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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!

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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.

 
 

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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!

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 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

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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!

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As long as we are alive the only certainty we can absolutely be sure of is change. Constant change. Temporary change. Permanent change. Change that may change how we see ourselves forever. Most of the time we live our lives protected by whatever bubble circumstance or premeditation has created around us. We often lose track of the fact that we are not the bubble itself. We call ourselves salesmen, parents, artists, teachers, accountants…whatever. We identify with the label and begin to color our inner and outer world in a style we deem appropriate for the label. Years go by and we become used to living this life-style. We believe the life-style, the image, is who we are. Then things begin to change. We experience a physical injury that keeps us in bed for an extended period. We find ourselves in a situation where we are unhappy. Our company downsizes and we are let go. Our children are in trouble and we can’t help them. Our anchor is lost at sea. Our life-style, our image of ourselves, begins to unravel. Who are we now?

An identity crisis isn’t just a personal phenomenon. We can experience this confusion as a nation also. In my lifetime it has happened many times. The JFK and RFK assassinations. The Vietnam War. 9/11. The financial crisis the world is experiencing right now. So much more. But we are not these events. We as a people are not these events. These events may shake you up, or wake you up, or bring you to your knees. But we are not these events. Most of us have had a life-style change recently given the recent financial downturn. We need to stop whining about this and move on. Figure out what to do next. Remind ourselves that we were never our bank accounts and four bedroom homes in the first place. Connect back to what is really important in life. I can assure you what is truly important cannot be found at Neiman Marcus. (Although, granted it can sure be a lot of fun looking for it there.) We are still now and forever only our hearts and minds. Our thoughts are still things. Things that matter. Things that make a difference. Things that defy categories. Things that will turn any personal or national crisis around. Everything from losing a paycheck to oil spills ravaging the oceans can be remedied by our innate creativity. We are not the mess we are the solution to the mess. We need to forget about our life-styles and remember who we really are. We are miracles! And miracles “happen” every day.

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I have a new boyfriend. I fall in love with someone on a weekly basis at the very least. Can’t help myself. Most usually it is someone who is beyond excellent at what they do. Someone who knows their stuff and does it with panache. Someone I have never met. I guess we can call these little flights of admiration a crush? I guess. I have women on my crush list also. Been carrying a torch for Coco Chanel since I was 21! Why not? She was perfection and she liberated women from those godawful restraints they used to call clothes! My latest crush is on a fella I’ve been watching on HGTV. (Don’t tell Smokey Robinson or Nouriel Roubini, OK?)  Mike Holmes (Holmes on Homes) has not replaced my great love for The Smoke or Dr. Doom but he is currently a part of my personal holy trinity. Why? Because we all need a hero and Mr. Holmes is a hero if ever there was one. Mike is a Canadian building contractor. Every week on HGTV, Mike walks into some fresh hell another builder has left behind for some unwitting home owner. The home owner is usually facing the worst possible contractor rip-off story ever. Electrical fiascos, plumbing-to-nowhere, the house at risk of caving in on itself because the foundation has been compromised by a sociopath posing as a building contractor. Imagine your worst renovation nightmare and Holmes On Homes deals with it. Once Mike enters the scene it is just a matter of time before he rights the wrongs and all is well on the home front.

 Mike’s crew includes his three children. The crew works day and night until Mike is happy with the result. And Mike ain’t happy until it’s perfect. He has even been known to use his own money to finish a project properly for the people who have been taken in. We are talking hundreds of thousands of dollars here. There is just sumthin’ about Mike? A gal has no immunity from that kind of charm. He saves the day every time. He does it with grace, kindness, and human decency. Some bad guy has done something to someone so unfair and Mike, the good guy in overalls, corrects the injustice. He is an absolute inspiration. As stated before we need our heroes. It doesn’t matter if the hero is just an honest working stiff. Or a woman willing to stand up for the freedom of another woman in a country she will never set foot in. It doesn’t matter if the hero breaks the rules or follows them. Anyone doing the right thing when it is far easier, more profitable, and totally acceptable to do otherwise is a hero. At least in my eyes. Ya gotta love a person like that. I manage to find one on any given day and fall in love with them…just a little. It’s Memorial Day here in The States. A day we set aside every year to honor our fallen military heros. Bless them all. And thank heaven not all our heroes are dead heroes. Have a sweet one!

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