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Birthday Month

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

"Hello Mahalakshmi! Your birthday month is here and so am I. Let the celebrations begin. Been away from Spark for many months. Hope all is well with you. Happy to see the photo of Swamiji on your page again. A blessing on my day.
Love, Usha xx"
This lovely note arrived on my SPage this morning from a special California SFriend, BRIGHTSPARK7, and caused this wimpy Pisces to ruminate (again/more) about the advent of my 70th birthday (Feb 23).
I may gift myself with a road trip to the ashram for the Memorial Day weekend Krishna Das kirtan (devotional song) retreat. And I hope to find a way to get over to Maui to visit my dear friend Diana!
And on a more practical level I can think of no better way to welcome The BIG SEVEN OH(!) than with mindful eating and consistent movement. I started tracking (yet again) on Jan 30, and among the gifts I'm offering myself for Feb 23...and beyond, of course I intend to~~
emoticontrack nutrition and exercise daily
emoticondaily asanas
emoticondo strength training Mon, Wed, and Fri, with sit-ups Sat or Sun.
emoticondo something aerobic for at least 20 min. five days per week

It's such a simple thing to ask of myself considering the huge pay-off, but dang it, it's hard. I refuse classify myself as a lazy, do-nothing, just-get-by kinda' person. I CAN DO THIS.
Here's an anticipatory, poignant birthday poem:


Life is tough.
It takes up a lot of your time, all your weekends,
and what do you get at the end of it?
...Death, a great reward.
I think the life cycle is all backwards.
You should die first, get it out of the way.
Then you should live twenty years in an old-age home.
You get kicked out when you're too young,
you get a gold watch, you go to work.
You work for forty years until you're
young enough to enjoy your retirement.
You go to college, you party until you're ready for high school,
you become a little kid, you play, you have no responsibilities,
you become a little boy or girl, you go back into the womb,
you spend your last nine months floating.
And you finish off as a gleam in someone's eye.

-- Norman Glass
Here are some photos from wonderful times at celebrations for my 69th birthday, which remind me how deeply blessed I am with special local friends:

A delightful brunch on Feb 20 with Sandra

Out-and-about on Feb 21 with Jean and Gail

Birthday dinner on Feb 23 with Victor and Fritzie

The remaining are miscellaneous photos of a party Feb 26 at Gail's home:

Judy, me, and Johnye laughing so hard we're crying! Judy turned 60 last year and her mom Johnye turned 80! So I'm literally right in the middle!

Camille checking out some of the wonderful food fare brought by everyone.

Gail and Sandra

Leslie, Beth, Jean, and me

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

GIRANIMAL 2/6/2012 3:15PM

    70?! If I didn't know you, I'd call you a liar! emoticon Happy birthday month, Maha. May every day bring us more beautiful souls such as yourself. emoticon

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ME_HERE_NOW 2/4/2012 7:09PM

    i hope it is another wonderful year of love and laughter, your spark burns bright my friend!

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    I haven't considered celebrating a birthday month, but oh what I could do!Both my daughters celebrate this month too!
Rock your socks off. emoticon emoticon emoticon

Comment edited on: 2/4/2012 6:16:54 AM

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RIDMYCOCOON 2/3/2012 1:41PM

    Have a WONDROUS birthday month :) emoticon

Comment edited on: 2/3/2012 1:41:54 PM

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ABURRIS2 2/3/2012 1:09PM

    As always, you have offered so much in your reflections! I'll share this birthday month with you, celebrating in spirit. ~ann

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2BMYOWN 2/3/2012 12:43AM

    Happy birthday month, Maha, I think EVERYONE should have a month to celebrate their birthday, personally. LOL I mean, isn't that fair??? Wishes to you for a wonderful month and wonderful year ahead! From your totally awesome sparky bud. LMAO

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SOULFISH80 2/2/2012 11:41PM

    Happy birthday month to a true beauty. The photos are lovely, looks like you have some wonderful friends. I really enjoyed that poem on aging backwards....would be quite nice. So good to read a bit about what you are up to. You are a shining beacon of a life well lived. I hope this is the best birthday yet.

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HIPPICHICK1 2/2/2012 2:34PM

    First of all, 70?? You? I think 70 is the new 60, lady! Great photos!! Have a spectacular birthday month.
emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

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CATS_MEOW_0911 2/2/2012 12:54PM

    Hooray for your birthday month! I love the poem.

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CRYSTALJEM 2/2/2012 12:31PM

    Enjoy your birthday month day and year! I find it funny that you refer to yourself as a wimpy Pisces when I always think of you as someone of great strength, determination and confidence. Cheers!

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JESPAH 2/2/2012 11:12AM

    Sparkle on!

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1HAPPYWOMAN 2/2/2012 1:38AM

    Seeing your smiling face reminds me why I am on this sparkling journey: I want to be as healthy and happy as you look when I am nearing the big seven OH!
emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

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BRIGHTSPARK7 2/2/2012 12:04AM

    Krishna Das! Sweet. A deelishus gift,soaring with Kirtan. You come up with amazing adventures. Love you too, Mahalakshmi.

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VALERIEMAHA 2/1/2012 10:54PM

    Ok Usha, I've edited in some FUN to the mix!

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BRIGHTSPARK7 2/1/2012 10:25PM

    Wooooo hooooo! You inspire me as always. What gift would you like to give yourself, that isnt a should? Let the revelry begin! Your photos from last year are filled with so much joy rising.
The poem had me smiling.
Thank you, dear heart.

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JUST_BREATHE08 2/1/2012 8:47PM

    emoticon lady, awesome blog, awesome poem & Wonderful pictures!!!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY for the Whole Month of February. Enjoy!!!

emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

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2WHEELEDSHARON 2/1/2012 8:36PM

    I love birthdays just because they're like inexpensive group weddings with all ones friends, ha ha! Happy birthday month, please do give yourself those gifts:-)

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SUNNY332 2/1/2012 8:27PM

    emoticon emoticon emoticon Here is a toast to many, many more happy years.

Hope the day was as special as you are!

Hugs, Sunny

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WATERMELLEN 2/1/2012 8:10PM

    You've got some great gifts lined up for you! and only you can give them to you! But: I'm sure you will!!

Love the Glass poem.

Seventy is a perfectly splendid age and wow, you make it look soooo good!!

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STILLPOINT 2/1/2012 8:03PM

    Hello Beautiful Maha,

Wishing you a wonderful birthday month as you celebrate your 70th year. I am sure you will continue to touch others as you have touched me. I will recite the Tryumbakam prayer for you. Blessings to you!

P.S. Also returned to SP just a few days ago - nice to be back!

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EMRANA 2/1/2012 7:45PM

  You're so special, you deserve to celebrate the whole month!

Happy happy!


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PUDLECRAZY 2/1/2012 7:14PM

    Ah, celebrate all month!~ Celebrate all year!~

You are a joy!


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PENNYAN45 2/1/2012 5:52PM

    You will soon be a French Septante
and a Roman LXX,
which becomes you
because you are one who
gives much Love,
has an Xpansive approach to the world
and who is a lifelong Xplorer.

I hope you celebrate all month long!!

emoticon emoticon emoticon

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SMILEYBEE 2/1/2012 5:06PM

    Well there's something we have in common ... I always celebrate my birth month too ... there's just too much to celebrate to limit it to one day! So, happy birth month to you!

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DAISY443 2/1/2012 4:37PM

    Ah, Maha, you're still just a kid! Great goals. You add Spark to my life! Thanks!

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DDOORN 2/1/2012 4:22PM

    Don't know anyone that SPARKS quite as brightly as you 'Maha...!

Keep on taking great care of yourself and pile on years and years of delight! :-)


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_RAMONA 2/1/2012 3:55PM

    I love the idea of finishing off life as the gleam in someone's eye... and I actually think we do, LOL! While I get the gist of the poem, I wonder if it were to be this way, if we would actually appreciate the magnitude of the gleam just because we are who we are (or if we could comprehend the gifts of twilight)... pondering required.

What a lovely party for a lovely, precious woman! I hope this year is even better!

{{{{{{{{ HUGS }}}}}}}}}

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  What a wonderful group of friends you have (from the looks of your photos)
Happy Birthday!

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VALERIEMAHA 2/1/2012 3:53PM

    LOL Deb, it wasn't me that was away. It was dear BRIGHTSPARK7!

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    I cannot believe that you are turning 70! You look AMAZING!!!! Happy birth month my dear friend!!!!!

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MISS_VIV 2/1/2012 3:49PM

    OH MY - it's that big 70 . . . I remember it well.
If you hadn't told me I wouldn't be able to guess your age.
You are ageless - and priceless.
A wonderful work of art.
A miracle in progress.

Much love
thanks for the pix emoticon

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DEBK0923 2/1/2012 3:49PM

    glad to have you back

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Luminous Tease

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Crazy wisdom teacher Rob Brezsny sez' it like no one else can!


Change yourself in the way you want everyone else to change
Love your enemies in case your friends turn out to be jerks
Avoid thinking about winning the lottery while making love
Brainwash yourself before someone nasty beats you to it
Confess big secrets to people who aren't very interested
Write a love letter to your evil twin during a lunar eclipse
Fool the tricky red beasts guarding the Wheels of Time
Locate the master codex and add erudite graffiti to it
Dream up wilder, wetter, more interesting problems
Change your name every day for a thousand days
Exaggerate your flaws till they turn into virtues
Kill the apocalypse and annihilate Armageddon
Brag about what you can't do and don't have
Get a vanity license plate that reads KZMYAZ
Bow down to the greatest mystery you know
Make fun of people who make fun of people
See how far you can spit a mouthful of beer
Pick blackberries naked in the pouring rain
Scare yourself with how beautiful you are
Simulate global warming into your pants
Stage a slow-motion water balloon fight
Pretend your wounds are exotic tattoos
Sing anarchist lullabies to lesbian trees
Plunge butcher knives into accordions
Commit a crime that breaks no laws
Sip the tears of someone you love
Build a plush orphanage in Minsk
Feel sorry for a devious lawyer
Rebel against your horoscope
Give yourself another chance
Write your autohagiography
Play games with no rules
Teach animals to dance
Trick your nightmares
Relax and go deeper
Dream like stones
Mock your fears
Drink the sun
Sing love
Be mojo
Do jigs
Ask id

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

CRYSTALJEM 2/2/2012 11:07PM

    Really enjoyed this, I've been reading Brezsny for awhile now and thought this was great. Thanks for sharing.

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GOANNA2 2/1/2012 7:35AM

    Love life and you dear Maha. emoticon emoticon

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PEACEFULONE 1/31/2012 11:53PM

    This is fabulous. Love the picture and the poem but I would end with love.

Drink the sun
Sing play
Be mojo
Do jigs
Ask id

Life-it's all about love!

emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

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COSMIC_ENERGY 1/31/2012 9:23PM

    Can't wait to design my exotic tatoos!

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GENKI_WARRIOR 1/31/2012 3:24PM

    mmmmm: sing Love!

Thanks for this

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_RAMONA 1/31/2012 1:28PM

    O.M.G! Where to begin...

I'll be pondering and celebrating:

Change yourself in the way you want everyone else to change
Love your enemies in case your friends turn out to be jerks
(especially apt for me right now)
Avoid thinking about winning the lottery while making love
(too often my striving robs me of my treasures)
Brainwash yourself before someone nasty beats you to it
(My life and I will become what I choose to believe)
Dream up wilder, wetter, more interesting problems
(Think I'm gonna have some FUN with this)
Change your name every day for a thousand days
(I choose to believe the truth about myself no matter how beautiful)
Exaggerate your flaws till they turn into virtues
(truer than anyone may guess)
Bow down to the greatest mystery you know
Pick blackberries naked in the pouring rain
(very nearly have and it was delicious!)
Scare yourself with how beautiful you are
(working on it...)
Pretend your wounds are exotic tattoos
(Oh my... what a picture! ROTFL... and isn't that the point?)
Sip the tears of someone you love
(The least I can do... My heart once again broken with joy)
Give yourself another chance
(moment by moment, strength and weakness balanced)
Sing love
(my best thing!!!)
Be mojo
(this one is going to take some study...)

(when I read the title in the spark notification, I thought you'de be writing about ME, LOL!)
emoticon emoticon

{{{{{{{{{{ HUGS }}}}}}}}}

This was my soundtrack as I read... I thought you might like it... oh... the cabbage head is me, LOL!

Comment edited on: 1/31/2012 1:38:56 PM

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BECOMINGONE 1/31/2012 1:13PM

    Great fun! Good ideas! Shake it up for a change!


PS Did you do this before or after your test? hahaha

Comment edited on: 1/31/2012 1:13:49 PM

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HIPPICHICK1 1/31/2012 12:45PM

    I've been reading Brezsny's horoscopes since the early 90's. Love this dude!!

Brag about what you can't do and don't have
See how far you can spit a mouthful of beer
Simulate global warming into your pants
Sing anarchist lullabies to lesbian trees

The image in our blog is gorgeous.

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GIRANIMAL 1/31/2012 12:09PM

    I just read this a few minutes ago in my email. emoticon

Two of my favorite lines:
"Exaggerate your flaws till they turn into virtues"
"Pretend your wounds are exotic tattoos"
plus of course the "brainwashing" one DEBRA0818 so brilliantly already noted. emoticon

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JESPAH 1/31/2012 11:13AM

    Fantastic! Do you know Pablo Neruda's poem, "Legs"? Similar vibe.

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JITZUROE 1/31/2012 11:04AM

    Scare yourself with how beautiful you are- that made my eyes well up. I stare at what my disease is going to my body daily with sadness and despair, NEVER looking for any glimpse of beauty in my arms and legs (and now nose and ears). That line really spoke to me. I needed to hear it, and I NEED to change my view.
Thank you thank you.....I needed this!

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SUNNY332 1/31/2012 10:39AM

    Love it and love that the poetry played with the shape.

What fun! It is a keeper, just like you!

Huggers, Sunny

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DMPRIDER 1/31/2012 9:30AM

    Lots of great ideas there to shake us out and wake us up. Thanks for posting!

I don't think I will pick blackberries naked though, too thorny. LOL

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DDOORN 1/31/2012 9:29AM

    What fun! Love poetry that plays with shape...remember once upon a time dabbling with this back in my college days.


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KALIGIRL 1/31/2012 8:59AM

    Absolutely fabulous!!!
Sending to all my 3D friends.

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RAINBOWFALLS 1/31/2012 8:54AM


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DEBRA0818 1/31/2012 8:26AM

    I really like "Brainwash yourself before someone nasty beats you to it." Thanks for posting!


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JUST_BREATHE08 1/31/2012 8:25AM

    Love it. Thank you! Looks like a tornado. Not the picture but the words.

I like this one.....Get a vanity license plate that reads KZMYAZ. emoticon

Comment edited on: 1/31/2012 8:29:24 AM

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Sunday, January 29, 2012

Am I ready?

When I left for the summer in Ecuador and Colombia I weighed 131. Here are some exquisite reminders of last summer with my Latino family:

My dear friend Adelaida, as we trundled through Putumayo, a state in the jungles of Colombia

Amrita (my god daughter, Adelaida's daughter) and I enjoying oranges after harvesting many, in San Agustin, Colombia

German (Amrita's dad) and I enjoying a delicious lunch at a friend's house in San Agustin

I'm sad to say that, far from the 131 lbs. I began the summer with, the scale saw me seriously flirting with 150 lbs. today.

The sirens go off, red lights come on, anxiety levels increase...I feel out of control!

I know that tracking food intake again is the key to reversing this disaster-in-the-making. AND, I'm surprised to say that I actually logged in my food while uploading the photos. I did well on all fronts, calories, fats, and carbs. As always, my protein is a little low, but I don't subscribe to the protein level that SP does. So, for today at least, I AM ACCOUNTABLE.

I had a sumptuous salad for lunch today -- a big pile of arugula and romaine greens, with chopped celery, cucumber, red peppers, strawberries -- all organic, sliced avocado and feta cheese. Here's what it looked like:

I enjoy Annie's Naturals dressings and tried a new one today on the salad:

I am becoming more regular with exercise finally. I'm beginning to feel a consistency with strength training. I'm not doing as well with aerobic activity, although TODAY my special friend SANDRA5898 and I met and went bicycling. It was a beautiful day and her company was JUST what I needed. It was perfect in every way.

Yep! Here we are leaving Panera's where we enjoyed coffee and catching up!

So, I hope this is the beginning of moving back into balance in the midst of it all. I'll keep you updated!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

ME_HERE_NOW 2/1/2012 11:39PM

    you are flipping the page, writing the story of your life the way you want it to read, and i love it!

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GIRANIMAL 1/31/2012 12:15PM

    Oh, Maha, you give me hope. emoticon

I am positively freaking over 6-9 pounds that FEELS like 20 lately, and here you are, in your calm wisdom, approaching your own scale madness with the grace that only you can. emoticon

Hope you enjoyed your ride! I loved my my ride into work today -- 45 degrees and sunny, at 8:30 a.m. on Jan. 31 in Chicago!

emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

Oh! And your salad looks dreamy. emoticon

Comment edited on: 1/31/2012 12:15:46 PM

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GENKI_WARRIOR 1/31/2012 9:52AM


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WATERMELLEN 1/30/2012 7:19PM

    Tracking is the key, and you're back on track!

Good for you. Give yourself credit.

You've caught the trend before it became entrenched.

Good for you again!

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PUDLECRAZY 1/30/2012 7:11PM

    With this determination, you will be back on track. You did it before and you can turn it around again. I wish I could make you some yummy, nutritious, and diet friendly meals.

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GOANNA2 1/30/2012 3:48PM

    emoticonYou are well on your way to
losing all that you gained. I just loved your salad.
Thanks for sharing the lovely photos.
Anna emoticon

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BECOMINGONE 1/30/2012 10:36AM

    You know you're going to lose it. How many years have you maintained your weight loss? You're not about to let it go now. Just have to get vigilant again .... and what better time of the year to ride bicycle? Loved riding with you yesterday. Going to explore the trail some today .... maybe we can ride again on Sunday?????


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HIPPICHICK1 1/30/2012 10:15AM

    Being ever vigilant seems to be the only cure (for me, anyway) to avoid the creep - those pounds that creep back on our bodies when we aren't being vigilant.
That salad looks fab!!

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CRYSTALJEM 1/30/2012 9:49AM

    You've recognized it so now you can do it! It makes me feel better to know that people like you still have to make it work sometimes - it's not just "magic" so to speak. Thanks for the honesty and showing us all how to stay committed even when those pounds start sneeking back on.

I am definitely suffering from a food hangover today - and I've decided it doesn't really feel any better than a booze hangover, just different! Glad I read your blog - today I'm back to being accountable and I won't cry in my soup (don't need the extra salt!) I'll just eat it and stay on track.

Ok, off to do chores and then yoga and then maybe more sparking..... guess I should fit work in there somewhere.... drat! LOL Have a sparkly day! CJ

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JESPAH 1/30/2012 9:26AM

    Balance, balance! :)

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SUNNY332 1/30/2012 9:20AM

    ...and what a perfect day yesterday for biking.

Great Blog and BTW, the salad looked great.

Do have a good week.


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MAZZYR 1/30/2012 8:48AM

    I am recommitting to releasing weight, dear Maha, so your blog and pictures are just what I needed to read and see this morning. I'm always looking to add healthy low calorie delicious meals to my menu. BTW, DH uses Annie's Naturals Lite Raspberry Vinaigrette and loves it.

I can already see us getting thinner each and every day.


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KALIGIRL 1/30/2012 8:35AM

    Here's to accountability to our goals! Glad to hear the exercise is becoming part of your life and you had a wonderful excursion with Sandra.

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BILL60 1/30/2012 7:59AM

    Allright, let's get serious and lose it quickly and efficiently. You can do it!!

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DAISY443 1/30/2012 6:33AM

    Great pics, thanks for sharing! I see a lot of us are having the winter blahs and having trouble getting back on track. So, here's to us and to getting healthier!

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JUST_BREATHE08 1/30/2012 5:39AM

    emoticonBlog. Thank you for sharing. I loved the pictures.

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1HAPPYWOMAN 1/30/2012 2:28AM

    When you have goal that you are passionate about, and you give it your time and energy, you have already succeeded! You're already there, just by trying.

I'm going to go drink a toast to your health. Water, but in a wine glass, so it's extra special! Bonne sante, Maha!

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2BMYOWN 1/29/2012 11:15PM

    You guys are so lucky, living close enough to ride together. I wish I could find some sparkers in this neck of the woods, now that I actually have time to do something. LOL But then I never know how long that will last....I'll be stumping the pavement this coming week to try to find another job and I'm sure it'll be something with no weekends off, if I'm lucky enough to find anything at all. (sigh) Keep it up, Maha, you'll lose that excess in no time, I have a feeling.....

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DDOORN 1/29/2012 10:12PM

    Kudos to getting down to business! Nothing like getting out with a SparkBuddy for a ride!

Gotta put the hammer to it and get serious with the nutrition tracker and accountability with my food choices!

Right there with you 'Maha! Looking forward to my first ride of the year...SOMETIME...although we've had mild weather for January it's still been just a bit too cold for me to consider riding just yet.


Comment edited on: 1/29/2012 10:13:32 PM

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2WHEELEDSHARON 1/29/2012 10:09PM

    Yes! You know exactly what you need! Good friends, good food, and good tracking. Me too:-)
Thanks for sharing such beautiful piks.

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COSMIC_ENERGY 1/29/2012 9:48PM


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    YOu've got this!! And that Annie's dressing made my mouth water! Adore you!

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CAROLISCIOUS 1/29/2012 9:45PM

    In one week's time I went from feeling solid in my plan to get rid of the holiday weight feeling like a total loser...and I don't mean a weight loser. The food tracker is my best friend again!

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DMPRIDER 1/29/2012 9:28PM

    You are getting yourself back on the right track and that is the key. Persistence, not perfection is the name of the game. You can do it!

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GETSTRONGRRR 1/29/2012 9:26PM

    Looks like you've found your way back on track. For me, tracking food is internal calorie estimator is broken....I always think I've eaten less than I actually have. the tracker keeps me straight.

That looks like a great salad, and you pictures are fantastic. I've spent time in Ecuador and all of south america!

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DEUSMACHINA 1/29/2012 8:54PM

    Oh my! That lunch looks divine! (trust me to focus on the food...)

Excellent work on the tracking. You're right: it *is* the key!

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_RAMONA 1/29/2012 8:48PM

    The two of you look SO joyFULL, and I'm glad for you that you're finding your way to a better place for yourself!

Love you BUNCHES, mAHA!
{{{{{{{{{ HUGS }}}}}}}}}}

P.S. I am SO envious of you with your lovely Sparkfriends where you can TOUCH them, LOL!

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BECOMINGONE 1/29/2012 8:12PM

    Accountability to oneself ... what a concept? Love the picture of us ... and you know how I LOVE to have my picture taken. I saved it to my hard drive .... maybe i'll put it on my refrigerator to remind me of the next frontier. Can't wait until next time we ride together ... LOL


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CHANGING-TURTLE 1/29/2012 8:01PM

    emoticon emoticon

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EMRANA 1/29/2012 8:00PM

  Can't go wrong with Panera's! YUM!

I'm sure you'll be back to 131 in no time. You're so active and dedicated.


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RAPUNZEL53 1/29/2012 8:00PM

  Great pictures! God Luck!

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Straight talk

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

I am struck dumb by my teacher, Mary Oliver --

Straight Talk From Fox

Listen says fox it is music to run
over the hills to lick
dew from the leaves to nose along
the edges of the ponds to smell the fat
ducks in their bright feathers but
far out, safe in their rafts of
sleep. It is like
music to visit the orchard, to find
the vole sucking the sweet of the apple, or the
rabbit with his fast-beating heart. Death itself
is a music. Nobody has ever come close to
writing it down, awake or in a dream. It cannot
be told. It is flesh and bones
changing shape and with good cause, mercy
is a little child beside such an invention. It is
music to wander the black back roads
outside of town no one awake or wondering
if anything miraculous is ever going to
happen, totally dumb to the fact of every
moment's miracle. Don't think I haven't
peeked into windows. I see you in all your seasons
making love, arguing, talking about God
as if he were an idea instead of the grass,
instead of the stars, the rabbit caught
in one good teeth-whacking hit and brought
home to the den. What I am, and I know it, is
responsible, joyful, thankful. I would not
give my life for a thousand of yours.

~ Mary Oliver ~
(Red Bird)

I poured over, and then posted on, my friend Sandras' blog about forgiveness earlier this morning: Because of a rough period I've been traversing recently (as well as habits and behavior of a lifetime), reading, digesting, and responding to her heart's outpouring was not easy.

And then to segue to Fox's "straight talk" -- truly struck me dumb for a long spell, sending me into self-reflection. Since returning from the holidays month in California I've sunk into a shadow place that has been seemingly holding me captive (dumb I know, but that's how it has felt). The deeper I have sunk into the darkness, the more impotent I've felt. I don't feel the necessity of going into detail, but suffice it to say that the end result has been chaos in every part of my daily life.

I believe my lack of movement has been the major culprit in adding pounds to my body, and as I near 150 pounds, all the red lights and alarms have started going off, because that is the No-Woman's Land that I never want to enter again, a place in the downward spiral from which an increasing slide out of control has inevitably resulted. In the years since I've released the 203 pounds, and mostly "lived" close to 130 pounds, 140 has historically been the place when I'd again "get serious" about roping in my habits, but yesterday I was 148.7, a scary place that I want to quickly move away from.

Yesterday, a little gleam of light somehow found its way into my spirit and, dressing warmly for the 32 degrees morning, I jumped on my bike to cycle the five miles to campus. This is my second instance of *serious* movement (late last week I completed upper body strength training) since my Jan 7 return from San Francisco. These two victories may seem puny, but they feel very important in my battle with the dark side of my nature.

I need a many-pronged approach to begin the climb out of this dark place, and this morning's return to another session of strength training will be part of today's intention. So here's what today looks like~~

~ strength training
~ complete unpacking luggage (do I sense a lack of *grounding* here?) from Jan 7 return
~ store suitcases (is there some symbolism here?)
~ finish course assignments for tomorrow
~ complete two parts of job tasks
~ head into town for haircut and shopping
~ a large dose of joy!

...and VOILA! Here I am world, ready-or-not, beginning the climb once again into that "place just right:"
emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon
UPDATE on this gray, rainy afternoon --

~ strength training and village chores completed
~ suitcases unpacked and stored
~ bed made with fresh flannel sheets
~ class work begun
~ job tasks being carried over to tomorrow through the weekend
~ tasty food prepared:

A kale and rainbow chard saute, heaped upon roasted potato, the greens bed topped with pinto beans, cottage cheese, and salsa, all heated, smashed avocado spooned on last.

And what about this for dessert: Fresh organic strawberries sliced into Fage 0% Greek Yogurt with a drizzle of maple syrup and a handful of toasted organic walnuts thrown on top? Do I hear a resounding YUM? Now to begin tracking food again.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

2BMYOWN 1/31/2012 11:30PM

    Seems I'm always a day late and a dollar just now catching up on your blogs.....again. (sigh) But I'm glad you were able to pull yourself up out of the abyss. I just wanna know why the abyss is so easy to fall into, repeatedly. Personally, I think it's a cosmic conspiracy. Kudos on having enough fortitude to know what you have to do, and then DOING it, that's exactly where a lot of people fall short! I don't know where you find the pics you post on your blogs, but gotta love that fox! LOL

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DEBRA0818 1/27/2012 3:18PM


Many thanks for your comments at my blog and I see you have more to add than you think: your menu sounds like just the thing I'm meant to be doing now, and it looks like a great thing to be dedicated to at that!

Finding your way back to good habits just feels so right whether the sun is circling Pisces for the 15th time or the 70th. The truth (about health and good habits) never changes.

Cheers, Deb
emoticon emoticon

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DARKTHOR 1/27/2012 12:41PM

    I really like the steps you set for yourself and am happy that you achieved them. Moving in a (any?) positive direction beats stagnating by a country mile. (Are miles bigger in the country?)

I'm sending positive thoughts your way.

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MEDDYPEDDY 1/27/2012 1:26AM

    Really loved that straight talk from fox...thanks, it filled my heart with music!

For the dark places...I have been thinking a little about them and wondering if my dark places maybe are the places the godly inspiration will come from - in loving bright blessed lala land not much happens..;-)

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JUST_BREATHE08 1/26/2012 11:07PM

    Sending emoticon to you!!

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WATERMELLEN 1/26/2012 8:23PM

    So sorry that you've been in a dark place. It's amazing what great art will do to help with that . . . and your beloved Mary Oliver is a great artist.

Congrats to you on your victories today. Wishing you victories tomorrow too.

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BECOMINGONE 1/26/2012 7:47PM

    Dear one,
I just read your blog. Know you are loved ... You do not need to be in that dark place alone. I am always available to listen or just be with you.

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MAZZYR 1/26/2012 10:01AM

    Good morning, dear Maha.

Your update on all that you have accomplished is inspiring me to stop thinking about all that I need to do and just do it.

BTW, YUM, YUM, YUM in response to your food choices.


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JESPAH 1/26/2012 9:23AM


Renewal is great, ain't it?

And I agree - your putting your suitcases away and unpacking are probably going to go a long way to making you feel more settled. I've found that decrapifying has been doing that for me. :)

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1HAPPYWOMAN 1/25/2012 11:53PM

    Yes, a resounding YUM! There's your large dose of joy! Your blog sparked some memories in me, which led me to some excerpts of Muriel Rukeyser's poem 'Kathe Kollwitz.'

my lifetime
listens to yours.

The faces of the sufferers
in the street, in dailiness,
their lives showing
through their bodies
a look as of music
the revolutionary look
that says I am in the world
to change the world
my lifetime
is to love to endure to suffer the music
to set its portrait
up as a sheet of the world
the most moving the most alive
What would happen in one woman told the truth about her life?
The world would split open.

Thanks for telling the truth about your life, Maha.

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COSMIC_ENERGY 1/25/2012 11:11PM

    Sending hugs emoticon

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GOANNA2 1/25/2012 8:31PM

    First of all - YUM! I am sorry to hear that you are feeling
blue. emoticon emoticonYou will come out of this
and the first steps you have taken are proof of that. We have all
been to that dark place and just reading the fox and the words of
Gibrain are just what is needed for the soul. You are on the right
track. Love you, Maha. emoticon emoticon

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PUDLECRAZY 1/25/2012 3:14PM

    I always find that physical activity is my way out of the dark patches, yet it can be so elusive. Emotional stress/shutdown seems to shut down the desire to be physically active, the thing that helps me most. One little step in the right direction, though, and it becomes less and less difficult to pull forward toward a lighter being.

Your foray out on your bike is a great beginning to finding your way out of the downward spiral. I wish you lived closer.


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DAISY443 1/25/2012 2:51PM

    Hugs, my friend!

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_RAMONA 1/25/2012 2:47PM

    Ah.. my friend... I've wondered at your silence... something about it didn't 'feel' right (as silly as that may sound).

"There is in every true woman's heart a spark of heavenly fire, lying dormant in the broad daylight of prosperity; but kindles up, and beams and blazes in the dark hour of adversity." WASHINGTON IRVING

YOU are such a woman, and you will find your way anew... and my heart sorrows for your struggle, yet I rejoice because,

"Death itself
is a music. Nobody has ever come close to
writing it down, awake or in a dream. It cannot
be told. It is flesh and bones
changing shape and with good cause, mercy
is a little child beside such an invention."

I've been thinking about this a lot of late. Not just body but spirit changes shape and with good cause.

And I danced... because "What I am, and I know it, is
responsible, joyful, thankful. I would not
give my life for a thousand of yours."


...And I have to thank you for other gifts given and received with rejoicing and awe:

~ Ann (of course I knew it was the two of you ... how do you think I found Ann... I followed YOU... one of the brightest stars in my heart... even from distances dark)
~ Sandra
~ Mary Oliver
~ breath coming easier
~ delight
~Yo-Yo Ma and Alison Krauss (oh my heart broke with JOY!)
~ leading me to myself will ever repay you?

Until I find a way... May today and every day bring to you a ridiculous abundance of whatever you need. May all your concerns, struggles, anxieties and fears fall like ashes as you rise on eagle's wings, SOARING above all that would hinder you along this tremendous adventure of being and becoming all you are created to be. May the grace of God simply "overtake" you moment by moment. May the joy and victory of the risen Lord be yours in a very personal way... may you always be overwhelmed by the grace of God, rather than by the cares of life! AMEN.

{{{{{{{{{{ HUGS }}}}}}}}}

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VALERIEMAHA 1/25/2012 2:39PM

    Ohhhhhhhhhhhh...this Gibran selection is soooooooo perfect.

Bowing in gratitude,

Here are my dear friends WILDHONEYPIE1 (below) and PUDLECRAZY (above):


Comment edited on: 1/25/2012 3:33:02 PM

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WILDHONEYPIE1 1/25/2012 1:32PM

    Your joy is your sorrow unmasked.

And the selfsame well from which your
laughter rises was oftentimes filled with your

And how else can it be?

The deeper that sorrow carves into your
being, the more joy you can contain.

Is not the cup that holds your wine the very
cup that was burned in the potter's oven?

And is not the lute that soothes your
spirit, the very wood that was hollowed
with knives?

When you are joyous, look deep into
your heart and you shall find it is only that
which has given you sorrow that is giving
you joy.

When you are sorrowful look again in
your heart, and you shall see that in truth
you are weeping for that which has been
your delight.

Some of you say, "Joy is greater than
sorrow," and others say, "Nay, sorrow is
the greater."

But I say unto you, they are inseparable.

Together they come, and when one sits
alone with you at your board, remember
that the other is asleep upon your bed.

Verily you are suspended like scales be-
tween your sorrow and your joy.

Only when you are empty are you at
standstill and balanced.

-excerpt from The Prophet, by Kahlil Gibran

(reflections I've had to hold onto myself lately) emoticon

ps I loved Fox

Comment edited on: 1/25/2012 1:33:10 PM

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    a LARGE dose of joy! LOVE THIS!

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MYTIME001 1/25/2012 11:40AM

    What a lovely poem. We have a fox that visits regularly, and now next time we see the fox it will be in the light of this poem. Thanks for sharing that!
I has no idea that you have shed so much weight. What an amazing victory. I can understand about the warning bells going off. All the best in vanquishing the dark...and those pounds you don't want.

Thank you for this blog.

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MISS_VIV 1/25/2012 10:34AM

    And then the little groundhog... dug her way to the light . . . There is no reason to stay in that dark space any longer. Love and light await you when you ride like the wind into the day. Have a super, super day and know that you are loved and we miss you when you don't come out to play. emoticon

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DDOORN 1/25/2012 10:13AM

    So sorry to hear of your struggles, 'Maha...! We are similar: silence does NOT become us...! No news is almost always NOT good news!

Great plans for the days ahead! Hope you can hear & see the cheering crowds in our hearts! I know these struggles are so internal, but nonetheless don't ever hesitate to let us know if there's anything we can do to help!


ps...and YES, Sandras' blog was very special! I could SO relate!

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SUNNY332 1/25/2012 10:12AM

    Way to go on the Straight Talk! I know when I don't exercise, I get to feeling a little down too.

Good plan to get going again.
BTW - Loved the Mary Oliver poem today - especially
this part.

I see you in all your seasons
making love, arguing, talking about God
as if he were an idea instead of the grass,
instead of the stars, the rabbit caught
in one good teeth-whacking hit and brought
home to the den. What I am, and I know it, is
responsible, joyful, thankful. I would not
give my life for a thousand of yours.

Give it your best today and be joyful!


Report Inappropriate Comment live with my eyes open....

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

I had it in mind to blog again when I have the last of the photos from my sojourn on the west coast, but this...THIS transcendent Oliver needs to be shared with my SparkFriends. I hope it bathes your soul in shimmering light as it did mine.


Some black ducks
were shrugged up
on the shore.
It was snowing

hard, from the east,
and the sea
was in disorder.
Then some sanderlings,

five inches long
with beaks like wire,
flew in,
snowflakes on their backs,

and settled
in a row
behind the ducks --
whose backs were also

covered with snow --
so close
they were all but touching,
they were all but under

the roof of the duck's tails,
so the wind, pretty much,
blew over them.
They stayed that way, motionless,

for maybe an hour,
then the sanderlings,
each a handful of feathers,
shifted, and were blown away

out over the water
which was still raging.
But, somehow,
they came back

and again the ducks,
like a feathered hedge,
let them
crouch there, and live.

If someone you didn't know
told you this,
as I am telling you this,
would you believe it?

Belief isn't always easy.
But this much I have learned --
if not enough else --
to live with my eyes open.

I know what everyone wants
is a miracle.
This wasn't a miracle.
Unless, of course, kindness --

as now and again
some rare person has suggested --
is a miracle.
As surely it is.

~ Mary Oliver --such an amazing link!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

2BMYOWN 1/31/2012 11:32PM

    I need to read Mary Oliver....she seems to 'speak' my language, and I have never heard of her prior to reading your blogs....thanks for posting this!

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SHANTISHANTI 1/27/2012 12:26PM

    I found Mary Oliver's work in 2005 when I was at my yoga teacher training at her sooooooo much. Thanks Maha. Namaste, Mary Ann

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WATERMELLEN 1/21/2012 7:52PM

    Kindness IS a miracle: and so too, this beautifully crafted poem. Thank you!!

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DOR2BFIT 1/21/2012 7:40PM

    Beautiful. Yes I believe it. emoticon

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FRACTALMYTH 1/21/2012 4:53PM


I find myself remembering one of my favourite poems from long ago - Marianne Moore's "Poetry"... perhaps because here, Oliver has beautifully fulfilled Moore's true purpose of poetry as "a place for the genuine"...

Dear sister of the soul, don't you just love imaginary gardens with real toads in them?

Comment edited on: 1/21/2012 4:56:50 PM

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JESPAH 1/21/2012 11:49AM

    Sweet and wonderful, as ever.

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RIDMYCOCOON 1/19/2012 10:01PM


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JUST_BREATHE08 1/19/2012 7:40PM

    emoticonAbsolutely Beautiful...Thank you so much for sharing!!

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2WHEELEDSHARON 1/19/2012 1:29PM

    emoticon emoticon emoticon

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KALIGIRL 1/19/2012 8:51AM

    Wonderful - how she manages to make us understand everyday miracles may be a miracle in itself...
Namaste emoticon

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PEACEFULONE 1/19/2012 1:51AM

    Again my soul is touched. Again I thank you dear Maha.

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DMPRIDER 1/18/2012 11:45PM

    As always, thank you for sharing!

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_RAMONA 1/18/2012 9:43PM

    Ah... Maha... this is sublime!

"let them crouch there and live."
"This wasn't a miracle. Unless, of course, kindness..."
"But this much I have learned... to live with my eyes open."

Such lessons for my life... I have such a strongly ingrained and narrowly defined sense of 'justice' ...which I've come to rue... it gets in the way of letting others 'crouch and live' gets in the way of grace and breathing freely.

...And kindness I see as more and more a miracle in my life... at least it feels so... and I feel miraculous in the receiving. Nothing feels to me more human and at once divine, these days, as kindness.

With my eyes open I am trying to live. Is it having turned 50? I only now see how closed my eyes have been.

THANK YOU, for sharing dear friend!

{{{{{{{{{ HUGS }}}}}}}}}}

P.S. I LOVE the site... I visit often... I learn many lessons...

"Your love should never be offered to the mouth of a stranger,
Only to someone
Who has the valor and daring
To cut pieces of their soul off with a knife
Then weave them into a blanket
To protect you."

Comment edited on: 1/18/2012 10:09:55 PM

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GMA2HALF 1/18/2012 9:28PM

    Words for the soul. Thank you for posting.

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COSMIC_ENERGY 1/18/2012 9:26PM

    Lovely Maha, lovely!

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SUNNY332 1/18/2012 7:04PM

    You know I love Mary Oliver and this one was beautiful.

Hope you are having a GREAT week.


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1HAPPYWOMAN 1/18/2012 6:55PM

emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

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HIPPICHICK1 1/18/2012 5:59PM


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FRANCESCANAZ 1/18/2012 5:37PM

    Muchas Gracias Maha. That was your birthday gift to me today emoticon

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DDOORN 1/18/2012 4:25PM

    Such a smile and sigh this brings from me...lovely blog site too...must return on a slower-paced day. Thank you so much for sharing, 'Maha!


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PENNYAN45 1/18/2012 3:06PM

    Thanks for again sharing beautiful images and words from Mary Oliver. Kindness is a miracle.

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GIANTPANDA 1/18/2012 2:52PM

    Mary Oliver is one of my favorite poets. Thank you for sharing the beautiful photo and poem! emoticon emoticon

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MISS_VIV 1/18/2012 2:21PM

    And yet another piece from Mary Oliver resonates with me today.. sent by my fantastic friend Maha...


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SLASALLE 1/18/2012 2:15PM

    Stunning thoughts, but that is always the case with Oliver, don't you think? I've not seen this one before, so many thanks!! I DEFINITELY believe kindness is a miracle!!!

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DAISY443 1/18/2012 2:14PM

    "As surely it is" Thanks for sharing this beautiful thought!

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    Oh how I love Mary Oliver. beautiful...thank you so much!

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