect.

When I lived out of the country, someone else hosted. When I moved back, I resumed. Last year, with me not feeling up for hosting, we went to a movie then out for Mexican.

As I type, I plan in my mind for about 20 people tonight. In early years I cooked from scratch. For years now, I call the local Mexican restaurant and order trays of ingredients. It’s thoughtful to support local businesses, don’t you think?

Tacos at my KC flat, 2009 (I hope family doesn't mind!)

Tacos at my KC flat, 2009 (I hope family doesn’t mind!)

For me, traditions are important in family life. Even with drama and trauma, they can serve to keep us connected and growing together as we grow larger in size – family size, that is… though it often includes body size.

So, what family traditions do you keep? Is it easy, not so easy, hard, near impossible, impossibleto keep them going? Can you spend time with each other, honoring your differences, recognizing your triggers? Have you been blessed with and/or developed healthy boundaries? Tell me what you think, what you feel.

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Art & Culture

Namaste, Namaskar, Namaskaram

Namaste at Hilltop, Annapurna Hill Mountains, 2010

Do you have a favorite word?

I do. It’s Namaste. You may or may not have heard of it. You may use it regularly.

Also, did you know that this traditional Hindu greeting actually is one of several forms of the same word, all rooted in Sanskrit? Now, I once heard or read that Sanskrit is a dead language, meaning not in use today. I promise you that is NOT the case.

Sanskrit is alive and well and filled with depth and beauty.

Let’s start with Namaste: In Sanskrit the words namah + te = namaste which means “I bow to you – my greetings, salutations or prostration to you.” It’s a sign of respect practiced by Hindus and people of many other religions. In fact, its simple gesture is the same as what I was taught- to fold my hands together, palms facing each other at the level of the chest – in prayer as a child during my Catholic upbringing. I love how I use it now in my ecumenical and Catholic practices. And in my encounters with Hindus.

A true Namaste greeting also includes a slight bow of the head, to convey respect for the intention behind the word, and to the person being greeted… or being said good bye to. Because it’s one of those hello and good-bye  multi purpose words.

I first learned Namaste here in the Midwest USA. Awkward at first, the more I’ve learned about it, the more I’ve grown quite comfortable, offering it freely and with deep intention and love from my heart and soul.

Namaste possesses several levels of meaning:

  • “I bow to you, I salute you.” The literal translation above.
  • “May our minds meet.” More like a prayer, the bowing down of the head at this level is a gracious form of extending friendship in love, respect, and humility.
  • “I honor the divine in you.” This recognizes the belief that God is present in all forms of life, human and otherwise, and conveys the deepest spirituality.

So what about the other versions? Not having any scholastic knowledge behind me, I will simply share what I have learned from my friends and encounters with many others.

  • The further north in India you are (or the person with whom you are speaking is from), Namaste is the commonly used word. This is what we spoke in Delhi and further north in the Himalayan Hill Mountains. This also applied in Nepal. Oh, Nepal! The children! This is a MUST SEE video!
  • As you travel south in India, Namaskar becomes more common.
  • In southernmost India, Namaskaram is more common, and there are other versions.

I’m not sure if the differences are because Hindi is more common in the north and Tamil in the south.  What do you think? What kind of experiences have you had with these greetings?

On a respectful side note, while living in the Middle East, I learned from an Indian Muslim gentleman that just because he is Indian does not mean that Namaste is an acceptable greeting. He went on to explain that because Islam’s core belief is “There is one God but Allah, and Muhammad is his prophet” it would be inappropriate to acknowledge that God is in another person. He was quite passionate about this, and I found myself wondering how other Muslims feel.

At any rate, I began to recognize names as being either Muslim or Hindu, and adapted my greeting accordingly, offering As-salam alaykum, meaning “Peace be upon you” to Muslims, and the appropriate version of Namaste to Hindus.

Yesterday as I was paying for a soda in a convenience store, I could tell the cashier was from Nepal or India, so I asked him. Learning he was from southern India and not yet knowing his name, I took a chance and offered Namaskar! Oh, how his smile lit up his eyes, his whole face, as he brought his hands together and replied with a heartfelt Namaskar!

What a small world it is.

Wouldn’t it be incredible if all people greeted and really treated each other with such words and intention of love and respect?

Namaste, Namaskar, Namaskaram

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