Last Monday, I came home from running errands with my husband to discover my father had called. It’s well known in my family that if dad calls during the day, something is wrong, and this call was no exception. He had called to let me know that one of my step brothers had passed away the night before. This was the second one of my step siblings that had passed away in less than a year.
At 53 years old, Wally was the youngest of my step mother’s biological children. His death was sudden and completely unexpected.
My parent’s live in Springfield Missouri and since my father was too ill to travel, my brother who lives about an hour away from him went to watch him while my step mother and another step brother flew into O’Hare to stay with us for a few days so they could attend the memorial service.
They flew in on Thursday evening, and with the memorial service on Saturday, that left us with time to pass on Friday. Mom wanted to see a couple of independent living centers they were interested in so we spent the day doing that and running other errands.
My mother is slightly handicap and often walks with a cane – especially if she’s getting tired or in an unfamiliar location. To make things easier on her, I always pulled up to the door, got out of the car, helped her out of the car, parked the car and then came back to her. When we were leaving; I went and got the car , pulled it up to where she was waiting, helped her get into the car, shut her door and then drove on to our next location.
On Sunday, when we were heading to the memorial service, my mother decided she would ride with my two step brothers since for starters we couldn’t all fit into one car and second, so she could spend a little time with her son that lives here instead of in Missouri. There was about a half an inch of snow on the ground and the roads and pavement were slick with ice. Needless to say, I was completely in shock when my step brother parked the car at the funeral home and had my mother walk clear across the parking lot instead of dropping her off underneath the portico. He realized once she was half way across the parking lot that he could have done that. When we left the funeral home he did pull the car up for her so she didn’t have to make the trek again. Our next stop was a luncheon at a small dining hall, but once again, he parked the car instead of dropping her off at the door, and when they left, he again made her walk through the icy, slushy parking lot with her cane instead of picking her up.
By the way, my mother is 85 years old.
I was completely flabbergasted. Not only is she not well physically, she has had several small strokes – the most recent less than a month ago, she’s prone to falling and has pins in her leg and a new hip because of that. Add on top of that a recent airplane flight, all the running around the day before, and most importantly – the stress of losing her baby boy and you end up with a woman who actually should probably have been in a wheel chair, not trekking across snow covered parking lots.
:Later that night, when we were all back home and mom had some time to relax a little and attempt to unwind, we ended up in a conversation about the lack of respect Americans give to elderly people and to “age” in general, and how this differs from so many other countries in the world.
In other countries, old age is almost synonymous with wisdom and respect. Here in America it’s associated with being worn out or used up. We are told everyday in our country (just turn on the TV) that it’s not good to look old, that indeed it’s a bad bad thing. We have to wash the gray out of our hair. We have to inject our faces with literal poison to get rid of the wrinkles (often along with facial muscle control!) in order to try to make us look younger, newer. We are a population of people that has decided young and dumb is far more desirable than old and wise – that unfortunately says a whole lot about us as a people.
I refuse to buy into this attitude anymore. I admit I caved a while ago and did wash the gray out of my hair when I was trying to find a job, and unfortunately I think it made a difference. I had interviews with gray hair and didn’t get the job, but this interview as a younger looking brunette I got an offer almost immediately. Did it have anything to do with my hair color? I can’t be sure, but I can tell you there was an extreme lack of gray haired people where I had worked. (I have since left that job and that’s a whole other story!)
But, I won’t do it again. I’ve lived 41 years so far. I’ve raised 7 children. I’ve buried my mother, all my grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, my best friend, 2 siblings and many many more people. I have not had an easy life and with that has come gray hair. Each and every one representative of a battle I had to fight or endure. I may not always have come out on top, but more importantly even than winning:
1) I showed up, and
2) I made it through
Each one of those gray hairs that I now carry around with me are proof of another grain of wisdom I’ve acquired somewhere along the way.
I’m taking back the respect and power I deserve – the respect people have so desperately tried to take away from those who are older, The power that has been stripped from them when they start to age. There is no reason to hide our age, no reason to be embarrassed, no reason to try to pretend we are young and dumb instead of older and wiser. I hope others will join in with me and embrace their increasing age and show the utmost respect to those around them who truly deserve it.
At some point. one person came up with the idea that youth should be more desirable than maturity, and somehow that idea spread. Lets start spreading the ideas that wisdom and maturity are the truly desirable qualities people want to see in each other – not botox injections.
And the next time you go somewhere and you see an elderly person struggling with something, help them out. Hold the door open for them. Carry their groceries for them.
Whatever you do, simply do it with the upmost respect.
Monday, February 28, 2011
Monday, February 21, 2011
Music for Meditation: Inner Stillness CD by David and Steve Gordon. Sequoia Records. 2010.
This exquisite CD from David and Steve Gordon, is perfect for your meditation or even yoga practice. These soothing and refreshing songs will take you on a musical journey as you allow yourself to be swept away in their embrace.
With the different varying lengths, you can chose shorter songs for shorter meditations or simply allow the CD to play to participate in one longer meditation.
This CD is also great for helping you unwind and relax at night to get you into the proper mind set for a good night’s sleep.
I particularly like Bridge of Breath with its occasional wind chimes and really look forward to a warm and dry spring day (hopefully really soon!) where I can use this song in an outdoors meditation.
Tracks on this CD include:
1. Bridge of Breath 14:36
2. Entering the Now 13:47
3. Wave on the Ocean of Mind 6:59
4. Flowering of Consciousness 14:10
5 River to the Sea 7:32
6. The Limitless Way 14:16
I believe these songs would also bring an interesting aspect to any ritual if played as background music – most effectively with an outdoor late night full moon ritual.
Versatile and graceful, you are sure to find many different uses for this CD.
Thursday, February 17, 2011
Living as a River: Finding Fearlessness in the Face of Change by Bodhipaksa. Sounds True. www.soundstrue.com 2010
When I read this title I thought this would be a book interesting to a lot of readers – particularly with all the changes many families are going through as unemployment continues to be out of control, homes are still being lost, and the economy seems to be taking forever to recover.
However, I have to believe I was really wrong on this one.
I will start by admitting I’m not Buddhist, and while this book deals with some Buddhists teachings, that I was unaware of, and frankly could never agree with, that wasn’t my only problem with this book. It wasn’t even my biggest problem with this book.
My biggest problem was how insanely boring this book was. Yes there was a story here and there on something Buddha did, which those were brief yet interesting. Yet the vast majority of the book dealt with how you are not your “self” you are not a static individual therefore everything you see yourself as being isn’t really true because you change constantly. Ok, well I don’t agree with that, but to rephrase it, to tell stories of how the plane the Vin Fizz that took off on a trip across country isn’t the same one that landed because parts were changed, to go over and over and over and over an over the same thing again and again, was flat out annoying,
It was so repetitive, it would be like writing a book that says nothing but:
Ok, 5 seconds have passed, you are now different than you were 5 seconds ago.
Ok, another 5 seconds have passesd you are now different than you were 5 seconds ago.
Now another 5 seconds have gone by so you are different than you were 5 seconds ago.
On and on and on.
I don’t know, maybe for someone who practices Buddism this is a great revelation, for me it was nothing more than a waste of time.
Tuesday, February 15, 2011
The Lotus Room CD by David Gordon. Sequoia Records. www.sequoiarecords.com 2010
Sequoia Records never disappoints. Truly this is the best company I have found for versatile CDs and their catalog is simply loaded with great music
This CD from David Gordon is a collection of songs to relax and unwind the listener, yet these songs can be put to plenty of other uses as well. I have yet to find a CD by either of the Gordons that isn’t great for sitting and relaxing in the hot tub, yet of course this is so much more. Great ambiance background (or foreground!) music for a dinner party, night out on the deck or patio, or even yoga, it energizes while it relaxes replacing negative energy with clean, pure, positive energy. This CD is revitalizing and recharging. Perfect for exercise or to help you rejuvenate after a long day on the job.
Tracks on this CD include:
1) Hi-Fi Rendezvous
2) Buddha Nova
5) Forever in a Smile
6) A Night in Martinique
7) Alice under Skies
9) Out in the Morning
10) Rain in the Sun
11) Whole of the Moon
. Sequoia Records is great at providing soundtracks for real life.
Friday, February 11, 2011
The Yoga of Sleep: Sacred and Scientific Practices to Heal Sleeplessness CD by Rubin Naiman, PhD. Sounds True. 2010
2 CDs Running time: 2 hours
This two CD set is broken down into two sessions (one for each disc). The first disc delves into exactly what sleep is – from a scientific and a spiritual view and discusses why people have problems with sleep and why sleep is so important.
Dr. Naiman discuss how our view of sleep has changed making it a mechanical, technical process instead of a chance for our soul to refresh itself – he explains how we have lost the sacredness of sleep.
He further goes on to explain how many of the principles of yoga cross over to be the same principles we need to honor in order to get good, meaningful sleep.
By taking these principles and applying them to sleep, we are able to take back the sacredness, the spiritual aspect of sleep and adjust the way we view not only sleep, but night as well.
We are given both a scientific and a spiritual breakdown of what sleep is. While the scientific view is similar to what is generally taught in psychology classes, the sacred, spiritual view is quite different and just hearing this view is going to be a huge step for most people.
While the scientific view of sleep is often defined by what sleep is NOT – it’s not awake, and we often see sleep as a time of nothing, the sacred view of sleep is seen as the presence of peace and serenity.
Dr. Naiman also goes into deep details of different sleep problems, and then tells you how to start working around these areas.
While disc (session 1) focus on what sleep is and problems with sleeplessness, the second disc (session 2) is the application of the information and shows us how we can use “the yoga of sleep” to get the much needed sleep our bodies, minds, and spirits need.
Each of these sessions goes into a lot of depth and detail on what changes to make, and how to go about making those changes.
On the second disc, Dr. Naiman literall walks you through different practices and routines to help your body learn to make the transition from day time waking life to night time sleeping life.
I find it beneficial to have this information on CD instead of in book format partly because it is so relaxing to listen to. One of the discussions Dr.Naiman has, is that we are on information overload. When reading a book on what to do, we are going to have to remember, to be more focused on what we are doing rather than just doing it. The fact that we can just listen to the instructions and not have to worry about memorizing them or wondering if we are getting everything right, helps eliminate some of this information overload. The CD creates a quiet, peaceful way to learn the spiritual, sacred way of sleeping versus the technical, mechanical version.
I really enjoyed this CD set, and as a lifetime insomniac, have already started making some of these changes and have found these changes to be beneficial.
Tuesday, February 8, 2011
The Energy Cure: Unraveling the Mystery of Hands on Healing by William Bengston, PhD. Sounds True. 2010. www.soundstrue.com
In this book by William Bengston, a professor of sociology at St. Joseph’s College in New York – the author details different studies he conducted on a version of hands on energy healing that is done while the “healer” cycles different unrelated to the “patient” images through his/her mind that aid in drawing the focus away from what the healer is actually attempting to do.
Similar in theory to Reiki – in the aspect that it’s hands on healing – but different in practice when it comes to where the healer should be focusing.
According to Bengston, this technique works, though I’m not really sure what the benefits of it versus Reiki are, as this doesn’t get covered in this book.
I also found it interesting that the back cover comments and the author himself almost act as if hands on healing through any type of energy exchange is fairly new and that the person who created this “cycling” method is the first to perform energy healing with success.
While the book was interesting, and really quite easy to read, along with entertaining even in parts, I was disappointed that it didn’t really draw on any comparison with Reiki whatsoever, especially since Reiki is most likely the most popular, most well known type of energy healing out there.
Thursday, February 3, 2011
Ghosts CD by Llewellyn: Music inspired by true ghost stories of the UK. Paradise Music. www,paradisemusic.us.com 2009
A truly different idea!
Though you may imagine from the title, that this CD might sound like a bunch of spooky scary, music it is anything but.
Each song is created to tell a musical story centered around the ghost the song is based on.
For instance, the first song - “The Piper” we are treated with the forlorn sound of a pipe as its player seems to be traveling along a path – a path that led him to the gallows outside of Inveraray Castle. As the drummers kick in, we know he is ending his travels and has reached his destination. Though his death is lamented by the crowd, his pipe is soon heard being played again – though now a more ghostly piper is the musician.
Other tracks on this CD include:
2) Lady Hoby –Lady Hoby lived in Bisham Abbey (a Tudor House that Anne of Cleves had been given by Henry VIII), and shortly after murdering her own son, she died herself. In this song you can her ghostly wail as she searches…perhaps for the son she killed.
3) The Hooded Maiden- Near Ardfen on Loch Craignish a woman appears who is thought to be awaiting the return of her love. In this song the Hooded Maiden appears to carry on her sad, endless, lonely search.
4) The White Lady – The story of Marrion de la Bruyer at Ludlow Castle. Though Marrion had fallen in love with an enemy of Ludlow – her lover was only using her to gain access to the castle to attack with an army. When Marrion discovered his deceit, she killed him with his own sword and then threw herself from the battlements. In this song, the sound of waves gives in to the woman lamenting the betrayal she suffered
5) Borley Rectory – According to some, this may be the most haunted house in England. Reports of a ghostly nun and the remains of a young woman buried in the cellar, make up the story of this rectory. In this song, you can practically hear the nun floating regally through passageways, and she most definitely does not seem very happy to be in her current state as she calls out to anyone who can hear her.
6) Jenny Spinner – Said to have been imprisoned in Knebworth House in Hertfordshire, she worked all day long at a spinning wheel and died after going insane. The spinning of her wheel can still be heard even though the room she was imprisoned in was demolished 200 years ago. In this song, “Jenny Spinner” sits at her wheel making the most beautiful threads.
7) Babes in the Wood – Wayland Woods in Norfolk is where two children were left by their uncle’s servant. The spirits of these children are said to be seen walking hand and hand are often heard crying in the woods. In the song, you can feel the children skipping along in the woods, but then feel them turn scared and desperate as they try, unsuccessfully to find their way out again.
8) Hinxworth Place – When a frightened nursemaid accidently kills one of the boys she is watching, a young boy becomes the ghost of Hinxworth Place. In this song the young boy is heard playing – perhaps attempting to look over his younger brother. There also seems to be some remorse in frightening the nursemaid in the first place. Is he truly sorry for his actions – or just sorry that he ended up dead because of them?
9) The Ghost Ship – The ship Lady Luvibund was purposely caused to wreck by first mate John Rivers in a fit of jealous rage after the woman he was obsessed with married the Captain – Simon Reed. Everyone the ship were lost at sea. In this song we here those drastic moments when the ship is ripped to pieces and the souls ripped from the bodies of all aboard.
On the back of the CD, it says that song 9 (The Ghost Ship) is the bonus track. However when playing in Windows Media Player a tenth track is listed but only as track 10. No title or other information is given for this song.
The linear notes included do give a small bit of information about each ghost and the location it haunts, and two books are recommended if you would like to learn more about these famous ghost stories from the United Kingdom.
Even without knowing the stories behind these songs, each is beautiful in its own right. Llewellyn once again combines the sound of nature with modern techniques and creates a wonderful CD with music that would work well for meditation, yoga, or just plain relaxing.