Archive for September, 2009

Pico Iyer on The Dalai Lama

Last week I had the distinct pleasure of hearing Pico Iyer interviewed by journalist Scott London about his recent book, On The Open Road: The Global Journey of the Fourteenth Dalai Lama. Pico Iyer is not only an eloquent writer, but also an eloquent interviewee. Since 1974, when Pico was seventeen years old, he was lucky to be in close communication with The Dalai Lama who was a personal friend of Pico’s father. Pico deftly called the Dalai Lama, “A global village on two legs.”  He said that no matter what The Dalai Lama was wearing and no matter where he was, the best way to describe him was as an individual with a huge amount of integrity. He stressed that being in close proximity with him was stimulating and the mental equivalent of being in the gym. “He is a doctor of the mind,” says Pico.
Pico discussed The Dalai Lama’s exile from his home, Tibet, and his life-long struggles with the situation. He briefly discussed the basic tenets of Buddhism and how all blessings come from doing good onto others. Although I am an amateur student of  Buddhism, I am fascinated by the power of this tenet. No  matter what religion you practice, this is true, in that all that you do for others comes back to you at least two-fold. This goes hand in hand with another Buddhist belief is how you die is a reflection on how you have lived your life. It has also been said that people age like they live. Look around you at any older person and you will notice that they have not changed since their younger years. If they were industrious and busy, they will continue to be so. If they sat around watching television, chances are they will continue to do that in their golden years.

Pico spoke about the Dalai Lama’s energy and how everyone wants to “bathe in his charisma,” and I noticed this during his visit to UCSB earlier this year (see blog below). Certainly his energy spreads wide. In summary, Scott London did a terrific job, allowing Pico to hold his own, but asking very salient questions…doing everything a journalist should do.

A good journaling prompt is to write about what good things you have done for others this past week.

Happy First Day of Fall — Fall Into Your Passion

There’s no time like the start of a new season to try something new—either for yourself or for your community. If you are a writer like me, you are probably compulsive about your craft. It takes a sort of obsession to be a writer—an obsession to start and finish an article, story or book. Perhaps, it takes this type of personality to bring any type of project to fruition.

After many years of being a writer, I also understand the importance of making the leap out of the office and away from the computer, journal or legal pad to wander into the real world in order to bring some awareness to an issue in the community or do something which unites your spirit with the community and/or the world.

For me personally, I have the need to inspire and teach others the power of writing, whether it’s for publication or to heal personal wounds. This has been an ongoing mission and passion of mine. Not all authors have the need to bring awareness to a particular subject. For example, in a recent Time Magazine interview with author Janet Evanovich (June 22, 2009), she was asked if she felt inclined to use her success to bring awareness to a certain issue. She said that she thought it was appropriate for some authors, but it didn’t seem appropriate for her. She explained by saying that she saw herself as an entertainer and that’s what she liked to do. I admire Janet’s honesty in knowing what is right for her. I also know that perhaps because of my past profession as a nurse, that I have an instinct to help and teach others. Today, I have decided to teach journaling to teenage girls at Girls Inc. in Carpinteria. They are excited about my visit and I’m excited about sharing my passion. It’s a win-win situation for us all and I hope the beginning of a series of similar events.

Think of what you might do that is different this Fall. Do you have a passion you would like to share with others? Is there a new hobby you want to bring into your life? Today is a good day to pull out your journal and jot down any ideas you may have and turn over a leaf of paper as the first colorful one change colors on your backyard tree.

Teenage Memories

This summer marked the 40th anniversary of Woodstock. It also marked the summer my sweet niece Laura turned sixteen. The summer I turned fifteen, my parents sent me to an International Teen Camp in Switzerland to learn French and it was one i will never forget.

This would be my first trip overseas without my parents. About one month before my departure date, I started taking the trip seriously and I began the arduous task of packing. I wondered how I’d fit my entire bedroom into one suitcase, or more realistically, how I’d go without all of my stuff for eight weeks. It’s not that I used everything everyday, but the security of all those things provided endless comfort and support in my early adolescent years.

From the attic I pulled down the largest suitcase I could find. Years later, my father reminded me that I had jammed everything into that suitcase, “except,” he added, “our kitchen sink!”

Like nearly every teen, music was an essential ingredient of my everyday happiness, but those were the days before iPods and CDs. To listen to music we had to use record players or use tape cassettes. I wouldn’t dream of venturing overseas for an entire summer without my record player. So a few days before leaving, I packed the rather large device in the middle of my suitcase, saddled between stacks of clothes. On the other side of the suitcase I tucked in my favorite forty-five records.

The Beatles song, Let it Be, had just been released and it was already my favorite. I stored that record separately in my backpack. Only four years before, the Beatles first appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show. I vividly remember my parents and I watching the extravaganza of those four cool British guys chatting with the talk show host and providing a sampling of their mesmerizing music.

By the time my trip to Switzerland came along, I had already blasted the song over and over stereo in my bedroom, decorated with neon posters and accentuated by strobe light hanging from the ceiling. One day, my music was so loud that my parents decided to install a wall-to-wall brown cork bulletin board to insulate them from the vibrations. It also gave me a chance to hang some favorite memorabilia and posters, but I think what they were really trying to do was create a sound barrier between our rooms!

The wise lyrics and pleasant melody of the Beatles song had a very calming effect on me, particularly during my homesick moments in Switzerland. Before long, I learned that it was also a favorite song amongst teens from all around the world. The song became our common denominator, as we struggled to communicate. What amazed me was how perfectly the foreigners sang the song, even though they had no idea what the words meant! I am not so sure things have changed today as people around the world still sing Beatles’ tunes.

I’m amazed about the timelessness of that song and how it still brings tears to my eyes. I am also in awe about the power of music and how it often does this so easily and with so much magic.

Now, nearly forty years later, Let it Be still conjures up images of those wonderful camp days, and the dances with boys from countries around the world, such as, France, Kuwait, Italy and the United States. I wonder what song and memories my niece Laura will have of her sixteenth year. Will her memories be as vivid and fun as mine? I surely hope so.

Memory in Retrograde

There has been some negative energy in the air this past week and I recently learned that it might be because mercury is in retrograde. Some believe that this phenomenon can make people act differently. Supposedly, when a planet is in retrograde it moves back through the zodiac. Scientists don’t necessarily believe that planets can do this, nor do they believe that planets are stationery, however, those with more spiritual slants are more inclined to be believers

Mercury rules thinking, perception, processing and means of communication. As a result, mercury in retrograde can give rise to misunderstandings, various types of glitches involving computers, phones and transportation. Believers don’t suggest making any important decisions during these times because some people may have difficulty thinking clearly.

It has been said that retrograde planets mark a period of inevitability fated events. In fact, some unresolved issues from the past might surface. Whether I believe this is another matter, but I do know that I have been thinking about a particular event from my past:the death of my dear friend Lynda Percival Glickman in 1992. She was a brilliant woman and nursing practitioner whose passion was traveling. Each year she traveled to Africa to teach African women about birth control. She loved the culture. Because of a combination of emotional and physical factors, she shockingly ended her life by jumping off a 21-story building. She knew that there was finality in this type of suicide. Yesterday would have been Lynda’s 63rd birthday.

For years, Lynda had been my inspiration. In nursing school she was my mentor and over the years became a dear friend. I met Lynda days before my plan to drop out of nursing school because of a bad experience. I enrolled in Lynda’s pediatric nursing course and she immediately inspired me to stay in the program. The following year I graduated. That same year was the first time I came face to face with a child who lost his hair due to chemotherapy. It really snapped my life into perspective.

So today, when mercury is supposedly in retrograde and the effects of the full-moon of last Thursday still linger, I stop to think about the importance of keeping one’s perspective and to look at the glass half full, rather than half empty.

What do you have to be thankful for this week?

Quote of the Week

"A writer uses a journal to try out the new step in front of the mirror."

~Mary Gordon

About Me

I am a memoirist, essayist, poet and teacher whose passion is keeping a notebook. My notebook is my muse and my alter ego. It contains personal snippets of my life and observations from the world around me. Diarist Anaïs Nin has been a great source of inspiration for me. My hobbies include writing, writing and more writing, but when I have extra time, I enjoy reading, walking, hiking, yoga, working out, cooking and hanging out with my family and Maltese Poodle, Spunky. In order not to become ensconced by the glare of my computer screen, I also teach in the UCLA Extension Writers' Program and in various conferences and festivals around the country. My pleasure comes from sharing my joy of journaling with professional writers and anyone interested in writing.

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