Come As You Are

What A Glorious Day!

It has been a while.

It has been a very Full and Rich Year — Too Many Blessings to Count!

As LIVE THE QUESTIONS NOW continues to evolve, much of what we offer has been shifted to GRATEFUL READY OPEN WILLING.

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In thinking about Highlights of this past year, one that stands out is the talk that I got to do for FIND CENTER: COME AS YOU ARE.

I am including it here. May it either conclude this year for you in Gratitude and Appreciation for all that you have, or may it start the Coming New Year in Joyful Abundance and may you be inspired throughout the year, and our Lives, to spread generosity and Create Beautiful Things!

Enjoy!

Christmas Card 2021

A Story for a wintry afternoon…. As many of you know, my Christmas Card Story usually gets posted in the weeks following Christmas, sometime between Martin Luther King, Jr. Day and Easter Sunday. This year, this seems the perfect week for it. The temperatures are low and the daylight is short… perhaps a story about this little Bakery in the Italian Section of the Bronx a few years before the turn of the century will help remind us to appreciate how much Beauty and Value can be found in the simplicity of what we do. It is sprinkled with Miracles and Italian expletives!

It has been a wild ride these past two years. Perhaps Showing Up for our Lives is the Miracle!
The idea of sending this out after Christmas is in part to remind us all to celebrate Gratitude, Readiness, Openness and Willingness, and all the values of Christmas the whole year through… The other part is that it takes me a while to write it! 🙂
It is sent to you with Gratitude for our manifesting here upon this planet at the same time, for our paths crossing, for the Life that we share, and with Love…

The Course in Miracles says, “There is no such thing as coincidence and chance plays no part in God’s plan.” The poet, HAFIZ, says, “This place where you are now. God circled on a map for you.”

 And so, inspired by the idea of just how Lucky and Blessed we truly are, I offer the following story…
Perhaps you would like to make yourself a cup of hot chocolate, or bubbling herbal tea, or some delightful warm beverage, and take a little time to cozy up and enjoy this Story Adventure…

Un Fornaio Cuoce (A Baker Bakes)

By Arnold J. Mungioli

I. * * * * Mama * * * *

You would have thought her a crusty old lady. Pugnacious and confrontational, Mama was a tough First Generation Italian American Woman from the Bronx with a heart of gold! If you were a child and walked into her bakery, you would often be hit over the head with a breadstick just a little too hard, and then she would smile the warmest smile and hand it to you. It was an act of generosity, as she saw it. She had made the breadstick herself, so it was a heartfelt and handmade gift. Moreover, she never wanted to see any child go hungry. But no kid likes to be hit over the head with a breadstick. Often the children would cry just from the shock of it, not because they were hurt at all. And Mama would dismiss the child disparagingly and unsympathetically as “shpeel la beep’,” “mingherlino” or “affamato.” She didn’t trust skinny people. And she held firm the belief that to spare the rod was to spoil the child.

“Shpeel la beep’” in Mama’s Italian dialect meant literally, “pipe cleaner” and was used derogatorily to insult a skinny person. Growing up as her daughter — a Second Generation Italian American Girl — these dialect expressions would fly by when the families got together – sometimes you would get a translation. More often than not, you’d get slapped for asking because somehow you were supposed to know that it was a dirty word and not appropriate to ask about that one.

Eventually you would learn to just accept that some phrases get translated and others you just have to figure out for yourself – decipher from sequence context. As I tell you Mama’s story, you’ll learn to do that too.

: Christmas Card 2021 (more…)

Aut Inveniam Viam Aut Faciam*

How much do we Love a Snow Holiday!

Enjoying a piping hot cup of somethin’ as we look out the window at Nature’s Blanket of Pure White Beauty, making everything new again, as she whispers to us, “Pause. You can start Fresh. Now.”

There is infinite Comfort & Peace in the Breathtaking Beauty of Nature and her most perfect rhythms.

We didn’t have many Snow Holidays when I was a kid – almost none.

(more…)

A Daily Walk

Photo from Social Media

How does one reach across the aisle on this?

The other day, I posted the following comment to a friend from High School who had posted “BIDEN is NOT My President”:

I Hear what you are saying and I am listening to your pain about it. I do think that some of the media in your circles may have spun things a certain way. Really, I know lots of people and Lots of Liberals in the Theater World and various Communities to which I belong. I don’t know ANYONE — I mean, ANYONE — who supports Looting or Socialism or any of the things that I understand that you fear. For most of us, BIDEN would not have been our choice of Candidate, mostly because he seems way too Centrist — almost more toward Republican. In fact, his views are so moderate that most of us think of him as what we perceived Republicans to be before tRUMP. So, in a way, I feel like he is an ideal Candidate for this transition. I know that you supported tRUMP and obviously you saw some good in his policies and what he did. But that may have caused you to turn a blind eye to the indignities many Americans were suffering — People with Disabilities, People of Color, Gay People, Middle Class People… and his handling of the Coronavirus speaks for itself. So maybe consider, instead of pre-paving how awful it will all be, what good can come of a more Centrist Democrat in this transition. I understand that because tRUMP was so extremist, it may feel like a great personal loss, and it may seem that BIDEN is a far flung Leftist by comparison. But maybe some of tRUMP’s extremes were a bit too far. Perhaps — just perhaps — we could begin now to build less walls and more bridges, and maybe that will yield some Good things, as well. I am not trying to convince you or change your mind — just introducing the possibility that a lot of the extreme leftist policies that seem so terrifying to you may not be what this is. It may seem that way, because tRUMP was so far in the other direction, but maybe there will be some good that comes of it. The restoring of dignity to the office of President and having someone who speaks respectfully to others I will consider a great step forward for us all, and especially for your children’s future! XXOO

His response was basically that Liberals have been so mean that they cannot be forgiven – there was a “Not You!” included in the middle of that which I appreciated, although I can be pretty mean when I feel people’s rights are being threatened, as this retiring administration has repeatedly done since Day One. So I am not so sure it’s not me!

(more…)

World Right Side Up

A dozen or so years ago,
I visited a Shaman.
He waved a large eagle wing back and forth over me.
He took me on a Journey of Soul Retrieval – we did not see the wolf which I am given to understand means that my Soul did not need to be retrieved. Apparently, I have all of it with me – so that’s a relief!
He danced and chanted and drank some green juice from a glass bottle with a long thin neck – then gargled and spit it across my body…
That doesn’t happen every day!
He explained to me that there is a group of Shamans from all over the World who meet in some sacred place — maybe somewhere in South America — once every fifty years to hold sacred ceremonies for several days during which they receive a Message from the gods about the World in the coming Half Century.
He told me that in the 1950’s when they had last met, the Message they received was,
“World Upside Down!”
More recently, just after the start of this Century, they convened once again and received the Message for this Half Century:
“World Rightside Up!”

Events of these past two decades – and in particular, these past three and a half years – may not make us feel that the World is Rightside Up! Quite the contrary, it feels we are through the Looking Glass, especially this past 100 days or so.
And yet… (more…)

RANDOM KINDNESS AND SENSELESS ACTS OF BEAUTY

Do you know this Ted Talk?

 

It’s by SHAWN ACHOR. And while it would be difficult to say that any one TED TALK is my favorite of all time– this one is certainly up there!

I encourage you to watch it!

SHAWN — an advocate of Positive Psychology — recommends five actions, which when practiced every day for three weeks will help us to a more positive mindset and happiness: (more…)

Messier Than Usual

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Step Forward. It’s Messy!

As folks mostly know, this is Messy March!
Oh, I realize we are nearly a week into April!
And Celebrating Messy March in April… isn’t That Messy!???

Messy March is a Season I celebrate, and it is not literally the 31 Days of March, so much as it is a state of Permission to Make Mistakes, Try Stuff, Take a Risk, and Make a Mess.
I celebrate Messy March every year, and the timing is always So Perfect! It seems to show up just when it’s needed Most!

Not satisfied with where things are?
Take a Risk!
Make a Mess!
Boldly Dare!
Rarely do we risk everything and witness every next step of our Journey going smoothly.
When we brazenly risk, we shake things up!
And the first step of an improvement or a change of course can often be Mess
The Possibility for something new begins at the end of our Comfort Zone!
It’s the stuff we need to do that we don’t know how to do that will lead us to the next phase of our Journey.
And here we are
In the Messy Middle!
In the April of Messy March!
This March has been So Messy that I haven’t even had time to publish this post until Now!
My friend RICK, whom you may have read about in previous Messy March Posts  and who was the Inspiration for this Season’s Creation, has been equally swamped and it looks like we shall be celebrating this year’s Messy March sometime later this month!
And we invite You to do the same! (more…)

WORTH IT?

A Silly Picture of my Partner and his GrandMother

My Partner’s GrandMother has a Significant Other.
His name is FRED.
They have been together as long and as sincerely committed as my Partner and I,
And though of an earlier generation, they have been as completely accepting of our Same-Sex Relationship, and Same-Sex Marriage, as any post-modern-thinking Friends we have — Right from the Beginning!
GrandMother just turned 91.
And a few weeks ago, FRED, a very healthy 85-year old who did everything for her and on whom she depended, suddenly and unexpectedly died.
My Partner went out to California for the funeral service,
And that night, GrandMother had a stroke.

So here is this woman who uses a walker and has trouble getting around.
She is fiercely independent, insisting upon no help from Aides and CareGivers.
And suddenly, unexpectedly, she finds herself alone.
She is frightened. She is sad.
She has a stroke and is now in rehab.
She only wants to be home.
We are figuring out how to get some help in — an Aide a few hours a day and what she can afford, as in this country, there is very little provided to care for its Aging Population. Our CongressPersons, of course, continue to get their salaries and their elitist Health Care Plan for Life. But for the rest of us, whom they are elected to serve, there is little.
Such is the Disgrace of every American CongressPerson.

Life ahead was looking somewhat bleak to her before she had the stroke.
91 years old, somewhat infirm, and having just Lost her Partner who was her Everything, and the Person she depended upon…
One is almost forced to ask, “Is it Worth it?”

“YES!” comes the answer.
Life is Life!
If we are wondering if we have served our purpose and completed what it is that we came here to do, and if we are still alive, the answer is, “No!”
There is more to Do!
And perhaps we see life a certain way.
Perhaps we do not see ourselves as ever becoming elderly and infirm.
Perhaps we see ourselves with hips and knees that always work,
or sight that never gives out,
or lucky enough to have a heart that’s not broken.
And if we are fortunate enough to enjoy these gifts longer than others, then Yahoo!
But for most of us, we give up things as we age.
We gain things, also — Wisdom, Perspective, Understanding…
I remember a song I learned in Catholic Grammar School which named the Gifts of the Holy Spirit; the lyrics went:

The Miracle of our Daily Bread

“Wisdom,
Understanding,
Counsel,
And Fortitude,
Knowledge and
Piety,
Fear of the Lord,
Gifts of the Spirit,
Working within me,
Helping me do things in just the right way…”

These Gifts seem, for the most part,
more alive in the elderly than in any other demographic of friends I see.
And so, Yes!
There are So Many Gifts we receive,
Even as we are called upon to give up so many of the comforts we have known.

And so, while one might be tempted to ask,
“Is it worth it?”
The answer comes — an unqualified and resounding, “YES!”

The telephone that still hangs on the wall in GrandMother’s Home

GrandMother is a Marvel!
She worked for the telephone company so many years ago — back in the forties when it was the way one may see in old movies, connecting plugs into a switchboard to put calls through, connecting the entire town with one another.
And she has lived into the age of SmartPhones dominating the culture.
She went to work at a Pharmaceutical Company back in the Fifties, when the workforce was dominated by men — on the wall of the warehouse, the men had an enormous poster of a naked woman with her legs spread wide open. Upon arrival, she pointed to it and unapologetically announced to the Foreman, “I want that taken down!” There were few enough women in the work force back then that no one had dared to comment on it. She took a step further and told them, “If that’s still up there tomorrow, I will bring an equivalent size photo of a naked man with his legs spread in the same position and I will put that up there! Equal Rights!”

This Woman is Awesome!
And even now in her old age and frailty, she lives a Life of Outspoken Courage!
And YES, this Life is worth Living!
Every Moment!

Whatever we do without…
Whatever we may compare ourselves to, in riches or beauty, or status…
Whatever we may lose along the way…
It is Always worth it!

Let us respect the Inestimable Value of Human Life!
Let us remember that this Life we live — this Precious and Valuable Gift —
Is the Greatest of All Wonders!
No matter What!
When we have been together with our LifePartner for Decades,
Or our Pet has been by our side for ten or fifteen years,
It may be hard to think of Life as worth Living when they have departed.
Too Painful?
Perhaps. Who would deny that?
But even a Life fraught with Pain and Challenges and Confusion, and Ailments and Knees that don’t work quite the same way as they once did, and the Loneliness of our Signifcant Other gone before, leaving us with that hole in our hearts that cannot ever be filled in this Lifetime…
Even that Life is still US.
Here.
Present.
Living
In a Physical Body.
Some Body
With skin and bones and musculature and a Beating Heart…
Our Soul — bruised and battered.
Whatever it is that makes this 98% Water and 2% Dust get up and walk around
And See
And Think
And Experience the World around us…
And we are Here!
With Other People!
Constantly interweaving our Stories…
And with the Ever-Looming Possibility of Love
In all its Infinite Forms!

Worth It!

And it is So Worth It!
YES!
This Gift of Life
On Whatever Life’s Terms
Is Unquestionably
Unequivocally
Uncontestably
Unambiguously
Unmistakably
Undeniably
Irrefutably
Incontrovertibly
Indisputably
Indubitably
WORTH IT!

# # #

My Strong, Good, Courageous, Positive-Thinking, Magical Marvelous Friend! Part I

As soon as the call came through, the airplane cabin was flooded with light coming through my window

There is nothing quite like that call.
When someone is not well, or elderly, or in hospice care, and you get that call from their next of kin.
It may come in the form of a voicemail, their saddened shell-shocked voice asking simply to return the phone call. And of course, you know what’s happened, but they feel it’s impolite to leave such potentially devastating news on a voicemail.
And they are right about that.
It is certainly better to deliver such news in person.
It may come as a voicemail message delivering the news and requiring no return call, ‘She’s gone.’ I’ve been on the receiving end of that one, as well.
It may come as the name of their next of kin lights up on your cell phone screen, and you answer it, even as you are seated on a plane about to take off…
That’s what happened this time.
“This is the call you’ve been waiting for,” she began, her voice a combination of the triumph and weariness of Acceptance, when one has completed that final Journey with a Loved One.

My friend had been in hospice care for several weeks —
My Strong, Good, Courageous, Positive-Thinking, Magical Marvelous Friend!
My Incredible Friend who was so shy about social media and asked to never have pictures of herself posted here.
I shall not go against her wishes, now.
Ah, but how I wish I could show you!
(more…)

It’s Noble What We Do

geoffrey-owensGEOFFREY OWENS is a friend of mine.
He is a Class Act — a Wonderful Actor, and an even More Wonderful Human Being!
He achieved some celebrity status when right after graduating from the Yale School of Drama, he played the character of Elvin on THE COSBY SHOW.
I was the Casting Assistant on that show for several seasons, and between that and our mutual social circles, we have known one another some thirty years.

You may have heard some of the hubbub this week, created when some pathetic ignoramus took a picture of GEOFFREY working at Trader Joe’s and in an abuse of social media, (more…)