Saturday, December 31, 2016
Saturday, February 27, 2016
Wednesday, February 18, 2015
Sunday, September 21, 2014
Sunday, April 6, 2014
Because we have a family member who is struggling with dementia, my good friend Barbara recently lent me her copy of Pulling Taffy: A Year with Dementia and Other Adventures, by Tinky Weisblat. The author, a part-time resident of Hawley, MA, is not only a writer, but a singer, a humorist, and a food lover – and is especially attuned to how all of these good things can lift spirits and create community. Barbara reminded me that we met Tinky briefly about ten years ago when she was selling her Pudding Hollow Cookbook at an outdoor summer garden fest in Deerfield.
It was a surprise to find that what might be a tough or depressing subject in other hands became delightful reading in Tinky’s. This is not to say that she minimized the difficulties that both she and her mother had to endure in their last months together; but to a potentially heavy brew she added humor, insight, honesty, and a rich smattering of stories from her mother’s life. The result is a work that is both touching – and uplifting.
As a Feng Shui practitioner, the thing that struck me most about both Tinky and her mother Jan (affectionately called “Taffy”), was the quality of their personal energy, or chi. When a person’s chi is low, life can be hard or overwhelming; but when it is bubbling and moving, even the most challenging situations can be managed. It seems to me that both mother and daughter were able to find a vital source of refreshment within themselves, in spite of times that were certainly gray and bleak.
Tinky includes several photos of her mother in a variety of moments throughout her long interesting life. Here is clearly someone who was in LOVE with living! There is one of Jan as an infant sitting on her own mother’s lap – with a smile that spreads from ear to ear. This same smile lights up her 93-year old face, and makes us realize that it is a person’s ability to welcome life that defines their essence.
There are people among us who are inspiring because of their general cheerfulness and ability to appreciate the things around them. Tinky and Taffy were able to embrace the moment in their joy of simple things -- music, poetry, pets, food, sunshine and fresh air, the kindness of friends – certainly a recipe for good chi.
Thursday, October 31, 2013
Wednesday, September 11, 2013
Almost 12 years ago, during the weekend following September 11, I began my study of Feng Shui in earnest. I was part of the second class of The New England School of Feng Shui, and most of us were a bit dazed as we stood in the hallway outside a Worcester hotel meeting room waiting to get checked in. Many of us had wondered if the class would start as scheduled after the events of the week; but, as we moved forward in line sniffing the pleasantly uplifting aroma of nag champa incense, we began to feel that this was movement in the right direction.
Our guest teacher that weekend was William Spear, the author Feng Shui Made Easy: Designing Your Life with the Ancient Art of Placement. Mr. Spear told us that he had been in New York City during the towers collapse, although he had been unaware of what was happening. He had been working with a client in a soundproof room all morning, and only after he completed the session did he realize that the city was in chaos. With the events of the week as a compelling backdrop, Mr. Spear encouraged us to cultivate the “beginner’s mind”, that is, a mind that is present within each moment – and not defined by thoughts of past or future.
One of the greatest skills a Feng Shui practitioner can develop is to acknowledge the reality that exists -- to not turn away from a difficult, problematic, complex world; and at the same time, to be able to visualize what can be. To do this, we have to constantly bring ourselves back to a receptive state, something characterized by the image of an empty vessel. Mr. Spear underscored the fact that as human beings, we are “meaning making machines”. We are always trying to explain things both to ourselves and each other -- when most people are really in a state of “don’t know”. Although it goes against the grain of our western culture, Mr. Spear suggested that if we could pull back and accept this sense of not knowing, it would galvanize us.
The first chapter of Feng Shui Made Easy is entitled, “A New Way of Being”. It starts with a proverb that continues to inspire me a dozen years after hearing it for the first time, “Empty vessels make the most noise”. When we are empty we’re full of possibility – it is the state of being empty that makes the vessel useful. Thank you, William Spear.