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…)

Compassion

Has there ever been a Greater Opportunity!
Now, we get to Discover Ourselves as Helpers!
It has been just about a week – at least in the life of this busy New York Show Business Professional – and already I have been contacted by at least five people asking me if I need anything or if there is anything they can do to Help.
Support Systems are offering Zoom Conferencing and new ways for us to continue to Care for one another through this.
I had a Zoom Brunch yesterday with a group of friends from across Canada.
People are reaching out by phone and text and social media…
The Digital Age which has challenged me every day since its arrival turns out to be one of our Greatest Miracles, after all
Connecting our Humanity.
I am overwhelmed by the Awakening of Compassion that I feel vibrating through the world!

These are challenging times!
I recognize that people are struggling, out-of-work, and feeling the financial and food insecurities that are now prevalent in a Country under the government of dONALD tRUMP’s Administration.
I do not mean to minimize any of that.

But (more…)

Season of Thanks!

The Feast!Do you have one of those perfectly set Williams Sonoma Thanksgiving Tables?
I do not.
My Holidays in general are perfectly imperfect!
They are messy. They require a lot of cleaning and washing of dishes. They’re a lot of work.
And they’re always worth it!
Our culture nowadays promotes convenience, and sells us the idea that convenience can be purchased — and to some degree that may be true.
But it is at a much higher cost than it may appear — if we buy too much into the idea that convenience without any mess is possible, we miss the Heart of it all.
And we set up a false expectation that the result is more important than the process.

(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…)

AMAZING GRACE

Amazing Grace
By Arnold J. Mungioli

I wake up a Crazy Wretch,
Tortured by all that I haven’t achieved,
Insane with perceived lack…
My Inner Critics reveling at a tea party on my head,
Full ground-length lace tablecloth and tea china, perfectly set.
Finger sandwiches of So Many Varieties
Cucumber and Self-Deprecation
Comparings and Clotted Cream
Watercress with No Self Esteem and a sprinkling of “How Dare You” Salt
I wake up choking on a mouthful of these Tiny Sandwiches
Grateful that it’s only High Tea,
And not their Holiday Grand Buffet.

I am awash in my own UnWorthiness.
Lost
Blind
Fearful
UnBelieving.
Now,
Here,
The Sun Shines in my window,
As if God is looking in, (more…)

Gratitude and Helping Others

Kate Spade: Photo from the internet

Anthony Bourdain: A meme from the internet

KATE SPADE, 55 years old
ANTHONY BOURDAIN, 61 years old

…This Week joining the likes of
MARILYN MONROE, 36 years old
ERNEST HEMINGWAY, 61 years old
VINCENT VAN GOGH, 37 years old
SYLVIA PLATH, 30 years old
VIRGINIA WOOLF, 59 years old
FREDDIE PRINZ, 22 years old
SAWYER SWEETEN, 19 years old
ALEXANDER MCQUEEN, 40 years old
DON CORNELIUS, 78 years old
ROBIN WILLIAMS, 63 years old

When I was in 2nd Grade in Catholic Grammar School, the Dominican Nun at the front of the room was teaching us about Sin and Forgiveness.
“Sister, is there any sin that is not forgivable?” myself or some other curious seven-year old raised their hand to ask.
(more…)

THANK FULL!

Sign on our Door

I am Grateful for Music.
I am Grateful for Laughter!
I am Grateful for Colors — Every One of them!
Purple, Orange, Magenta, Mahogany, Yellow, Mauve, Red, Green, Silver and Gold, Blue, Pink, Violet, Chartreuse, Ochre, Burnt Sienna, Indigo, Scarlet, Peach, Ruby, Azure, Cream and Crimson… and all those Colors in the sky that don’t even have names!
I am Grateful for the Sky
And the Ocean,
Every Blade of Grass
And Every Leaf!
I am Grateful for MOM!
I am Grateful for my BigHearted Partner!
I am Grateful for my Very Amazing Friends!
I am Grateful for my Education!
I am Grateful for the Challenges that Teach Me!
I am Grateful to Know.
I am even More Grateful to Question!

I am Grateful for Transportation, even though the MTA makes me Crazy most Days!
I am Grateful for my Meditation Process even though it’s messy and sloppy and I don’t really achieve a state of Nirvana, except for Fleeting Moments — I think that’s normal, and even if it’s not, I am Grateful for it!
I am Grateful for the Crazy Last Minute Jobs and my humble little Office in Manhattan and for the Gift of Work!
I am Grateful for Health — with its Second-Half-of-Life Challenges! We’re Here!
I am Grateful for Clothing!
For My Bed!
And for HousePlants
And Magic… So Much MAGIC!
And So Many MIRACLES!
And for the Miracle of the Day!

Such a Festive Plate! So Many Autumn Colors!

I am Grateful for Breath
And Being Born
And all of the sacrifices my parents made so I could have my Education
And Books
And Carfare…

I am Grateful for the Crazy amount of Cooking that this Holiday Entails!
So far, I have made Macaroni and Cheese (Not a usual dish at our GivingThanks Day Table, but I like to mix it up a bit!)
Ratatouille (It’s nice to have some Healthy Low Calorie Leftovers too!)
Fudge Oat Bars (It’s also nice to have some Treats and not worry about Calories!)
Homemade Cranberry Sauce (with no sugar — This year I cooked the CranBerries in Orange Juice with cinnamon sticks as usual, but tried reducing the Orange Juice, added a can of Crushed Pineapple in its own juice, and some tiny slices of fresh orange!)
HomeMade AppleSauce which reminds me of COUSIN ALICE!

Oh, How I Adored Her!
Such an Enchanting Human Being!
Such a Delight!
I remember once, as a Kid, saying to MAMA, “I Love Her!”
MAMA assured me with a smile, “She knows!”
I suppose I tend to wear my Heart on my Sleeve a bit.
When you would go to COUSIN ALICE’s House — she was in her Eighties —
She would have Cold Cuts and a spread of freshly sliced tomatoes, pickles, coleslaw — all store bought fresh for your visit.
And she would put out some HomeMade Apple Sauce.
It was Delicious!
I never got her recipe, and I expect she didn’t really follow one.
But I found one — some Awesome friends gave me The Comfort Diner CookBook years ago, and there was a Wonderful Recipe for HomeMade AppleSauce — simple, easy and Delicious, just the way COUSIN ALICE liked her Cooking to be!
Here it is:
Comfort Diner Apple Sauce

I leave out the sugar and the raisins, and I double the spices.
I try to avoid sugar in general, and COUSIN ALICE loathed Raisins.
I remember she once told us, quite cheerfully, “This nice young girl moved in just a few houses down here, and she knocked on my door and said, ‘I baked you a Zucchini Bread!’ I thought that was So Nice! So I thanked her and…” Here her voice dropped several octaves and her demeanor changed dramatically
“Wouldn’t you know it! Loaded with Raisins!” and she gave a big frown!

So I leave out the Raisins, and the Sugar.
But Giving Thanks Day is the Holiday that COUSIN ALICE always spent with us.
DAD adored her! (She was technically his Cousin, so my First Cousin, Once Removed.) DAD would drive out to Staten Island to pick her up on Wednesday, drive her back to the Bronx where we lived; she would stay with us two nights, and he would drive her back to Staten Island on Friday.

I miss her.
She is gone some ten years now.

A Meme from the Internet

And So, Today,
We Celebrate Giving Thanks!
That is the root of this Holiday.
As LINDSAY MCVAY writes on the website of the National Museum of the American Indian  about the Wampanoag People who celebrated with the Pilgrims what we think of as the First “ThanksGiving,”

“Like indigenous groups everywhere, the Wampanoag had a reciprocal relationship with nature and believed that as long as they gave thanks to the bountiful world, it would give back to them. Long before the arrival of the Pilgrims, the Wampanoag held frequent Thanksgiving-like celebrations, giving thanks in the form of feasts and ceremonial games.”

In honor of GivingThanks Day Today,
I made a Feast which includes:

GivingThanks Day 2017 with MOM

Turkey,
Sausage Stuffing,
Sweet Potatoes,
Homemade Cranberry Sauce,
Cranberry Mold (Another of COUSIN ALICE’s Signature Dishes!)
Stuffed Mushrooms,
Ratatouille,
Macaroni and Cheese,
Broccoli & Cauliflower Au Gratin
Apple Cake,
Oat Fudge Bars…

And HomeMade Apple Sauce.

Stuffed Mushrooms

I also learned today that when making an Apple Cake in a Tube Pan, if you plan to turn it upside down to cool, it is Better to let it cool and set for 15 minutes or so before you do that! 🙂 Whoops!

There is So Much for which to be Grateful!
How Blest we Are!
The LeftOvers will last for a week.
Let’s make sure the Celebration of Gratitude that this Feast represents lasts for a LifeTime!

The Complete Door

Happy GivingThanks Day!

# # #

My First Diwali

Arrival in Delhi

Annnnnnd… I’m Here!
…In India
For my First Diwali.

In my last post, I talked about how exciting and Beautiful I find this Holiday!
Read about that HERE
And here I am!
And now, let us talk of Miracles…
About the power of Manifestation…
About all that can Happen for you!
As Abraham Hicks says, “It is as easy to create a Castle as a Button!”

Last April, a Very Special Friend was due to have a Very Special Birthday!
Her Husband, another Very Special Friend, told me a year before that he was taking her to India, and he thought it would be Fun to surprise her with a group of her friends showing up for Breakfast at the same hotel where they’d be staying.
This was all meticulously planned for last April,
But a series of events caused the trip to be rescheduled for Autumn.
A week before we left, my friend said to me, “By the way, you know it’s some festival while we’re there next week. There’s something going on in India then. I think it’s called, ‘Diwali.’”
I Gasped with a sound I had never heard come out of me before — It was some kind of Jubilation mixed with Blissful Recognition and AwesomeSauce!
“DIWALI!!!???”
(more…)

Miracles in the Tapestry

My weathered copy of HENRIK IBSEN’s A DOLL’S HOUSE

As a Casting Director, I have to see pretty much Everything.
Knowing Actors’ performances & capabilities beyond what they might do in the Audition Room is essential.
It enables me to speak up for them!
It is Important, and a responsibility which I take very seriously.

I know to those not in Show Business, this might seem terribly glamorous —
What a Great Job!
Imagine if seeing Shows all the time were your Work!
Well, YES!
I Love my Work!
But as it happens, Producers do not provide Casting Directors with free tickets. (These are the same Producers who expect me to have seen everything when they hire me!)
So, I do a lot of Rush Tickets.

Having been away for a few weeks,
And with a heavy Travel Schedule over this past little while,
I had some shows to catch up on.
It was my plan (more…)