ice

Love the skin you are in

asmaA long distance girlfriend of mine, Asma, and I were on Skype earlier today.  We’re developing a business together and were going through samples. We were also discussing her wedding in January in the UAE and her desire for me to attend and then come back to Pakistan for a couple of months – to visit, to explore, to immerse and get her life pulled together for making the UAE her permanent home come March.  I know her well enough to know she wouldn’t flatter for the sake of it, at 29 she’s clearly young enough to (technically anyway) be my daughter, but she said she thinks of me as her older sister and asked (given the upcoming wedding ceremonies) about my skin – specifically how I look so young, and with some issues related to her own she’d like to correct.  And since I just had a similar conversation last weekend with my girlfriends Jennifer (45, at right) and Nancy (60, at left) – below – it seems that I should share secrets. Maybe they are useful to a bunch of you – or your lovers.

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First, much as I hate to admit this, there are times when I have done without other ‘more practical’ concerns to ensure I have my heavily ladened collection of potions, lotions and masks; I do not regret one penny spent over the years on such.  A male friend (who once helped me move house) tells a riotous version of such. Thinking that the contents of the vanity was all that needed to be transported he discovered that it would take two more trips with a laundry basket to move all my “girl stuff”.  I am unabashed. That one of my girlfriends just went on a date with a man who possessed 7 different kinds of facial masques might be equality manifest but for the record I don’t dig metro-sexual men and one that has more toiletries than I do wouldn’t last 12 hours with me.

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I do not resemble Shay Mitchell even when wearing my pair of Ray Bans exactly like this.

As the expression goes “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”, that expressed I have avoiding the sun like the plague since my teen years. (And no, I have never put sunscreens on, no, not ever.)  It’s not to say that I don’t go out in the sun, I do, but if I can avoid it not between 10-3 and if then always with Ray-Ban’s on.

Second, understand that caring for yourself – tenderly, passionately – is not an indulgence or frivolous.  Self care is paramount in a world that takes too much, is too polluted, assaults every fibre of our being.  If you don’t do this how can you possibly cope with the wear and tear and stress to your body from the environment around us – as the expression goes, #JustDoIt !  My current arsenal is not what I started with as an 11 year old – for one thing I drink a lot more water and herbal teas (iced) loaded with potent antioxidants – but the mud masque (in geishasome variation) once a week remains.  When I am fortunate enough to find myself swimming in salt water I will sit in the surf and rub the sand over my legs and arms. If kelp is nearby then I will mash this up my hands with sand and rub it all over me as well.

Unlike the old Ivory commercials of my youth, I am not a soap and water girl; if I use ‘soap’ it is vegetable glycerin infused with organic botanicals from the oldest soaperie in the Celtic world.  I had read a couple years back a tantalizing preview to a new skincare line developed from a 200 year old book of Geisha beauty secrets – the Miyakofuzoku Kewaisden - painstakingly translated and then applied to the initial product launch of Tatcha. Needless to say the rice enzyme polishing powder is a godsend! The texture of my skin has never been better and any age spots that I might have faded like bad memories.

As someone who has oily skin (I inherited my father’s complexion) from pre-puberty life (age 11) forward to today (age 53) if anyone would ever suggest that I would be putting oil on my face (or the rest of my body) I would have told them they were out of their mind. BUT! About three years ago I started suffering from winter dry skin and normal moisturizers (no matter how expensive) weren’t doing anything beyond smelling nice. As contrary as it might seem various ‘dry oils’ are fabulous for protection, rejuvenation and healing (try a few of these).

Post bathing or face washing I have been using Evening Primrose oil around my eyes – morning and night – dot, then pat inward; never rub the tissue around your eyes (I learned that at 19 and have used some kind of an eye cream ever since). Sometimes I use grapeTatcha’s Camilla Oil (not as intended) as a moisturizer after the rice powder and generally slather it on my arms and legs while still damp after bathing. The eponymous French firm L’Occitane used to offer this incredible grape and grapeseed oil body spray that I used to use the same way – sadly it has been discontinued.

A friend knowing my affinity for ‘girl stuff’ just sent me a bottle of Tom Ford’s glorious Neroli Portofino Body Oil and the matching body lotion.  This intoxicating blend (check out the benefits of each of the following from both an aroma therapy perspective as well as for topical use) of bergamot, lemon, mandarin, lavender, myrtle, rosemary, Bitter orange, Egyptian jasmine, neroli, orange blossom water, pittosporum, woody amber accord, ambrette seeds, angelica root is marketed as a masculine scent but with my body chemistry (tracing back to my dad?) I am swooning over the way my skin smells right now (and I guarantee that I would not be the least bit interested in a man that smelled this way).

You should be drawn and quartered for using ANYTHING with micro-beads in it for exfoliating!  PLEASE DO NOT F*CK UP OUR WATER SUPPLY by using these products. If you must exfoliate use something with crushed walnut shells or apricot kernels.

One final point – ice water rinses.  Sometime around 14 I read an article about maintaining the elasticity in skin (like the Scandinavians and Icelanders) of hot, cold, hot, icecold.  Ice Ice Baby, called “avantouinti” by the Finns, for far ranging health benefits – yes, it does take some stamina to embrace the regime.

Ultimately I think that self care is also about comfort with our sensuality. There is absolutely nothing wrong in taking time and doing for ourselves (even in the absence of a partner) because we value who we are and recognise that if we don’t do these things for ourselves no one else will.  

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Grégoire Cachemaille Photography Mirror mirror on the wall 2013

Remains

dexterity

Grégoire Cachemaille Photography Mirror mirror on the wall 2013

Mirror mirror on the wall, 2013, Grégoire Cachemaille

chilling dispatch

what remains of sex

roué

flaccid vessel

mirrors your empty soul

 a thousand regrets

forsaken heart

my cup drains onto linen

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To tend.

tend “to incline, to move in a certain direction,” c.1350, from O.Fr. tendre “stretch, hold forth, offer” (11c.), from L. tendere “to aim, stretch, extend”

tend “attend to,” early 14c., aphetic of M.E. atenden (see attend).

I am a gardener.  I am this moniker perhaps before I am anything else, before I am a woman. Before I am an aunt.  Before I am a friend.  For those who are not gardeners ‘tend’ will mean something slightly different (or altogether different).  For gardeners the contemporary French (transitive) verb attendre is perhaps more fitting – To wait for, to await. To expect.

The Man Who Planted Trees, Montreal Botanical Garden

The Man Who Planted Trees, Montreal Botanical Garden

Familiar with The Man Who Planted Trees – written 100 years ago – as well as The Secret Garden (originally published in serial format in 1910)?, I hope so.

A gardener understands possibilities, embracing patience and possessing both a strategic vision as well as the tactical wherewithal to execute and to be undaunted by the scope of making something real out of nothing.  For a gardener all things are also impermanent, the vagaries of weather, soil, sun – finicky plants, and hardly ones all may thrive or die without reason, explanation or intent. The larger world, I think, is harder on gardeners because we do not take, nor can we comprehend the ‘need’ of others to do so, and this causes us enormous pain.

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SE to NW, 7 August 2014

This is my love’s labor (soon to be lost with uprooting myself).  Five and half years of effort; of buying dirt, humus, peat moss, collecting coffee grounds and manure, sifting debris out of a back-filled, disused, courtyard, causing myself physical pain over and over and over again to nurture, to love the Earth and to tend my own soul, all of these in combination to create this.  The mindset of a gardener is to give and our fleeting reward is found in butterflies and bees demanding more, of bird song and the beauty found in a friends’ smile at gifting the bounty from our attentions and labor.

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My girlfriend Amy with a bouquet from my garden.

Our skills are honed in solitude – there is no world stage to command, no film crew, no paparazzi, no reporters with probing questions or talking heads spewing hate. A gardener only understands unconditional love and finding a path to integration and tolerance and, even as we attend, in the end we know we control absolutely nothing.

I think about the disastrous records and current actions of global leaders played out as the rest of humanity waits to exhale; so clear to so many of us that the machinations of a handful will bring forth doom upon the rest of humankind. Where, beyond a healthy ego is narcissism and sociopathic behaviors that destroy because of indifference and avarice.  Where even the nearly 2000 year old words attributed to the Caledonian Calgacus, and recorded by Tacitus in his Agricola, cannot adequately express  the destruction we now bear witness to – largely because there is no peace, anywhere.

“Whenever I consider the origin of this war and the necessities of our position, I have a sure confidence that this day, and this union of yours, will be the beginning of freedom to the whole of Britain. To all of us slavery is a thing unknown; there are no lands beyond us, and even the sea is not safe, menaced as we are by a Roman fleet. And thus in war and battle, in which the brave find glory, even the coward will find safety. Former contests, in which, with varying fortune, the Romans Gazawere resisted, still left in us a last hope of succor, inasmuch as being the most renowned nation of Britain, dwelling in the very heart of the country, and out of sight of the shores of the conquered, we could keep even our eyes unpolluted by the contagion of slavery. To us who dwell on the uttermost confines of the earth and of freedom, this remote sanctuary of Britain’s glory has up to this time been a defence. Now, however, the furthest limits of Britain are thrown open, and the unknown always passes for the marvelous. But there are no tribes beyond us, nothing indeed but waves and rocks, and the yet more terrible Romans, from whose oppression escape is vainly sought by obedience and submission. Robbers of the world, having by their universal plunder exhausted the land, they rifle the deep. If the enemy be rich, they are rapacious; if he be poor, they lust for dominion; neither the east nor the west has been able to satisfy them. Alone among men they covet with equal eagerness poverty and riches. To robbery, slaughter, plunder, they give the lying name of empire; they make a solitude and call it peace.”

Regardless of its intimacy all things are not perfect in my garden – but it is free of warfare.  I refuse to use the arsenal available which would root out the evil of garden slugs and grubs alike (much as I loathe them).  And that is the difference between a gardener and men such as Benjamin Netanyahu and Bashar Hafez al-Assad, of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, of the militants (or CIA and Mossad as some believe) of ISIS (or ISI as they are taking to now call themselves) and Vladimir Putin, and, disappointingly as I actually voted for him twice, Barack Obama with his double set of standards over offering airstrikes to protect the Yazidi while the instruments of diplomacy, equanimity and aid are denied Palestinians because of an omnipotent Jewish lobby. The tacit denial of war crimes being committed because it impacts trade relations and now further lobbying with the United States Congress to keep the ICC from pressing charges (I know, I want to be sick too).

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‘Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red’ by artist Paul Cummins, 888,246 ceramic poppies each representing an allied victim of the First World War, in the moat of the Tower of London. http://poppies.hrp.org.uk/

We have just marked the 100th anniversary of the commencement of World War I; we’ve learned absolutely nothing. Blood still soaks the streets and fields as it did in Flanders it is not soldiers as cannon fodder this time (not yet) but innocent children and women living in the wrong place.

With an online search of the French transitive verb Attendre the use in a sentence sums up – perfectly.  On attendait mieux de toi. We expected more from you. Perhaps being a gardener should be a prerequisite for all world leaders.

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intention

There will be light! An utterly incongruent story of six lamps.

As my dear friend Ken Herron said when I told him the story, “You can’t make this stuff up!” and while the following may provide evidence to the contrary I am not (as he said) a “crazy lamp lady”.

I will admit, I live on the edge of outright financial disaster, but surrounded by beauty (which makes up for a lot) and always in a state of gratitude. I have very little in terms of expectation, and I am ridiculously happy for my version of normal which for anyone else would likely bring about bleeding ulcers, nocturnal teeth grinding and require serious pharmaceuticals to abate sitting in the corner of the room rocking back and forth and drooling on myself.  I trace this ‘cause and effect’ back to the willful folly of a 17 or 18 year old me desiring something denied by my father who said no more times than not to me while rarely denying my brother a-n-y-t-h-i-n-g, and my intuitive sense of navigation to find a way around an ‘in trust for’ passbook bank account and to the desired financial assets. (Whereupon my father announced that he was “washing his hands of me” – c’est la vie.)  I recall years later my mother saying something sarcastic about the fact that I always buy myself what I want by way of explanation for not receiving anything for my birthday, yet again. Sigh. I learned self sufficiency (for need and want) in an environment of disproportion; I am unapologetic.

intentionThat expressed, nice things happen to me. Frequently. Specialness that you could only put at the threshold of a universe that demands equilibrium.  A universe where intention manifests, despite the totally illogical, circuitous path traveled and where I find myself with (undeserved?) abundance. This is a true story about such. About how I “shouldn’t have, but did” and how in the end it worked out better than any rational human being assigning risk management theories could predict or that common sense would dictate. This story is about the universe saying yes when it should have denied me, and didn’t. This is the utterly incongruous story of six lamps and the unexpected, but very happy ending on my path to reinvention and relocation.

In 1992 I bought a pair of antique Famille Verte Chinese covered urns with mud decorations and battle scenes with carved rosewood stands for $99 (inclusive) in a junk cum antique DSCN9916shop in Buffalo, NY’s Allentown district.  I then took them to renowned antique dealer Dana Tillou (I have also been a customer of his nephew Jeffrey) to ‘see what I had scored’ only to have Dana gently suggest that given their value (at the time about $1100) I not drill them and turn them into lamps; which of course is precisely why I bought them and what I did. Elmwood Lighting (now out of business) did the honors and with the custom ecru silk lampshades the bill came to $161 and change (I had the receipt until fairly recently) all in $260.

Fast forward to 2013.

When I decided to uproot my life (to at the time destination unknown) last year I decided that I would start selling off my possessions to make the move easier, and with a new life would come a complete redo of my living-room decoration.  So I listed them on eBay, they had a buyer, who turned out to be one of those eBayers that give the company a bad reputation with sellers, for the $260 I had ‘invested’ after enjoying them for 20 years.  Alas, she opened a case and claimed “not as represented” (and then as broken) and eBay in their wisdom offered her a complete refund because I had insurance on the two boxes even while she had not returned the lamps.  I filed a claim with USPS, asked her to make them available to an inspector, to return them and hoped for at least the $200. Months dragged on, but eventually USPS issued a check for the $200 and a couple weeks later the lamps came back – not a total loss but time and money would have to be spent to find a replacement carved rosewood base and have the repairs done.  Eventually these would happily sell a second time for the same $260; net gain was about $170. Another lamp uneventfully sold for $260 putting my cash flow in the $430 range.

Obviously if you are selling lamps there is still the need lighting to see after dark.  And my longest, dearest held girlfriend Doris (an age peer of my parents) once had a pair of reticulated Blanc de Chine ginger jars that had been wired and sat on her mantle that I loved.  The man that ran her downsizing household sale was having an estate sale in my DSCN0001neighborhood and I managed to score a reticulated Blanc de Chine vase, the base already drilled, from him for $18 (picture at right). I found an antique hand carved Chinese wooden display stand that fit on eBay (actually, eventually, two) for $60 and had my lovely local lamp repair guy Brian handle the wiring for me – $79 (brass fittings and labor, tax).  I shipped the new lamp to NYC for a custom silk lampshade as no local business to my current home does such work at a cost of about $50. If you are doing the math along with me here that meant that I was still ‘up’ $233 after using my other lamps for roughly 20 years, not a bad ROI.

After massive grief and delays (three months) in having the custom turquoise blue silk pagoda lampshade made the lamp arrived back in one box and the lampshade in another – fully insured thank God – bill $640 (I know, I know, I am insane but I beg you not to look at me that way) for the lampshade and the shipping back. Technically speaking the whole gorgeous lamp with the shade came at an end cost $417.) BUT, the lamp base arrived back to me shattered! (argh), receipts forwarded to FedEx, more grief, partial refund requested, more dialogue, more emails, more receipts, waiver on claim, still broken lamp and an expensive lampshade and no lamp and then finally, nearly miraculously, a check arrives from FedEx – not a partial refund but a check that covered the shipping, the lampshade that wasn’t damaged, and the lamp – for $825 and some change!  Now the net cost of the new gorgeous lamp is actually nothing, and I have “made” $408 in the process.

Here’s where it gets even more interesting.  I was looking for a lamp finial for the Blanc de Chine vase lamp – so off to eBay and that’s where I found the dragon porcelain lamp (see the Pinterest story by clicking here, start at the bottom to see what it looked like on eBay) and finiala lamp finial ultimately paying $215 (including the shipping). Alas, it had a serious ugly lamp cap and an eBay source sold me a solid brass one that is PERFECT for $3. The accounting? Still ahead by $190!  The finial turned out to be really big (for either lamp) at 3” in diameter and a bunch of research turns out that it is actually an antique carved Mutton Fat (white) jade plaque from China (quite valuable) turned into a finial likely late 1800s so I listed it on eBay (more on this in a bit).

My lamp guy charged me $30 to rewire (what turned out to be gilt ormolu mounted) the porcelain lamp, and I am still ahead by $160. My 2nd new lamp now needs a lampshade.  DSCN9991There is no way I can justify another custom silk shade so I try the blue one on this lamp and decide it looks perfect but now the Blanc de Chine, now devoid of its custom pagoda shade, needs one. Back online to do research for something “in stock” and I settle upon a black silk shade with gilt lining DSCN9999but I am not spending $89 plus shipping. So back to eBay where, to my utter amazement, I find the perfect size, brand new, unused, oval, black silk with gilt paper lining shade originally sold in a town that I lived in out on Long Island’s North Shore – and I auction snipe it (bidding at the 30 seconds before the auction ends) and score it for $19 (including the shipping)! It looks amazing and despite all the energy expended my two new lamps have a total cost of nothing and I have made $141!!!

That is not the end of this story. Remember the carved jade plaque as a lamp finial? I sold it on eBay for $800. (Not factoring in eBay and PayPal fees) the universe has netted me two breathtaking lamps and I wound up making $940 – which, if I am truthful, should have been used to pay my rent in the first place instead of messing around buying lamps and that is where the money eventually went.

Both lamps have “cousins” on the 1stDibs website – the Blanc de Chine at $2250 and the gilt mounted porcelain 19th century French oil lamp that had been converted at $3000. A 60 watt bare bulb would ‘do’ for reading and no one actually needs a pair of lamps worth $5200 but I do love how the universe conspires to let me live with beauty – which is exactly what I ‘need’.

I still have this antique Paris porcelain one to sell with its custom silk shade – if you are interested. ;)

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Maggie Siner Single Unmade Bed 2011

What Marilyn Monroe knew, Sleeping Naked

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Daum Freres and Amalric Walter, Pate de Verre Paperweight “Sleeping Nude” from 1stDibs.com

Last night – probably for the first time in 52 years – I slept in the nude. This was not post coital remnants, nor the result of a sunburn or the aftermath of a new lover exhausted from the exploration of one another, this was about my health. “What?” say you.  Yesterday afternoon I stumbled upon this offering from The Mind Unleashed.  I most appreciate that within the article were all kinds of scientific citations (all of which are worthy of clicking through and reading) backing up the five points outlined. And the truth is that my real motivation in trying this was the potential very positive impact on both my Cortisol levels and those anti-aging hormones.

I confess I have never felt completely at ease sleeping in the buff and this has always been less about “what if there is an emergency” than the habit of needing something on my shoulders – even spaghetti strapped nightgowns were, while making me feel gorgeous, insufficient against earning real sleep. Something shifted in my brain and body as a result of the science presented. What if I had it nearly all wrong? I had always preferred a cold room – so that wasn’t an issue – but I am a snuggler (burying myself under a down comforter as the AC is on and it’s 85 degrees outside). So with the idea that one night of experimentation in the privacy of my own home certainly wasn’t going to kill me and I could always get up in the middle of the night and put a t-shirt and panties on – I stripped down, had a bath, slathered Camellia oil on and off to bed I went (with my book, alone).

Maggie Siner Single Unmade Bed 2011

Maggie Siner, Single Unmade Bed, 2011 http://www.maggiesiner.com

You know what? I ‘got over it’. I slept gloriously. And I had to ask myself this morning what was the purpose of having spent all kinds of crazy money over the years on fine Italian woven Egyptian cotton sheets only to put pj’s between my body and them? I believe I am fully reformed as of last night. The other, obvious, long term benefit of this new comfort will be found in the last point of the article – soaring Oxytocin levels. Whether a lover shares my bed or not the heightened level of sensual awareness involved in this exercise was not lost on me.  (For the memories drawn upon in this I am grateful even as the lovers are no longer relevant to my daily life.)  So the question arises – is it that nakedness is a catalyst which prompts sensuality which, in turn, offers a release from desire or is it just sleeping naked that makes us sleep better?

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Marilyn Monroe is famously quoted that she wore “just a few drops of Chanel No.5″ to bed.  Maybe Marilyn knew more about the science of sleeping than we ever gave her credit for – because it’s said that the perfumer, Ernest Beaux, drew his inspiration for creation of this fragrance from one of his visits to the Arctic Circle and the smell of water at midnight. Evidently the unique smell of frozen lakes and rivers so fascinated him that he decided to replicate it in his creation using laboratory created aldehydes. So perhaps the smell of cold is equal to a cold room in our sensory processing? Here’s something more interesting, amongst the blend of flowers and plants in Chanel No. 5 can be found bergamot, lemon, neroli and ylang-ylang, jasmine, rose, lily of the valley as well as iris, vetiver, sandalwood, vanilla, amber and patchouli – neroli and vetiver oils (in aromatherapy) have been shown to lower blood pressure and anxiety (in other words stress which is what causes Cortisol to spike in our bloodstream) and relieve insomnia while amber oil has been shown to relax brain waves (alpha, beta and theta waves) through its psychoactive effect. In truth I have never liked the smell of Chanel No. 5, despite this my fragrances all share common ‘notes’ of amber, neroli, bergamot, patchouli, jasmine, ylang-ylang, and sandalwood maybe that’s really why I slept so well last night.

Whatever you wear to bed (or not), I wish you sweet dreams.

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eid

In the midst of Eid, Armageddon

As my readers know I am what many religious would call a heathen, I am also an infidel, and, to some Christians I would be a heretic, there is (I am sure) a long list of other names which would also apply to me.  I acknowledge the historic men and women of various religions and respect the stories of their piety and charity and how their teachings have made many contributions to humanity in God’s (and gods’) name(s) but I don’t worship the Divine through them.  My relationship with God is direct, all-encompassing and loving, there is no damnation, there is no sin to atone for; there is only love and healing in my relationship with God.  A personal ethos to leave the room lighter than it was when I came into it and yes, I view the entire world as the room I just mentioned.  No, sacred places do not fall down when I enter them, and my being fills with a pure white light around my heart when I do (which I call ‘getting the passions’) and I, generally speaking, cry tears of gratitude for being so connected to the elemental.  I am very much like the saint for whom I was named in my connection to God – just without being a Bride of Christ. Oh, and as some of what follows is ‘controversial’ least anyone accuse me of being anti-Semitic my father’s sister converted to marry so all of my first cousins are Jewish.

eidToday is the last day of Ramadan, and the three day festival of Eid al-Fitr begins. For all my Muslim friends – regardless of where you live:

May today be one of delight, and lightness.  May each moment be filled with a special joy which you and your whole family can share and always treasure. May the year ahead be fruitful for you and your family and may your home always be blessed.

After 30 days of prayers and fasting (nothing to drink or eat from dawn until sunset – period) today should mark the beginning of a celebration of joy and of renewal, and in some parts of the world it still will be.  This post is not about those places. Sorry.  This is about Gaza, and increasingly the West Bank.  This is about what greed, hatred and holding a faith contrary to your neighbours does to your normal religious celebrations – it turns them to mourning and funerals.

And yet.

From the Qu’ran, [7:199], “Hold to forgiveness, command what is right; but turn away from the ignorant.”

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Photo of Gaza by Lazar Simeonov, printed in http://www.palestinemonitor.org/

Here’s my truth, as an outside observer to so much that is ugly in the Middle East right now, as a compassionate being, as a humanist and pantheist; forgiveness is what keeps us from killing the Divine’s beauty within each of us.  And ignorance (and my readers will also know this, I have a very low threshold for stupid) is frankly unacceptable in our globally connected world.  Don’t be rigid in your views based upon the tenets of your faith, your education (or lacking) or the pressure of your peers – use a search engine and find 10 vastly different responses to the point being made, read them – and then, make an informed decision. Do not hold a lack Palestinian womanof knowledge as an excuse for spewing hatred and committing violence.  And so, why should I quote the Qu’ran?; because the death toll of Israel’s excuse for its attacks on Gaza now stands at over 840 with over 5400 injured and frankly I am humbled at the level of forgiveness which the average Palestinian is able to offer their oppressors in the face of this siege of terror and destruction.  Because Hamas is as guilty as Israel, and if Hezbollah gets involved as it is indicating it will then Nostradamus’ prophesies about World War III are about to be all too real and played out in real time on social media.

“The recompense for an injury is an injury equal thereto: but if a person forgets and makes reconciliation, his reward is due from Allah.” Qu’ran [62:40]

So forgiveness, and prayers for reconciliation are both necessary, and we, those in the West, need to get off our backsides and create a two state solution out of this dispute that should have been palestine mapforeseen in 1946 as the planning for the establishment of Israel was being hashed out. One only need look at a map of Palestinian lands lost to Israel and the location of Gaza to understand the ‘why’ behind the Apartheid, and what this is all really about – that last bit of prime ocean front real estate. Throughout history it has always been about land and who possesses it. And that’s why when I read a piece written by Stephen Pizzo on Alternet I thought – he has absolutely gotten to the heart of the matter!

Israel-Gaza-map-for-web-001I have long maintained that in the absence of hope man will do anything to survive – including kill (others and themselves) – desperation drives this madness because all religions value life.  We, the West, culpable for the bloodshed for reasons ranging from military aid to oil speculation, for standing by while an Apartheid state exists for Palestinians, for not being willing to say NO! to a population of people who once were oppressed and are now the oppressors, for CIA meddling, for profiteering of our businesses, we who are responsible for every single death stand by, safe in our homes, largely ignorant of the scope of the circumstances because our lives are good. They aren’t and, believe this – they won’t be. I read a fascinating piece this morning and have been mulling it over all day – if we think that there won’t be repercussions for ‘all of our sins’ we are sadly mistaken. 

He is the One GOD; the Creator, the Initiator, the Designer. To Him belong the most beautiful names. Glorifying Him is everything in the heavens and the earth. He is the Almighty, Most Wise. Qu’ran [59:24]

It doesn’t matter what Prophet you might follow, the words about God above resonate with each one of us, creation formed of physics an element of the Divine is found in everything. At a time when (all) Muslims should be celebrating their holiest days, honouring the same exact God all monotheistic faiths believe in, mayhem instead of joy because some is not enough for Israel, or for Hamas. I pray that the wisdom of the Almighty can prevail before it is our end of days.

As a postscript, this dramatic shift in US foreign policy – this gives me hope.

As another postscript – Jon Snow of Britain’s Channel 4 has just returned from Gaza with this video editorial. Please watch and share, demand your government (wherever you live) have the United Nations intervene.

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odysseus

Journeying to your own Ithaca

There is nothing greater, more humbling, than to be truly seen and to have someone bestow the blessings of a long journey upon you ‘to Ithaca’. (And yes, I cried tears of gratitude as I was gifted with the video embedded below.)

How fragile our hold on living and life that we often neglect the supreme beauty of self found along the twists and turns of roads unknown and in navigating seas that awash decks with spray and waves which threaten to swamp us; these travels that make us more of who we are at our most essential until we arrive home. Buddha’s words resound throughout Homer’s The Odyssey and certainly are found in the ‘modern’ Greek poet Konstantinos Kavafis (1863-1933) both “What we Odysseus-Sirensthink, we become” and “Peace comes from within. Do not seek it without.” As my girlfriend Deborah so clearly understands my character, I dwell in the sensual and I fail to consider that there might be a Cyclops intent upon destroying me on my journey (so none appear).

And so, where you stand today, allow me to ‘pay it forward’ and share Kavafis’ (aka C.P. Cavafy’s) Ithaca words so eloquently read by Sir Sean Connery. That is all.

P.S. 20 July 2012 I received a message from a lovely (unknown) man from OKCupid who lives in Thessaloníki, Greece this morning. He graciously sent Ithaca, Ithaki, as read by a well regarded (and I believe deceased) actress which in the interest of authenticity I feel compelled to offer. I don’t know his name just his avatar but, thank you NnTt22.

Ithaca
When you set out on your journey to Ithaca,
pray that the road is long,
full of adventure, full of knowledge.
The Lestrygonians and the Cyclops,
the angry Poseidon — do not fear them:
You will never find such as these on your path,
if your thoughts remain lofty, if a fine
emotion touches your spirit and your body.

Kastelli Hill

Kastelli Hill, Atheras Bay, Cephalonia, Greece

The Lestrygonians and the Cyclops,
the fierce Poseidon you will never encounter,
if you do not carry them within your soul,
if your soul does not set them up before you.Pray that the road is long.
That the summer mornings are many, when,
with such pleasure, with such joy
you will enter ports seen for the first time;
stop at Phoenician markets,
and purchase fine merchandise,
mother-of-pearl and coral, amber and ebony,
and sensual perfumes of all kinds,
as many sensual perfumes as you can;
visit many Egyptian cities,
to learn and learn from scholars.Always keep Ithaca in your mind.
To arrive there is your ultimate goal.
But do not hurry the voyage at all.
It is better to let it last for many years;
and to anchor at the island when you are old,
rich with all you have gained on the way,
not expecting that Ithaca will offer you riches.Ithaca has given you the beautiful voyage.
Without her you would have never set out on the road.
She has nothing more to give you.

And if you find her poor, Ithaca has not deceived you.
Wise as you have become, with so much experience,
you must already have understood what Ithacas mean.

Constantine P. Cavafy (1911)

odysseus

Map of The Odyssey

Ιθάκη
Σα βγεις στον πηγαιμό για την Ιθάκη,
να εύχεσαι νάναι μακρύς ο δρόμος,
γεμάτος περιπέτειες, γεμάτος γνώσεις.
Τους Λαιστρυγόνας και τους Κύκλωπας,
τον θυμωμένο Ποσειδώνα μη φοβάσαι,
τέτοια στον δρόμο σου ποτέ σου δεν θα βρείς,
αν μέν’ η σκέψις σου υψηλή, αν εκλεκτή
συγκίνησις το πνεύμα και το σώμα σου αγγίζει.
Τους Λαιστρυγόνας και τους Κύκλωπας,
τον άγριο Ποσειδώνα δεν θα συναντήσεις,
αν δεν τους κουβανείς μες στην ψυχή σου,
αν η ψυχή σου δεν τους στήνει εμπρός σου.

Να εύχεσαι νάναι μακρύς ο δρόμος.
Πολλά τα καλοκαιρινά πρωϊά να είναι
που με τι ευχαρίστησι, με τι χαρά
θα μπαίνεις σε λιμένας πρωτοειδωμένους·
να σταματήσεις σ’ εμπορεία Φοινικικά,
και τες καλές πραγμάτειες ν’ αποκτήσεις,
σεντέφια και κοράλλια, κεχριμπάρια κ’ έβενους,
και ηδονικά μυρωδικά κάθε λογής,
όσο μπορείς πιο άφθονα ηδονικά μυρωδικά·
σε πόλεις Αιγυπτιακές πολλές να πας,
να μάθεις και να μάθεις απ’ τους σπουδασμένους.

Πάντα στον νου σου νάχεις την Ιθάκη.
Το φθάσιμον εκεί είν’ ο προορισμός σου.
Αλλά μη βιάζεις το ταξίδι διόλου.
Καλλίτερα χρόνια πολλά να διαρκέσει·
και γέρος πια ν’ αράξεις στο νησί,
πλούσιος με όσα κέρδισες στον δρόμο,
μη προσδοκώντας πλούτη να σε δώσει η Ιθάκη.

Η Ιθάκη σ’ έδωσε το ωραίο ταξίδι.
Χωρίς αυτήν δεν θάβγαινες στον δρόμο.
Αλλο δεν έχει να σε δώσει πια.

Κι αν πτωχική την βρεις, η Ιθάκη δεν σε γέλασε.
Ετσι σοφός που έγινες, με τόση πείρα,
ήδη θα το κατάλαβες η Ιθάκες τι σημαίνουν.

Κωνσταντίνος Π. Καβάφης (1911)

If you enjoy my blog please share it with your friends on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter – I am @TeresaFritschi. To order my book, please click on the cover art of my book below, thank you! 

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