The Cosmic Kiss: A Spiritual Signal

Post Cosmic Kiss

I had no plans to swim that morning, but I awoke to such a bright, beautiful day that I could not imagine exercising inside. After a quick cup of tea, I drove over to an outdoor pool I had recently found. After enjoying the solitude of swimming laps in my own lane, I got out to dry off. Sitting on the other side of the bench where I had left my towel was an attractive woman in her fifties, also drying off.

We started to chat and during our conversation, I mentioned that we were recent transplants from Chicago and still getting our bearings as to where to permanently settle down in Austin. She then mentioned that both she and her mom were planning to put their homes on the market. Would I be interested in some information? The hair on my arms stood straight up as we exchanged emails.

Before getting in the car, I decided to take a walk past a house that I had seen for sale last week that had intrigued me. I slowed down as I passed it, then walked to the corner and turned around. This time as I strolled by, I noticed a car parked in front and the gate open. I stood there for a minute surprised. Then, the real estate agent, whose photo was on the for-sale sign, opened the front door and with a big grin said hello and asked if I like to tour the house.

As JC* passed by the floral department at Trader Joe’s, she stopped to admire the lovely assortment. She bent down to take a sniff and thought about the men in her life that had always brought her flowers. They were all deceased now. She decided that she would just have to buy a bouquet for herself. When she took them to the register, the young man smiled at her and said …”It looks like one of the gladiolus bulbs is missing, so I am not going to charge you for these…”

It’s wonderful when the inexplicable surprises you. I call it a cosmic kiss. To me, it’s a sign from above that lets you know that someone is watching out for you, routing for you and that your thoughts and dreams aren’t in vain. As far as the kiss part, it’s not as dramatic as a romantic kiss or as impersonal as a peck on the cheek. I named it after one of those special kisses that a loved one gives you on your forehead that makes you smile and assures you that everything will be all right.

A cosmic kiss may not always be exactly in tune with your immediate goals or desires. It knows when to swoop down and disarm you just enough to get your attention. It can jolt, cajole, coax, bewilder and delight you. Its spiritual energy derives from a place personal to each of us; only we can decide where it flows from.

As it turned out, we were not really ready to seriously begin our house search as yet and the three homes mentioned above were not right for us anyway. Then, why did it all happen? Lately, I have been a bit too focused on where we would wind up and these little coincidences reminded me that there are lots of opportunities out there. This helped me to settle back down and keep to our original plan.

I’m always in search of the next cosmic kiss. How about you? Remember, if you walk through life with your head down, how will that special smooch know where to find you?

*Who’s who? See “Cast of Characters” on the “About” page.

 

 

 

 

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I Don’t Know Where I’m Going, But I’m On My Way

Photo Sense of Direction

OK, I admit it; I have no sense of direction. While others can logically navigate to and from their destinations, I am always left in a heightened state of panic suffering from topographical disorientation.

I guess that I was just born this way. Sure, from the outside I may seem confident. But, on the inside, some of my brain cells within their networks are miss-firing and not sending out the proper signals that help perform simple wayfinding skills. So, while you are confidently enjoying a walk or drive around new environs, I am either full of anxiety, trying to remember from which direction I came or making sure that I keep close to you, so that I am not lost forever.

I was the baby crawling in the opposite direction from the others at playtime and the reason that my grammar school made children on field trips wear bright red t-shirts. On the first day of junior high, I was sitting in the nurse’s office by fourth period, stressed to the point of stomach pains as I tried to maneuver to classes on three levels before the late bell rang.

To assist me in my daily commute to college in New York City, my Spanish grandmother tried teaching me about the subway system. Legend has it that, as a spirited young girl, she entered down the steps into the dark cavern of the city’s underbelly one day. After getting lost for six hours and without the command of the English language, she emerged unscathed with a working knowledge of the rapid transit system that would impress any conductor. Unfortunately, the knowledge she tried to impart on me was lost. Resigned to the fact that I never would learn the stops on the GG or the EE trains, she took to making the sign of the cross whenever I’d venture out alone.

When your 4-year old son tells you that you made the wrong turn to his play date’s home, it’s time for you to get your bearings. It would be 12 years before he would get his driver’s license, so I had no choice but to begin to keep a journal with directions written out to every location I could think of.

You would think that technology would have solved most of my problems. When Lola and I venture out alone, she does quite a good job of directing me. I have such an intimate relationship with our car’s navigation system that I’ve named her Lola. Together we head out on the open road, with her very authoritative voice instructing me (I swear that I can sense her annoyance when I miss a turn and she has to recalibrate the directions). It’s when Lola doesn’t speak to me that I get concerned. Though I should know by now that until there is a change in the route, she will not communicate, the silence always worries me. And, as I ask out loud why she is quiet and question whether I am still going the right way, I always feel that she is feeling quite smug, knowing just how much I depend on her.

I do have one thing in my favor. Luckily, my very underdeveloped sense of direction which relates to transporting me from place to place has not affected the other type of sense of direction that helps me to have a clear idea of what I want to achieve. Not wanting to always be the passenger and never the driver, I have to remember to just point myself in the right direction and follow my path.

 

 

 

An Inside Out Makeover

Photo Inside Out

I was mesmerized by her flawless makeup and her glow. She had an interesting face and it was highlighted just the right way so that she had a sophisticated air about her. Her English accent made everything she said sound much more important than it actually was.

I went back to paying attention to her sales pitch as she continued my complimentary makeup consultation. She spoke in a hushed tone and tried to impress me with the ingredients, as if someone walking by might try to steal the recipe. I didn’t think this was an issue as the secretion of African cochineal insects and shark liver oil combined with 20 letter words that Dr. Seuss would have been proud to call his own, made up the list (even more impressive when listed on the packaging in French).

With the precision of a scientist (her starched, white jacket did resemble a lab coat), she then proceeded to show me how to apply the free sample of the Synchronized Recovery Complex II Cream that I was about to receive. I was to use a cotton swab (my pinky might contaminate the ingredients) and dip it into the tiny jar, then take this minute bit of cream and tap it around my eyes every night (or, for as long as the 0.24 fluid ounces would last). She assured me that after seeing the results, I would be back to purchase the larger size. Unless my face transformed to that of a 24-year-old in the next week, I doubted that I would be investing $175 in my beauty care regimen.

It was fun to be pampered, but it made me think that while I was working so hard to transform the exterior me, what had I done lately to make over the interior me? I decided that once in a while, I should just turn myself inside out. That inner side doesn’t get out very much, so a little attention might do it some good:

  • I decided that on those days that I didn’t plan to be out and about, I would not wear any makeup (only face cream with SPF) and give my skin a much-needed rest.
  • In the morning, rather than jumping up and grabbing my to-do list, I would try opening my eyes and quietly make a cup of tea, sit outside, read something inspirational and try to meditate, even if just for a few minutes.
  • Instead of watching the morning TV shows on the treadmill when I exercised, I would start listening to Ted Talks. The acronym TED stands for technology, entertainment and design. These short, powerful talks (18 minutes or less) are intended to spread ideas and really do get you thinking.
  • During the course of the day, I would try to remember to slow down, take in my surroundings and enjoy the little moments.

We dedicate so much time and energy to our beauty regimen. We scrub, cream, oil, paint and sometimes even change our exteriors. Pampering our interiors might be just what we need to balance us and give us that radiance that we were searching for all along.

 

 

Decision Making: Lessons From Veggies, So You Don’t Get Steamed

 

Photo Veggies Decisions.png

Pity the poor cauliflower. Known as one of the world’s healthiest vegetables, it was content to swim in an occasional warm cheese sauce or crisp itself under some butter and breadcrumbs. Life was good, until some overzealous chefs convinced this seasoned, yet impulsive veggie to recreate itself as a starch. Now labelled as a faux, it graces dinner tables masquerading as rice or mashed potatoes, leaving foodies thrilled to discover a new craze, while confused as to its station, both in life and on the buffet line.

I don’t usually look to vegetables for life lessons, but in this case, I’ve made an exception. Having to choose between two or more courses of action can be quick and trivial or agonizingly life changing. Decisions constantly confront us and each person’s approach differs. Whether we do endless research, toss a coin or just put it off, we know that sooner or later, we need to deal with it.

According to the website skillsyouneed.com, the best method to help you come to a conclusion is to apply a combination of both intuition (that gut feeling) and reasoning (using facts and past experiences). Here are some simple steps they suggested to help improve the decision-making process:

  • Brainstorm: What are all the possible options available?
  • Time factor: How long do you have to make a decision? Will delay affect the outcome?
  • Information Gathering: research will help your confidence level.
  • Risk factors: Consider the worst possible outcome. Is it better to be safe?
  • Pros and cons: Put a line down the middle of a page and get to work.
  • Make the decision: Don’t allow yourself any “what ifs” and move on.

Here’s what I did not notice on the above list:

  • Fortunetelling: I still get chills when I think of the fortuneteller in a New York City restaurant, many years ago that guided me in making some important decisions and then disappeared, never to be found or heard from again.
  • The Ann Landers’ syndicated newspaper column: For 56 years, the column doled out advice and helped America make decisions from meatloaf ingredients to family disputes.
  • The pieces of paper that we folded up as children, wrote a series of end results down on each fold, then manipulated them in our hands to see which would one it would open to.
  • The eight ball: We would take turns asking it a question, turn it around a few times, the answer would magically appear and the yes, no, or maybe response always seemed to be the answer we had hoped for.

And now, back to cauliflower; not wanting to be considered a flash in the pan, he spiced up his life and had a heated fling with a carrot, resulting in the birth of orange cauliflower. Currently fresh out of rehab, cauliflower is now busy counseling zucchini as she makes her way down that same lonely road to stardom, playing the lead as the vegetable of choice with the Veggetti, the spiral vegetable cutter that will turn her into carb-less pasta.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Living in The Other White House and Other Childhood Memories

Photo White House

Until the age of ten, I was very proud to say that my first few years were spent living in the White House. I then realized that it was the other white house; a white brick apartment building in Washington Heights, a section of New York City. My parents and grandparents would reminisce about that time with such reverence. They both lived in the same building and now that I think back, the stories of their escapades were less presidential and more Lucy, Ricky, Fred and Ethel.

Once when I was a baby, my dad was playing with me and pressed a toy attached to a suction cup onto his forehead, much to my delight, only to find that it would not come off. The more he pulled, the tighter the hold.

Of course, the whole family had to accompany him to the hospital emergency department. My grandmother thought quickly and outfitted her son with a turban-style headdress. As is typical of New Yorkers, no one gave a second glance to the protruding appendage or the stifled giggles of the accompanying group during the entire subway ride.

As not to alter his dapper image, my dad went to work each day feigning surprise when any of his customers commented about the perfect, brightly colored circle in the middle of his forehead, which changed to every color of the rainbow before finally departing for good.

My grandmother had perfected the return of merchandise to an art form. Send her to any type of store with any kind of merchandise and she would exit victorious. Many rumors existed as to just what went on between this diminutive woman with a Spanish accent and the sales staff, but since she worked alone, it was only speculation. Many surmised that it had to do with her dark piercing eyes, which sparkled when she was happy and burned a hole into you when she was not.

There is still talk of her many New York City reimbursement exploits: my sister’s dead frog to a pet shop, her friend’s used lipstick to Henri Bendel, my aunt’s ripped, two-year old dress to Lord & Taylor, another friend’s dining room table missing a leg to Macy’s, but the most famous was the bedding story.

Never mind that the sheets were not quite new, they were not her accepted level of quality, so back they went. When the patronizing saleslady at B. Altman & Company on Fifth Avenue did not understand her, my grandmother responded, in a rather loud voice, her version of the word “sheets” which came out “s***s”. This caused a stir at the chic establishment, causing both security and the store manager to intervene. The rest is history, as not only apologies ensued, but two sets of more expensive sheets, a store credit for the ones returned and lunch at their famous Charleston Garden Restaurant. My grandmother had her heart set on dining on the second-floor terrace. How the hostess patiently explained to her that it was really just trompe l’ oeil is another story in itself.

Life isn’t always an episode of “I Love Lucy”, but hiding in between all the seriousness, might just be some wonderful memories that will tickle you every time you let them. Hopefully inheriting some of that lighthearted spirit, my funny bone and I have made a pact to continue to remember not to forget.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Aging: Don’t Let Those Digits Deter You         

Photo Age

Does anyone really care how old the Energizer Bunny or the Pillsbury Doughboy are? No, we just love them for who they are. We don’t worry what that pink rabbit is hiding behind his signature sunglasses. Our little Doughboy with the infectious giggle is never fodder for the tabloids because of a tummy tuck. They just go on their merry way, living life to the fullest. If only we could live in their world.

Is age just a number; a numerical symbol denoting the time that we have lived? Or, is age a number; traumatizing us to the point of emotional shock? How we answer that question can impact our outlook on life.

The Harvard Gazette recently reported the results of a study that researched memory loss as part of the aging process. When mentally sharp older adults were examined, it was found that the key areas of their brain resembled those of young people. These seniors became known as “super-agers’ and all seemed to share the same personality traits:

  • Curiosity to keep learning challenging new skills
  • Perseverance to work hard at something, whether physical or mental
  • Discipline to exercise daily
  • Determination to push through discomfort

My more mature friends all agree that they feel the same as they did when they were younger, just a bit smarter. This energetic group all share the blessing of good health and the way they live their lives inspires me. After retiring as a girl’s gym coach, my friend chose volleyball as her new sport. Now, she travels to tournaments all over the U.S. and her team has even won a gold medal at the Senior Olympics. My nun pal is a force to reckon with, both in business and in life. Small in stature and strong-minded, she does not take no for an answer. I was privileged to attend my other nun chum’s 90th birthday party. She’s full of energy, always out and about and still has that same twinkle in her eye that endeared me to her the first time I met her years ago.

Since joining the local chapter of the American Pilgrims on the Camino, I have felt an instant kinship to this adventurous and robust group. But, then anyone who has walked (or is planning to walk) the 500-mile route through Spain, known as the Camino de Santiago would probably not be lacking in the self-motivation category. Age has no bearing here, as the older, more experienced hikers and backpackers are revered and willingly share their secrets for success. Each time we get together, I am motivated by their life stories, their strength and their passion.

Then, there is JC*. I have trouble keeping up with her. She is always busy exploring our city, thanks in part to her bus driver friends who spur her on. She’s just put the finishing touches on two trips she’s planning with friends. Her enthusiasm for the little details of life encourages me to make sure that I don’t pass them by either.

But, don’t mistake her good nature for naivety. Once at a senior citizen meet and greet, JC overheard a man asking a woman how old her children were. She quickly surmised that this was a clever way for him to find out her age. With a laugh and a shrewd plan, she changed the photos of her children that she carried in her wallet to those from years prior. No sense in tipping the gene pool apple cart at this point.

So, let’s just consider age a number and not let it numb us into thinking that we are in some way less than we used to be or plan to be. If we add our life experiences to our future aspirations and subtract any negativity, we’ll outsmart the statistics and live a happy and fulfilled life.

 

 

 

*Who’s who? See “Cast of Characters” on the “About” page.

 

 

Putting a Cherry on Top Every Day and Not Just on Sundaes

Photo Cherry on Top

I shared in her joy as the little girl’s smile widened when she saw the cherry top her sundae and recalled how many times that red little ball of sweetness had balanced atop a treat that sometimes seemed enough in itself. The maraschino cherry has a lot to live up to. As the star of the show, it must remember to maintain its equilibrium at all times. You can’t very well be the crowning glory if you are face down in hot fudge sauce.

We should take inspiration from that diminutive, hard-working fruit and consider making a daily promise to ourselves to crown each day with a little something special. Just like the icing on a cake, it’s a simple process that makes everything just a bit better.

Sure, Ms. Maraschino could have rested on her laurels, content with her position in life. Instead, she made an effort to make a name for herself swimming in cocktails, garnishing hams, becoming an integral part of pineapple upside down cake and even worming her way into cans of fruit cocktail. And when her agent negotiated a deal with Coca Cola to share her juice in exchange for top billing, she enjoyed the sweet smell of success as a Cherry Coke.

So, let’s make each day really count by sprinkling it with something extra.  Do what comes naturally or use some of these ideas to inspire you:
– Smile at a stranger.
– Look your best each time you walk out the door (tell yourself your high school
graduation class is waiting outside).
– Push yourself to exercise just a little bit more.
– Take a minute to think of what you are grateful for.
– Let someone know you are thinking about them.
– Work towards finishing a project that you have started.
– Think of something that tickles your funny bone and laugh.
– Stop what you are doing, take a deep breath and focus on what’s around you.

Things are not always peachy and there may be a rocky road ahead, which is all the more reason to not lose out on the chance to scoop up today and make it the best it can be.