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VALERIEMAHA's Recent Blog Entries

Change from Within: New Orleans 5 Years Later

Friday, September 03, 2010

Karma Tube, a beacon of light in the media world, continues offering us gifts:

Hurricane Katrina changed New Orleans forever. For the past five years since, hurricane-force passion has been working to keep that change positive. "Change from Within" features the stories of three different people using three completely different paths to rebuild the city for the better...and keep it that way.
A community organizer who inspires people to "Talk LOVE in the community" through creative art and expression.
A public defender who wants to help the innocent by "shepherding them through their darkest moments".
A journalist in search of the voices of the "invisible men of the community".

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

BRIGHTSPARK7 9/3/2010 9:07PM

    Thank you for sharing this, Mahalakshmi! Inspiring and empowering!

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SLASALLE 9/3/2010 5:17PM

    As always, deep and thoughtful ... with awareness!!

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THE_SILVER_OWL 9/3/2010 12:18PM

    I was most touched by the "Invisible Men" storyline. That has got this brain of mine thinking...

There are invisible people (male and female) all over the planet, in all neighborhoods. Some remain invisible by choice, others by habit, and some because they believe they have no other option.

Awareness brings light upon the situation. Thank you for sharing this piece with us.


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EARTHSEAME 9/3/2010 11:42AM

    emoticon I loved this! It was moving and so beautifully filmed.

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KMIRANDA2000 9/3/2010 10:39AM


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SparkFriends! The Gift of True Longing....

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

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Of course my SparkFriend Sheryl is right about the many in the world "fighting just to survive." I have profound and continuing awareness of the horrific suffering in the world and the stark contrast of our tiny little corner, where we too often lounge in complacent comfort.

AND I'm also deeply aware of all of the abundance in my own life with YOU, my dear SparkFriends, who offer love and compassion, ideas and hope, support and feedback to me in my "unknowing," being WAY UP THERE on that list!
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May this piece of master poet David Whyte, one of my heroes, shine beauty upon this day for all who partake in its message, and help this present longing find its place in my heart on the journey toward the "healing I took birth for" (Stephen Levine).
"...the movement of a moment
left completely to itself, to find ourselves adrift,
safe in our unknowing, our very own,
our great tide, our great receiving, our

wordless, fiery, unspoken,
hardly remembered, gift of true longing."


The pull is so strong we will not believe
the drawing tide is meant for us,
I mean the gift, the sea,
the place where all the rivers meet.

Easy to forget,
how the great receiving depth
untamed by what we need
needs only what will flow its way.

Easy to feel so far away
and the body so old
it might not even stand the touch.

But what would that be like
feeling the tide rise
out of the numbness inside
toward the place to which we go
washing over our worries of money,
the illusion of being ahead,
the grief of being behind,
our limbs young
rising from such a depth?

What would that be like
even in this century
driving toward work with the others,
moving down the roads
among the thousands swimming upstream,
as if growing toward arrival,
feeling the currents of the great desire,
carrying time toward tomorrow?

Tomorrow seen today, for itself,
the sea where all the rivers meet, unbound,
unbroken for a thousand miles, the surface
of a great silence, the movement of a moment
left completely to itself, to find ourselves adrift,
safe in our unknowing, our very own,
our great tide, our great receiving, our

wordless, fiery, unspoken,
hardly remembered, gift of true longing.

~ David Whyte ~
(Where Many Rivers Meet)

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

FRANCESCANAZ 9/6/2010 12:06PM

    You are such a thoughtful & loving friend. Thanks for sharing amiga.
Paz, Francesca

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DOKEYOKEY 9/5/2010 11:08AM

    " find ourselves adrift, safe in our unknowing..." -- those are words that speak to me!

Thank you for posting this.
It reminds me that I have a David Whyte book -- The Three Marriages -- that I have not yet read...


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SHANTISHANTI 9/3/2010 10:58AM


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DDOORN 9/1/2010 11:03PM

    Our SparkFamily is the BEST!

Thank you for finding such special words to celebrate US! :-)


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TKADEEPBREATH 9/1/2010 10:37PM

    You're a "shiny thing" you know that? I'm always looking for stuff like that . . . glad I found you!!

Night, Jan emoticon

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DENI_ZEN 9/1/2010 10:09PM

    Mmmm! Thank you for this beautiful poem, Maha :) And I agree, Spark and our SparkFriends are that vast, buoyant ocean... Lovely, comforting thought for this Wednesday evening! Have a Sparkling day tomorrow - Sandi emoticon

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CARRAND 9/1/2010 9:39PM

    Wonderful poem. Thank you for sharing.

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WATERMELLEN 9/1/2010 8:59PM

    Did not know this poet -- thanks!
And: so glad that today is a better day . . .

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KALIGIRL 9/1/2010 3:17PM

    emoticon for the images of the Sea, "the surface of great silence"
Namaste my friend

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JERSEYGIRL1950 9/1/2010 12:42PM

    it's nice to have a lifeboat of sparkfriends who help you ride the waves..especially through the storms....hugs my friend

Comment edited on: 9/1/2010 12:48:27 PM

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SHERYLDS 9/1/2010 12:18PM

    beautiful ... thanks for sharing

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LYNNANN43 9/1/2010 11:38AM

    Thank you, dear Maha, for sharing another beautiful poem with us:)


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JEANNETTE59 9/1/2010 11:33AM

  May all the love you give come back to you as boundless energy, bouying you through the tides of life emoticon

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SLASALLE 9/1/2010 10:42AM

    As always, thank you for sharing with such depth. Your depth (and yes, it includes the sadness AND the joy) are one of the many things I love about you, my dear.


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Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Sad panda

There you go...let it all slide out. Unhappiness can't stick in a person's soul when it's slick with tears.
-- Shannon Hale (Princess Academy)

I've been very melancholy today (perhaps the melancholy attending an older female without a story). I've done my best to plot a good day, but it just didn't *take*~~

~I did 20-minutes of strength training this morning.

~I posted gratitudes.

~I wrote letters to an inmate friend and to a friend who had a stroke, offering encouragement.

~I've eaten reasonably and well.

~On campus, I had a voice lesson and the first university chorus class, both with gifted and caring faculty, and both ostensible "uppers."

~I attended my two Spanish classes, though the last one really threw me into a tail spin from my already precarious perch:

I feel unprepared, inadquate to the task, "less" than the other students (not only is the class filled with primarily grad students, but also native Spanish speakers). Besides that, I don't have a good connection with the prof. I had her once before and finished the class with reservations about her. I decided to try her again because the course content intrigued me. Big mistake.

I was going to stop by the fitness center on the way home and do some cardio on the ARC, then I realized I was in a dress with sandals (open-toed shoes not allowed on machines). By the time I got home I was really feeling despairing, so I didn't have the rallying power to change clothes and go jump on the Trek to go for a ride with my sadness.

I thought of calling someone to have some dialogue, but then I decided I just need to *be with* the feelings, move through them, and see if I can find some resolution to this feeling of *unconnectedness,* of not having a story...a canvas...a score.

I'm trying to find the story for this season of my life. And I don't feel like I have...and I'm not even sure there is one. The Spanish focus felt great last year...and I have NOT been looking forward to this semester, why I'm not sure. The music minor idea came to me last week and I went for it enthusiastically. But it feels more like a band-aid at the moment. I feel a bit like a ship without an anchor, adrift.

The joy that results from doing something that you love.

Just a minute ago a Zen Habits e-article arrived entitled, "The Minimalist's Guide to Cultivating Passion." Hmmmmm...interesting, since I seemingly have *lost* mine. Here's the gist of the article:

"Discovering passion requires a dedication to unstructured exploration. You have to leave large swathes of free time in your schedule (a technique I call *underscheduling*), and fill this time with the exploration of things that might be interesting. Of equal importance, when something catches your attention you must leverage your free time to aggressively follow up.

"When we think about passion we think about action: we want to start doing big things right now! But the reality of passion is more subtle. You have to do less to get more in your life. It's a virtuous catch-22: by embracing a minimalist lifestyle now, you are more likely to develop the passionate interest that will support the lifestyle in the long run.

"Put another way: take a step back; relax; then open your eyes to patiently take in all that's out there. "


Blessed be,

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

BABYFACE26 9/6/2010 2:05PM

    What Kathleen said. Also, I can relate. I feel like that often, and I feel like that Today. I am trying to tell myself, that it's OK to feel sad, to feel empty, to feel lost sometimes. The trick is to not judge yourself for it.
Speaking to myself. I will remind you that, moods tinged with confusion are par for the course when Mercury is retrograde. Certainly, you must give yourself credit for all the other times, you take in the grief and sadness and cruelty of the world, and you rally anyway. You stay positive, or try to - in spite of it all. We sensitive souls would do well to give ourselves credit for that. You are a GREAT contribution to this world.
Big hug,
Ellen emoticon

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FRANCESCANAZ 9/6/2010 12:16PM

    Querida Maha,
Lo siento mucho sobre la clase y la profesora, tambien de tu tristeza. Not too much that is more humbling than being in a Spanish class full of native speakers! Been there...But if anyone can survive it & finish smiling, it's YOU! I am certain that you have PLENTY you could teach anyone of them. Thanks for all you taught me on your short visit here last month. I think of you more often than you may think...especially when I am rinsing the rice. emoticon

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DOKEYOKEY 9/5/2010 11:24AM

    Dear Maha -- I wish I had words of comfort for you. But perhaps all I can offer are questions: Do you need a story? Is being gift enough in itself? If you long for a story, I can tell you that one part of the story you have created in the world has been to help ME (and, I am guessing, many, many others) by pointing to the beautiful, by pointing to the wise, by showing the way -- and by embodying the way. Kathleen emoticon

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BRIGHTSPARK7 9/2/2010 2:27PM

    emoticon emoticon emoticon

Wishing you well and happy, dear Mahalakshmi. May the breezes of peace and wisdom blow away these clouds, leaving you restored and refreshed.

May you hear the message these blues have brought you, and come out stronger and more whole.

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PENNYAN45 9/2/2010 1:05PM

    How about a bicycle ride? Can you squeeze one in? I know you love doing it - and you can ride along on the breeze.

Leaving behind those adventurous summer travels with beautiful landscapes and fun with SP friends to sit in the classroom with Prof. Mistake can be a real comedown. (Can you switch or drop the course?)

I'm sending you hugs and wishes for renewed inspiration.


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ROBINSNEWNEST 9/1/2010 10:26PM

    Oh, Maha... I thought the Isrealites had trouble wandering the proverbial wilderness for 40 years, and here I am, as well. Sending you big love...


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CARRAND 9/1/2010 9:56PM

    I like the idea of living a simple lifestyle, but I have trouble letting go of my possessions. Sometimes I think I don't so much own things as things own me. I'm working on it.

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SLASALLE 9/1/2010 10:41AM

    Maha, my dear friend. I was going to say EXACTLY what Watermellen said, so all I can do is tell you to reread that and DITTO from me.

Know that feelings are often just feelings, from our soul to let us know that we are alive. And I believe it was Gibran that said something about if we can't don't have enough capacity in us to feel great sadness, then we have no capacity for the great joys at the other ends of it ... it's all part of it, my friend.

Hang in there!

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THE_SILVER_OWL 9/1/2010 9:34AM

    No profound words of wisdom appear on my keyboard this morning, so I can only offer you my love, support and wishes that your answers appear in their own due time.

"In time, on time, every time"


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    Dear new friend, I'm sorry you are going through such a time. I can relate only too well.

I hope you will take comfort in knowing there are people that care a lot about you. You have given so much of your heart to others and you will certainly reap all you have sown. A bountiful harvest is yours my friend . . . it's a fact. Hope your barn is big enough . . . emoticon

emoticon thinking of you emoticon may the music of your life be "grand" emoticon love, Jan

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LYNNANN43 9/1/2010 8:08AM

    emoticon you're feeling blue, MAHA:(

Perhaps a drop/add might benefit you this semester.

And about passion... my daughter & I had just been discussing the subject... absolutely no life should be lived without it!


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WATERMELLEN 9/1/2010 7:25AM

    You are doing all the right things: be still and know that this too shall pass.

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BECOMINGONE 9/1/2010 7:03AM

    Dear one, how hard it is to feel as if you have lost the threads of your story. I don't have any answers but know the feeling well. Sometimes we just have to be with our lost selves in order to pick up the threads again. It is not an easy process. I've been in therapy for five years seeking my lost threads (and had a little help from medications). The key is asking the questions and having the patience to discover answers that are satisfying to you.


PS See you this afternoon!

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WILDHONEYPIE1 9/1/2010 7:01AM

    emoticon emoticon emoticon

Whatever your story, whatever the chapter, it is amazing Maha. I hope your blues pass soon, and leave you with the message for which you are listening.

A very wise woman one told me, "don't worry, be happy".

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PUDLECRAZY 9/1/2010 6:04AM

    Sorry you are feeling blue. It can happen around transitions as simple as coming home from your travels and settling into the routine of academics. Call me any time you want to talk.

I hope you comfortably settle in to your classes and can feel free in your mind and spirit.


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SHERYLDS 9/1/2010 5:45AM

    I think we all get hit with the blues. But when you see the big picture and realize how much is right with your life, you appreciate how much you have to be content with. I keep telling myself...people with real issues are FIGHTING just to survive. In comparison, my pity party is like a kid complaining about not getting the cherry flavored lollipop.

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_VALEO_ 8/31/2010 11:22PM

    Sorry that you felt melancholic. Yet I would say, we might need those moments to fully realize the great moments of happiness we can have in our lives.

Could you drop the Spanish courses, and take another one? I guess it is still time. Follow your instinct.

Really like the zen-habit article.


Comment edited on: 8/31/2010 11:24:06 PM

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COSMIC_ENERGY 8/31/2010 11:20PM Who would you be without your story?

A little Byron Katie for you:

Step 1 Is it true?

Step 2 Can you absolutely know that it's true?

Step 3 How do you react, what happens, when you believe that thought?

Who would you be without the thought?

Then turn around the concept you are questioning, and don't forget to find at least three genuine, specific examples of each turnaround.

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A State of Permanent Joy

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Eknath Easwaran's Thought for the Day for today touched me deeply. It is definitely soul food for the mystics among us:
And what rule do you think I walked by? Truly a strange one, but the best in the whole world. I was guided by an implicit faith in God's goodness; and therefore led to the study of the most obvious and common things. For thus I thought within myself: God being, as generally believed, infinite in goodness, it is most consonant and agreeable with His nature that the best things should be most common.
-- Thomas Traherne

A state of permanent joy, hidden at the very center of consciousness, is the Eden to which the long journey of spiritual seeking leads. There, the mystics of all religions agree, we uncover our original goodness. We don't have to buy it; we don't have to create it; we don't have to pour it in; we don't even have to be worthy of it. This native goodness is the essential core of human nature.

We are made, the scriptures of all religions assure us, in the image of God. Nothing can change our original goodness. Whatever mistakes we have made in the past, whatever problems we may have in the present, in every one of us the uncreated spark in the soul remains untouched, ever pure, ever perfect. Even if we try with all our might to douse or hide it, it is always ready to set our personality ablaze with light.
-- Eknath Easwaran

Easwaran's commentaries tend to make use of texts of mystics from the world's great religions, today's being that of a Christian mystic:

Thomas Traherne, priest and poet

Thomas Traherne, 1636 - 1674, was an English priest, poet and prose writer, educated at the University of Oxford. His great theme is the visionary innocence of childhood, and in this respect he has been compared with William Blake and Walt Whitman. His style, too, bears resemblance to these authors in its incantatory rush, repetitions, and disregard for the rules of standard English. His poems, such as the often-anthologized "Shadows in the Water," suggest that adults have lost the joy of childhood, and with it an understanding of the divine nature of creation. In his writing, Traherne sought to reclaim this joy in the world.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

DOKEYOKEY 8/31/2010 9:05AM

    Hello, Maha -- Thank you so much for posting this inspirational material. I am learning so much from you and your guides!


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KALIGIRL 8/31/2010 8:45AM

    Here's to uncovering our original goodness.

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DENI_ZEN 8/30/2010 10:09PM

    Ahhh...these thoughts of Easwaran's (and Traherne's!) bring back some very warm, soothing memories, Maha - thank you! I'm reminded of a gray, early winter afternoon after a frustrating doctor's appointment about 20 years ago. I'd gone to our used book store, which sits at one end of a lakeside plaza, and gulls were crying out, circling overhead. When I emerged with a book, it was Easwaran's "Words to Live By," which I read and reread many times before giving it away. Then, as now, there was bottomless comfort in his words :) Thank you! - Sandi emoticon

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SHERYLDS 8/30/2010 7:32PM

    Great blog. Thank you. Food for the soul

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JERSEYGIRL1950 8/30/2010 6:24PM

    I have learned this lesson in many ways over the last 6 months..and i feel i'm a better person because of it..always an ispiration my friend emoticon

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THE_SILVER_OWL 8/30/2010 12:17PM

    How blessed I am to have you in my life. You ALWAYS manage to make me think, find inspiration, joy in the smallest of things, and a true appreciation for life.

Thank you from my deepest self...

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ROBINSNEWNEST 8/29/2010 2:54PM

    Love, Love this "thought for the day." Thank you for sharing! I'm going to re-read it to take it in again. My world is better knowing you're in it, Maha. Goodness..


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JEANNETTE59 8/29/2010 2:43PM

  Blessed be!

It is for us to fan that spark, to use our gifts not to prosper ourselves, but to heal a wounded world emoticon

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TIPPINGPOINT 8/29/2010 2:12PM

    Good Words to Live By
and Easwaren makes them up to date and clear, it did me good to read this today

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COSMIC_ENERGY 8/29/2010 2:11PM

    I love remembering we never lose our perfection as we were created--we sometimes forget, disbelieve, or push it away--but it is always there waiting for us to 'see' purely.

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WHATAGRL42 8/29/2010 1:03PM

    Needed this: Thanks Maha. Now I just need the roadmap and compass....

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CARRAND 8/29/2010 12:28PM

    Lovely thoughts.

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DDOORN 8/29/2010 8:44AM

    Thank you for sharing...I've always had an intuition that spiritual belief systems, at their best, share a common ground which is all too often unrecognized by many!


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MEDDYPEDDY 8/29/2010 1:34AM

    "visionary innocence of childhood" - hmmm...interesting! Thanks.

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Mother Teresa:A smile, the beginning of love....

Friday, August 27, 2010

I have found the paradox that if I love until it hurts, then there is no hurt, but only more love.
-- Mother Teresa

This is Mother Teresa's 100th birthday year (August 26, 1910 - September 5, 1997). KarmaTube has done it again... how can I NOT share this in celebration of this unique and wondrous saint who walked among us, totally giving her life in loving service???

I will offer at least one small act of kindness for someone today in the name of unconditional love, to honor her work and life.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

ROBINSNEWNEST 8/27/2010 10:37PM

    Thank you so much for sharing this...

"I will offer at least one small act of kindness for someone today in the name of unconditional love, to honor her work and life." I'm in.


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CARRAND 8/27/2010 6:49PM

    Wonderful post. I will try to do at least one small act of kindness every day.

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JEANNETTE59 8/27/2010 3:48PM

  Proof that gentleness and strength can truely go hand-and-hand emoticon

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KALIGIRL 8/27/2010 1:05PM

    "I will offer at least one small act of kindness for someone today in the name of unconditional love, to honor her work and life."

I will join you sister!

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SLASALLE 8/27/2010 12:29PM

    You know full well my thoughts on this one, my friend. While I cannot offer my life, I CAN do as much as is possible!

Hope school is going well and that you're not already enmeshed in tons of homework!


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MISS_VIV 8/27/2010 10:19AM

    Thank you for posting. One act of kindness and unconditional love will light the way to peace.


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ONEDROP09 8/27/2010 10:10AM

    Thanks for posting. We all need a reminder.

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KRISKECK 8/27/2010 10:06AM

    Thank you, Maha, that was so so lifted my spirits!

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STILLPOINT 8/27/2010 9:37AM

    Wow Maha. Thank you so much for posting this.

In this life, we cannot do great things, we can only do small things with GREAT LOVE.

Mer emoticon

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