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What Is Jazz?

When asked by a reporter, “What is jazz?” Count Basie replied; “Four beats to a bar and no cheating.”

I should have known when a year ago I inexplicably requested a subscription to “Midwest Living” magazine that I would be moving there, huh? Like I always say you simply must respect your intuition. As I clip away at peonies and wild strawberries at the north end of the property I can faintly hear Ray Charles groovin’ sweetly. “You give your hand to me and then we say goodbye – I watch you walk away…” Sometimes, I wonder if I am sentenced to a lifetime of misunderstandings with The Divine and the not so divine. I distinctly remember asking for a three bedroom Victorian cottage in a quaint seaside village, a pink car in the driveway, and a houseboy named Rocky to help with the heavy-lifting. But here I am in the back of beyond in rural landlocked south eastern Iowa. Oh, well if it’s good enough for Maharishi Mahesh Yogi it’s gonna have to be good enough for Al.

My days  are filled with fluffing my new surroundings by day and casting aspersions upon the mothers of the sadistic freight train engineers who insist upon blowing their helacious horns twice as long and loudly at night. WTH, man?! This buttermilk painted turn of the 19th century clapboard house has the great bones of a young Katherine Hepburn. I have appointed the interior rooms thus far with the sort of romantic notions our “Kate” deserves. It’s coming along quite nicely if I do say so myself.

I’ll admit it I have always been one to enjoy a delicious pretense or two. But in the spirit of full disclosure I really do like this place. One month ago I put the pedal to the metal of a Mercury Milan rental with Marcello Mastroianni by my side and I haven’t looked back since. As Ray would say it was just time to “Hit The Road Jack.” Making a new life in a here-to-fore unknown part of the country is not recommeded work for sissies. Do I occasionaly feel like flotsom on a lonely ocean? Of course I do. It’s called life. But I intend to bloom where I am planted. Darlings, humidity and humility aside welcome to my mid-life/mid-west life. So far so sweet!

For the past ten years I have composed a weekly inspirational letter called Friday’s Child. The Friday’s Child Circle Of Prayer is attached to this letter. Sign on at my website http://www.AlexandraBrooks.com Here is a sample.

***We are the living links in a force that moves and plays through and around us. – Alan Chadwick

REALIZATION – TODAY I INTEND TO BE JOY-FULL 

We easily miss the simple joy in our daily lives. To be present and mindful, to really show up for life can be a challenge at the best of times and daunting when we are distracted by discontent. We need the re-focusing powers of joy to really en-joy our time here on earth. Once we set our intention joy is easily found. It is there as the first pink glimpse of cherry blossoms in Spring. It is there as the chocolate covered smile of child next door. It is there as the first whiff of coffee brewing in the morning. It is there as the book you fell asleep with while reading last night. Everyday happenings are colored with delight. We just need to remember to remember this. Be there. Show up. Connect to our lives life with the same willingness we connect to our favorite song thrilling the air every time we hear it. Through joy we learn to love and be loved. Through love we find our purpose in life.

The Truth Is: If we knew how to love we would find love everywhere.

Join The Circle. Wrapped in Healing White Light and the Violet Light of Wisdom, pray. Divine; Remind me to reflect Love in all that I do today. Thank You. For all those in The Friday’s Child Circle of Prayer and for all those in need of You. We send… Love, Light and Oceans of Bliss for the Highest Good of all. And so it is! Amen.

 
 

The end result of emotional extremes is extreme emotional dissatisfaction. Perfect happiness lies not at any of the extremities of outer experiences, but at a point of calmness midway between them all. – Paramhansa Yogananda (Stanza 39 of Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam explained)

It is so easy to become disgruntled and vexed by the loveless actions of others. Inattentive friends. Family members acting like strangers. Co-workers with political agendas. To quote Marvin Gaye; “We are all sensitive people with so much to give.” At times we just feel too much. Pushed to emotional extremes in reaction to perceived unfair or shoddy treatment. I love the quote here by Yogananda. Our ability to relate to life and the people in it as the unrocked boat is one of the keys to our happiness.

I am most at risk of being rocked when I am dealing with people who feel they are disadvantaged. Don’t you just love a victim? The thing is these very people tend to take advantage. As victims they don’t own their own power. So, they try to take your power and wield it over you by manipulation or (my personal favorite) playing super-victim. You know the type well I’m sure. “You did this, and you did that, and you are the cause of all the drama and unresolved grief in my pitiful life.” Yeah, one day I’m gonna write a really whiney country song inspired by this theme if Reba doesn’t beat me to it. The “disadvantaged” amongst us are always at either extreme and extremely b-o-r-i-n-g! Not to mention a-n-n-o-y-i-n-g! As for myself when blessed with the presence of this energy? The flags go up and my heart shuts down.

I know… it isn’t a befitting way for a person on the Path of Light to behave. I know. I will continue to work on this. I’m not striving for perfection, OK? I’m striving for peace. In order to live life from the point of calm response rather than extreme reaction we need to be armed for bear. Here’s what we need to pack for the hunt. Meditation, inspiration and perspiration. The afterglow effect of meditation will open the gates of our intuition. We need our intuition to navigate the deep waters. Being inspired will keep us from being tired. Perspiration? Well, I hate sweating. It’s so…sweaty. But a walk, a swim, time working in the garden, a little cha-cha-cha will engage our serotonin and endorphin levels far better than a Prozac cocktail ever could. It’s difficult to be reactive when your psychic and physical bodies are in harmony.

 I suppose it will prove helpful to accept that sometimes it is just gonna be a long rugged road from drama to daylight. In the meantime? Keep calm and carry on. Have a sweet one!

 I write about “Story Telling” quite a bit I know. The thing is, every single being has a story to tell and I find these tales to be absolutely fascinating. These days, the stories animals have to tell are most compelling to me. I volunteer at my local animal shelter here in Sonoma. When you walk through the glass doors of the entry way and look to your left there is a room full of bunnies available for adoption. The bunnies come and go but my favorite bunny story is the story of Harvey and Rose. Harvey Rabbit came into the shelter and soon became the George Clooney of the bunny habitat. All of the girl bunnies were in love with him and Harvey enjoyed the adulation. He wriggled his adorable little nose at all the single ladies! Until one day when the lovely Rose Rabbit hopped on by. It was love at first sight. Harvey and Rose have been an item ever since. Soulmates, right?

 Then there is Phoenix the Cat. Poor little thing was hit by a car. She was a mess. Internal bleeding, broken pelvis, heart murmur, she could not move at all. The Vet’s at the clinic treated her of course but with little hope of their efforts producing a positive outcome. Phoenix had something else in mind. One fine day Miss Kitty just stood up and started walking. Phoenix, ashes, rising up from, get it?  Every single animal at the shelter has an interesting story to tell. Some of the stories we have heard before and some of them are entirely new. Love stories. Survival stories. Fallen hero stories. D-I-V-O-R-C-E stories. The only difference between human stories and animal stories is that an animal needs a human to change the outcome for them. Animals bear their troubled stories with endless grace. Even the most abused animal will still find it in their heart to be gentle and loving.

We can learn so much from them about forgiveness and humility. A little love, care, food, water, and almost any animal can be rehabilitated. What’s up with we us? Why do we humans insist upon making such a big deal out of our silly, sad stories? And guilt? That false emotion can rank a free lunch. We really believe we are making moral progress when we feel pangs of guilt. (I did that “bad thing” but I feel awful about it so I must not be a “bad person” after all.) Forget guilt! No self-respecting Pit Bull has ever felt a moment of guilt in its life. An animals ability to stay in the now, accept a healing, embrace the moment, move-on is remarkable. Inspiring beyond inspiration.

Yes, every being has a story to tell. But the lack of angst and drama in an Animal Tale is something I myself aspire to. On any given day of our lives we may find ourselves lost, broken, alone. Next day? We can find redemption. We only need to let go of the tired tale we are telling ourselves (and anyone who will listen) to begin living the happy ending.

 Adopt a spayed/neutered pet from a reputable animal rescue group if you are able. Then live to tell the tale of the greatest love of your life. Have a sweet one!

http://www.facebook.com/DrAlexandraBrooks

http://www.AlexandraBrooks.com

 It is the middle of July and on this balmy hotter than July day I find it is “sweet to do nothing.” I wasn’t always able to own doing nothing. For the better part of my life I had to be busy-busy-busy or I felt as though I was a lazy loafer just wasting my time. These days a few hours (or an entire day) of  listening to music, reading a novel, watching reality tv, having a long conversation with good friend on the phone and playing “catch” with my kitty Marcello Mastroianni is the heaven I know. I find now that I actually know how to  relax I am  able to magnetize more interesting people into my life. People who actually love life! I have moved away from the dawn of the desperate and into the salon of the pretty darn clever.

 I have a seminar series I offer on the phone called Life In The Mirror. The seminar is based on the theory that life as you know it is a reflection of your soul-life. Who you are, what you are, and who you may want to consider being. The people we attract into our lives mirror what we love and what we fear. The toughest trials and relationships reflect bits and pieces of our disowned selves. These particular relationships have the emotional charge of a live cable wire. We are fiercely attracted but uncomfortable (to say the least) in them. Shamed and disconcerted by them. The stronger the denial the closer we move into the mirror. At some point we realize it is time to accept, surrender, and integrate the disowned self. Our lives are at sixes and sevens until we do. Oh, let me count the ways! In my life I over-identified with being “on purpose” i.e. useful. So, of course I attracted in people who wouldn’t know their purpose if they tripped over it in broad daylight. Send in the clowns. Depressed, world-weary, clueless, whiney, useless, b-o-r-i-n-g boring!

 If you disown your power you will attract in people in who use power. My judgmental attitude and fear of being a professional lay-a-bout kept me in a spin. When you are spinning you don’t see life very clearly. These days I get “my stuff” done but I take my loafing seriously. As a reward for my awakening I find myself swimming in waters with an exotic class of fish…I mean people. People who know their porpoise, I mean their purpose, and know how to be joyful and grateful at the same time. I’m so NOT bored. Have a sweet one!

Lavender-Blue

June has been bustin’ out all over and as the clock strikes midnight it will finally be over. I’m not complaining mind you I’m just sayin’. Many of the clients I Read for have been going through it big-time. I answer the phone and they are already in tears. (Usually the tears don’t come ’til after I tell ’em all the things they don’t want to hear.) There are months when we seem to glide through life and months where we  pray we can keep up with it all. It has been one of those months. The praying kind…not the gliding kind. Decision after decision has been made and now we pray for the best outcome. Nothing really dramatic – just change. Just life. Just it’s-about-frickin’-time you looked at this whatever, gave it a name, and stopped dancing around the issue. Big girl panties on and handle it! So, we handle it. A few days or a few weeks will go by and the seeds of our decision will bear fruit. You have to trust what you did was the right thing to do. This will happen over and over again throughout our lives. It’s a process of pain, relief from pain, then fresh new energy. The process will have us feeling better than we had been in a good while. Why were we acting as if we were having a root canal without anesthesia? Perspective is everything. Change is not easy when you aren’t certain if the exchange will be fair. Something will replace the something we know? Will it be enough? Will there be a period of emptiness? Unbearable emptiness. Oh, no! Not emptiness.

We need to learn to experience emptiness and enjoy the lightness of being it has to offer. Remain faithful knowing full well emptiness never lasts for long. I mean look at that hall closet you just cleared out in December, right? How about the trunk of your car? Empty just isn’t a forever kind of thing. We humans need to fill up the spaces and we do. It would behoove us to become less accepting of filling them up with junk in the first place. It doesn’t matter if it is our closets, or our stomachs, or our hearts. Our high-tolerance for riff-raff will get into trouble every time. How do you know you are making the correct decisions for your life? You don’t know! But here is how we may know a little better. Pay attention to how you feel after you make a decision. Do you feel relieved? Honor the outcome of the decision. Get in the habit of putting your feelings of relief and a positive outcome together. Ask for signs along the way.

Yesterday, I was at the beach. Children were everywhere, laughing, and flying salt-water taffy colored kites. The restless ocean was a deep lavender-blue. I had never seen the ocean this color before. It was remarkable. I closed my eyes and said the prayer I had come to the ocean to pray. When I finished my prayer I opened my eyes only to notice a tiny butterfly the same color of the ocean lighting on a flower. The flower was the exact same color as butterfly… lavender-blue. It may not seem like much but I took it as a sign. A sign I had come to a correct decision and my prayer would be answered. I left the seaside feeling satisfied. Today, I went to the paint store to pick up color chips. I’m leaning towards the blues and feeling sunny yellow. Have a sweet one!

Daddy’s Home

Today was Father’s Day. The day we put aside every June in celebration of the most important man in our lives. (For better or worse.) I grew up with two fathers. My biological father was almost 60 when I was born. Back in the 1950’s if you were a 60-year-old man you were an old duffer. None of this 60 is the new 40 stuff we Boomers wax-ridic about now. I was just two weeks shy of my second birthday when my mother Betty-Jane passed away from cancer. My old Dad could not take care of my two brothers and me. The three of us took on a very diverse karmic destiny at an early age. I wasn’t unhappy with my lot! I got to stay with my Aunt and Uncle in a little apartment in Dormont, PA. I loved my Aunt Christina whom I had always known as Mommy. I was in her tender care almost from birth. I was crazy-nutsy-mad for my Uncle Danny whom I had given the nickname “Hon.” We aren’t quite sure how it came about but the name stuck. My Aunt and Uncle were just out of their teens when they took me in. Years later when they had kids of their own all three children called their father Hon. As did all of Hon’s friends and relations. My father was known as Daddy to everyone. It sounds confusing but it wasn’t at all. The two men were as different as a Cadillac DeVille and a green De Soto. But given the great differences – I learned everything I would ever need to know about men. From the sublime to the ridiculous and everything in between. They both gave me time and attention. They both laughed at my silly jokes. They both liked me to sing for them and encouraged me to dance. Neither one of them ever unleashed their epic tempers on me. (That alone made me feel special.) I couldn’t wait for Hon to come home from work every day. I lived the first four years of my life sitting on his lap laughing and singing. I saw Daddy on the weekends. He wasn’t as much fun as young, movie-star-handsome Hon was but he was a great cook. He baked the best Syrian bread and homemade yogurt ever. Plus, all of the other Middle Eastern goodies he made for me were always beyond delicious. Gotta love a man who cooks for ya! Don’t get me wrong my childhood was not perfect by any retro-stretch of the imagination. Both of these men were terribly flawed. But I loved them both even though Hon was my favorite. I didn’t always understand why they did the things they did or said the things they said. I haven’t wasted much time trying to figure all that out either. What would be the point of that archeological dig? I just thought it was cool to have two Daddy’s. Happy Dad’s Day fellas!