There’s nothing like a morning at the Department of Motor Vehicles to gauge how you’re doing and, thanks to my tool kit of spiritual practices, my curiosity, love of people and sense of humor – I not only passed with flying colors but have a tale worth telling.

Since I am not really in a position to support two cars, I advertised my beloved jeep on Craig’s list and went with the first offer of my bottom line. After a few calls back and forth during which the buyers were clearly frustrated with how things work here, I arranged to meet them at the DMV at 8 in the morning.

Since they were an hour late, it was lucky that I brought the perfect book: Heal Thy Self: Lessons on Mindfulness in Medicine  by Saki Santorelli– an account of a 6 week mindfulness meditation class. The hour passed quickly, thanks not only to the book but to the collection of local talent that gathered to deal with their cars. As usual, there was a star – this time a witty complainer who kept everyone entertained with bets on when the territorial court lady would show up (9:20) and on how things in the territory were going to hell in a hand basket and much more. In between listening, I looked around at the people on line, the people coming and going and it was an amazing sight to behold. Some were clearly disgruntled, in a rush and, expecting an ordeal, nodded in agreement at the entertainer’s complaints. Others were calm, collected and like the tall, very buff, handsome man who caught my eye, exuded well being, patience, good humor and equanimity.

Most people came through the door, found their lines and took their places, muttering good morning under their breath. Others, like the young woman, who book in hand, said good morning in a warm, friendly voice, lit up the whole room as did the joker who said a loud bi-lingual Morning,morning, Buen Dias and cracked jokes that had everyone in stitches.

My buyers showed up and at every step of the process dug in their heels. When I suggested using my insurance company, right across the road, they told me they’d decided to use a company in Red Hook and relented only when they realized that it would add another couple of hours to their day (and mine) to traverse the island and return to the DMV. There was a lot of door slamming, going outside to smoke cigarettes, whispered conferences between them and what felt like a toxic energy spill that I side stepped by deciding to keep my mouth shut, by moving to another seat and by practicing what the book I was reading reminded me about being non-judgmental and present to all and everything – to good the bad and the ugly.

I actually had a pretty good old time. I ran into several people I hadn’t seen in ages, handed out my business cards, found out that a friend is leaving island and selling his house – information that I shared with a friend looking to buy a house and I set up a date with a former neighbor.

It was crystal clear that how people fared had little to do with the DMV and everything to do with them. Looking up from my book about a class in mindfulness, I realized that I was in a class that that had just shifted it’s location to the DMV where I was really trying to encounter everything through the lens of mindfulness and to decide anew each and every minute to abstain from the long held reactive habits that wanted to label these people, judge them, dislike them, get angry and go off and to decide anew each minute to open and soften my heart, to feel compassion for this couple who were struggling with being new to the island and with god only knows what else. I knew I didn’t want to engage or be in the midst of their toxic spill but clicking into mindfulness mode I was free of the anger and judgment that would have been my toxic spill and it fell so different and so good that I wanted to share it with you.

For the past week I’ve been listening (as my daughter used to say, 24/7) to a CD called the Infinite Field by the beautiful, talented Pru Clearwater who is visiting from Nashville. Her bell like voice and soothing arrangements are like mantras and the words to the one that came to my mind in that most unlikely of places the DMV are, repeated over and over mantra style: The world is a beautiful place, the world is a beautiful place, the world is a beautiful place, I see beautiful things, I hear beautiful things, I find beautiful things sung over and over and over again – Amen, Aho, It is so.

Click on the link below to listen to Beautiful World by Pru Clearwater – a great thing to download and listen to at the DMV or anywhere.

Beautiful World

Green Light Living – Avenue B and 10th Street, NYC

Growing up in Manhattan, I walked a lot and perfected my own fluid way of getting from one place to another with the least possible delay – a way I’m calling Green Light Living. En route to my destination I’d stop briefly at each corner in that grid like part of New York and cross which ever way the light was green. I zigzagged my way through the city, like tacking under sail, going with the wind, following the beckoning green light path of least resistance.

Acutely aware lately that I get to choose whether to follow the green light (path of least resistance) or stop at the red light, I’ve been taking more opportunities to choose out of the hundreds that present themselves each day.

Sometimes, lost in mindless meandering I am jolted awake by the honk of the horn behind me or, waiting forever, finally notice the light that keeps flashing green to my right, or decide to risk the route I’ve never taken to bypass a construction delay.

I was grumbling to myself, looking at the money-in-money-out figures of my life. Disappointed at how one stream of income was showing up this month I could feel myself getting anxious and tense. When a phone call the next day resulted in a new client I thought, change direction, be flexible, as Tavis Smiley says “Keep the faith” – Green Light.

In Green light living every juncture is a opportunity to choose: who to be, what to think, what to do, whether to wait for the light to change or go with the green, choose love or fear?

Halfway to Magen’s for my morning paddle I realized that I didn’t have my paddle because I’d loaned it to my daughter. Bummed, I almost turned around but for meeting a friend. I decided I’d second choice walk instead. Once at the beach I looked over at the concession and saw a stack of paddles in the open shed. Figuring they wouldn’t mind I borrowed one and off I went to do what I really wanted to do and said good morning to my turtle friends. Green light.

I needed a truck to move furniture to my house and the few calls I’d made hadn’t panned out – red light. When I mentioned my quandary to my daughter, she said that the friend who was drinking my mango smoothie at that very moment had a truck. Green Light

Living green starts in the heart chakra whose color is green and when you’re living green – it’s as though the red carpet is being rolled out in front of you. The first traffic light system is an inner one – red lined up with caution and fear and green with go ahead and love. When we get the go ahead from our hearts we are a vibrational match for heart centered opportunities and for things flowing, easy peasey, meant to be, sometimes what we pictured and often surprising us. When we are lined up inside and out, I like to think we pulsate green like ET.  We ARE home.

Green light living is not just about the big stuff because the big stuff is made up of lots of little stuff. Each time we question our thoughts, check in with ourselves, get clear about what we are feeling and needing, refocus, set an intention, choose love over fear, we are in a better position to choose wisely, roll out more red carpet and reap the promises of joyful deliberate creation.

Here’s my invitation:  Let’s Live a Green Light kind of life, wending our way across the universe, enjoying the journey, cushioned by the  red carpet of least resistance and taking our cue from the green lights in our hearts.

If abundance were measured in mangos we’d all be rich here in the Virgin Islands. Like a value laden stock portfolio I check the state of my grafted mango tree each morning to see if the thrushies have found the fruit ripe enough too peck at so I can pick it before they treat it like a sampler box of chocolates, taking a out of bite of each piece and then putting it back in the box.

If the red and yellow flamboyants dotting our island home are any indication of the passionate, colorful lives we lead we’d have to take turns being featured on the life-styles of the rich and famous or the celebrity channel and let’s not forget about super moon bonuses paid out in shimmering silver like Oprah handing out cars or tickets to Australia; sunrises and sunsets so dazzling that they command audiences larger than the biggest summertime block buster and a winter time that I’ve come to call rainbow season where we each have our day basking in the pot of gold at the end of the spectrum.

We behold more stars on any given night than anyone in NYC sees in a lifetime except at the Hayden Planetarium and we don’t just sing about the fish jumping but get to witness the drama of life and death on the high seas on a daily basis.

The Law of Attraction suggests that whatever we focus on expands whether it’s a dwindling bank account or random money found in last season’s jacket pocket. Since we are vibrational beings – pure energy – we attract people, places, situations and things that have a similar vibrational frequency to our own. If we’re vibrating at the lower end of the scale feeling powerless and depressed we tend to draw people, places, things and situations with similar vibrations into our lives – as in misery loves company and when we’re scowling, the whole world seems to be scowling too and the bad news is what’s hot off the press. When we’re smiling the whole world smiles back at us and it’s a bright sun-shiney day or at least a rainy day full of clouds with silver linings.

The only reason we ever want anything – whether it’s a Porsch, true love, a day off or a raise – is because we think it will make us happy – and the best way to be a vibrational match for happy is to feel happy now. It doesn’t matter what we’re happy about or if we’re in that delicious state of joy of happy for no reason – irrespective of the state of our bank account, relationship status, career trajectory, number of bedrooms or pool or no pool. A focus on abundance can only result in an expansion of abundance in our lives – it’s the law.

Sustaining that focus can be a serious challenge if we are used to coming from a place of lack, of not enough, of I’ll feel good when….. my ship comes in, I get the job, the guy, the house, the car (fill in the blank).

An underlying theme for many of us when we scrape the surface is that we are not good enough. We didn’t get good enough grades, weren’t good enough to fulfill the expectations of our parents or teachers or our culture’s mandates, don’t have ideal bodies or an ‘acceptable’ sexual orientation or mainstream political views. We are brought up to think that the pie is limited and that like a piñata at kids birthday party, if we don’t rush in to gather the candy that drops to the ground, it will be gone or like a game of musical chairs, if we don’t rush, and push someone out of the way we may be the one left standing.

It’s a lot of programming to overcome – all this negative pr about ourselves, about the state of the economy, the environment and the world at large. What if we have been sold a bill of goods and not knowing any better have bought it. What if there is more than enough to go around – enough food, enough money, enough love for everyone. What if we don’t really have to scramble, compete, steal, hoard, stockpile and live in fear. What if we turned that formula on it’s head and relaxed, collaborated, shared, trusted, distributed and understood that giving and receiving are part of the same loop – whether it’s money or love or our attention that we’re giving.

There’s no better time to tune into this message than mango season and I like nothing better than to stop and pick up bags of fallen mango and delight in the impromptu fruit stands that have popped up everywhere with their neat little piles of yellow goodness arranged carefully on roadside tables making me think that Fort Knox is leaking golden ingots and reminding me that paradise is merely a thought away and that it’s our home.

I started playing the violin about 6 years ago and have taken lessons on and off ever since.   improvement is always in direct proportion to how much I practice as well as to the guidance of the several wonderful teachers.

The violin program at the Montessori school was preparing for it’s final violin recital last week and I was hemming and hawing about whether I’d participate. The dress rehearsal went badly and I have to thank a parent I saw at Picassa’s the next morning for her encouragement. When I shared my reluctance to play, she said “Ridiculous. Go ahead.”

I left the dress rehearsal, went home, practiced like crazy and showed up for the show along with the other students – ages 3-16, one other adult and me. The audience was padded with fans – mostly parents, grands and a few friends. The show began with Julie Beistline, our teacher, wowing us with a Paganini piece and proceeded to showcase Julie’s students. My rendition of Fritz Kreisler’s Liebslied was a big improvement over the dress rehearsal version and, having no parents present (on this plane anyway) I was proud of myself for pulling it off, sounding OK and simply for having the courage to stand up and perform.

Sitting in the audience before and after playing, my focus was drawn to Julie. The pride and joy that radiated from her as she watched each and every student perform was a delight to behold. Her pure pleasure in the progress and performance of her ‘kids’ was palpable and warmed my heart. Whenever I looked her way she was nodding, listening closely and smiling – as my friend Zora said – like an angel. Her total focus on helping the tiny students position their feet and their instruments and prepare to play was the same as I’d always felt in my lessons – total focus on helping and supporting me to do my best.

The whole experience was wonderfully uplifting and got me thinking about the tremendous power of teachers in our lives and, that whatever we do professionally, we are all teachers and we are all given many opportunities everyday, not only share our expertise, but to encourage and support one another.

My daughter took piano lessons many years ago and her teacher Richard Sabonis was another version of Julie – in a much older, Santa Claus like persona. He was endlessly encouraging, endlessly positive and had her playing pieces that I would have deemed too advanced for a beginner. I would sit, cringing at her cacophonous efforts, marveling when he said, “Good try. Now lets go back to the beginning and see if we can do it like this.” When we moved away I looked for another teacher so she could continue her studies and, at a first lesson with a prospective teacher, she was asked to play something and proudly played Fur Elise.  She turned expectantly  to hear him say– “ Well, that could use some work.” Her 10-year old body deflated and on the way out she said “I don’t like him. I don’t want to go back.” I understood.

When we focus on another person fully with the intention of supporting them in any endeavor – as a teacher, coach, parent, friend, sibling, colleague or random person on line at the post office – focusing on their strengths and helping them shore up and transform their weaknesses we are using our magic wands of affirmation and encouragement.

We relegate magic wands to the world of fairy tales and forget that we all possess one. Imagine what yours looks like and what incantation you might mumble in the tradition of abracadra and the bibitty bobbity boo of the fairy godmothers in Cinderella who sang “you can do magic believe it or not and ‘just a wave of my stick and I’ll finish the trick”.

Go ahead pull it out, dust it off, try it, give it a whirl. We all have within us the words and wands that have the power to transform: help others shed rags for gowns, stand taller, do what they wouldn’t have thought possible, see their Buddha natures, divine selves and empower others to move out into the world sharing their unique gifts, being their best, most joyful selves and showing up at the recital, playing their hearts out and taking a bow to well deserved applause.

 

I was in a rush. I’d agreed to pick up my elderly friend Jim and take him to the hospital to see his best friend.  I’d said I’d pick him up at 1 and it wasn’t until I was on my way that I remembered I’d made a lunch date with some friends for 1:30. Figuring I’d be a little late, I hurried Jim along which, given his age and limitations, proved to be an oxymoron – i.e there was no hurrying Jim. I called my lunch date to say go ahead and order, I’d be late and thought ahead to pave the way – wheel chair up to 4th floor, get him settled and take off.

Pulling my jeep in front of the hospital, I went to the passenger side, opened the door and was about to help Jim to a bench while I went and got a wheel chair, when  a woman approached us and asked if we needed any help.  I looked up.  She look serious so I said, “Sure. We need a wheel chair.”  She looked puzzled until I explained that my passenger was a visitor, not a patient and was on his way to visit a friend on the 4th floor.  She said,  “I can take him for you.”  Now it was my turn to be puzzled,  “ You really mean you’ll take him all the way up to the 4th floor to see his friend? “  She said “Yes” and returned a couple of minutes later with a wheel chair and took off, Jim in tow.  

I was beaming and over the top appreciative, thank you thank you – no longer late for lunch.  I called, “I’ll be back in a couple of hours Jim.  Thank you angel lady.”

About to climb into my car I caught the eye of the driver in a car parked behind me.  I smiled and said,  “God is Good. “ She answered.  “Always.”

She didn’t say, “sometimes,” or “just for today” or “if you’re good – or lucky”.  She said ALWAYS and that ALWAYS has been echoing in the caverns of my insides ever since.

I could have said “Well what about how much it sucks that I’m even here, that Tom is deathly ill, that Jim is so old, that things fall apart” but I just nodded and let the always permeate my being and lead me deep to a very peaceful place  where the impulse to rant and rave, complain, bemoan and dive into the drama was faint hearted and short lived. 

Long ago I adopted Byron Katie’s phrases: The world is a friendly place and Everything always happens for my benefit.  Barring moments of depression, imbalance and disconnection from source, I have found that owning these affirmations makes them so – witness the angel appearing to shepherd Jim upstairs allowing me to keep my lunch date –  both friendly and beneficial you’d have to agree and only one small example from the plethora of miracles both big and small that populate my days. 

What if you saw everything that happened to you as a gift basket– custom made miracles so to speak even if initially you don’t get it, or don’t like it or wish you’d gotten another basket

What if you stopped looking a gift horse in the face and like a child, got excited and curious, started poking around and discovering no end of hidden treasures– some with your very own name on them and when you look around you see signs saying The silver lining, this magic moment and Let it Be.

I am grateful for the gift of seeing through eyes that recognize that all moments are magic and are as plentiful as stars, and, that, like the woman coming up and whisking Jim away, the universe answers our requests. I am getting better too at breathing in the always of acceptance, feeling the blessing of each opportunity and the lesson of every magic moment, even if, or especially when, the way things go down isn’t what I had in mind or pains my heart.   

My friend in the hospital passed away one week ago today – rest in peace Tom St. Vincent di Coio – and his best friend Jim has gone to live with his niece and nephew in the States – an intense transition for all leaving his friends in shock and meditating on final endings, memories and the meaning of it all and here I am still tuned into the echo of “Always.”

Recent Postcards