Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Street Musician

When I left work yesterday, there was a man playing saxophone on the corner by the library! It made me smile. Later, I wished I had taken his picture and tossed a dollar in his hat. Hopefully he'll be back.


I am trying to incorporate more movement into my life every day. A friend reminded me that a wise being once said "Do, or do not. There is no 'try.'" I am taking that advice to heart and it really has helped me.

It's only day 3 but I have been doing pretty well, I think. The weather has been nice and sunny and that helps. I've been going out to the boulevard and walking during my lunch hour or after work. I love love love this time of year. I love watching for signs of spring. I have tiny crocuses blooming in my yard now so I know it's not far away. It really helps me WANT to walk. And the iPod helps a lot too. Today Dave walked with me for part of the time.

I have other "movement" options available to me. I'm hoping to get our free YMCA membership back so we can swim and/or work out. Now that we ride together, I think we would be more likely to do it. And my office has a work out room in the basement complete with treadmill, elliptical thingie, weights, etc. I have worked here for 10 months and haven't used it.

I have tried different exercise routines in the past and I can't seem to stick with anything long term. But I'm like that in all areas of my life. Instead of beating myself up about it, however, I am now trying to accept and work with it.

Quote of the Week

"If we keep doing what we're doing, we're going to keep getting what we're getting."

- Stephen Covey

Monday, February 19, 2007

Great Lent (Eastern Orthodox)

Today is the beginning of Great Lent in the Eastern Orthodox Christian church. One of my friends just converted to Eastern Orthodox when she got married, and she is observing it this year along with the food restrictions.

Great Lent always begins on a Monday which is referred to as "Clean Monday", 7 weeks before Pascha, or Easter, in the Orthodox church. Great Lent is so named to differentiate it from the Advent fasting period which is known as Little Lent.

Great Lent is a period of self-denial and is observed with strict abstinence from meat, dairy products, wine, and olive oil. Orthodox Christians also make a sacrifice during this period such as giving up a favorite food or other pleasure.

Lent is the period of time for self-examination, prayer and almsgiving, repentance and atonement.

Sources/More Info:

Sunday, February 18, 2007


Today is "Losar", the Tibetan new year ('LO'=year; 'SAR'=new). It is also the Chinese New Year, but I am only going to discuss the Tibetan new year.

Losar is the most important holiday in Tibet. It is celebrated in February; the exact date varies each year according to the lunar calendar. It is primarily a 3-day festival with the first day generally reserved for family,and the second and third for friends and more distant relatives. Tibetans also visit monasteries and make offerings at this time.

Losar is marked with activities that symbolize purification, and welcoming in the new. The last day of the year is a time to clean and prepare for the approaching New Year. During 'Gutor' everyone whitewashes and cleans their houses to prepare for the new year. A small amount of dirt is collected, which will later be thrown onto a place where spirits are thought to dwell. Homeowners race through their houses shooting off guns or firecrackers to drive out evil. On the first day of the New Year, when Losar begins, everyone gets up early to wash themselves in the nearest spring.

Monastaries begin their celebrations the day before Tibetan New Year's Eve by conducting a protector deities' ritual ('puja'). On the last day of the old year, decorations are put up and elaborate offerings made called "Lama Losar".

In the early dawn of the new year, the monks of Namgyal Monastery offer a sacrificial cake (Tsetor) on top of the main temple (Potala in Tibet) to the supreme hierarchy of Dharma protectors, the glorious goddess Palden Lhamo. Led by the Dalai Lama, the abbots of 3 great monasteries, lamas, reincarnated monks, government officials and dignitaries join the ceremony and offer their contemplative prayers, while the monks of Namgyal Monastery recite the invocation of Palden Lhamo. When this ceremony is over, everyone assemble sin the hall called Excellence of Samsara and Nirvana for a formal greeting ceremony, where the traditional greeting "Tashi delek" is exchanged.

To wish the His Holiness the Dalai Lama good luck for the coming year, consecrated long-life pills (tse-ril) made out of roasted barley dough are offered to him by the representatives of the 3 great monasteries, the 2 Tantric Colleges, etc. Then entertainers (garma) perform a dance of good wishes. And 2 senior monks stage a debate on Buddhist philosophy, and conclude their it with an auspicious recitation in which the whole spectrum of Buddhist teaching is briefly reviewed and a request is made to His Holiness and to all holders of the doctrine to remain for a long time amongst beings in samsara in order to serve them through their enlightened activities. The official ceremony concludes with a ceremonial farewell to the His Holiness, who then retires to his palace.

The second day of Losar is known as King's Losar (gyal-po lo-sar) because officially the day is reserved for a secular gathering in the hall of Excellence of Samsara and Nirvana. His Holiness and his government exchange greetings with both monastic and lay dignitaries and other foreign visitors.

Sources/More Info:

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Big & Rich's new single is out!

Click on the banner to hear it on their MySpace

Friday, February 16, 2007

Happy Maha Shivaratri

I love learning about these holidays! This is a particularly interesting one.

According to my calendar, today is the Hindu holiday Maha Shivaratri.

Maha Shivratri (which means “the night of Shiva”) falls on the 14th night of the new moon during the dark half of the month of Phalguna. This festival, which is observed for one day and one night, is held in honor of Lord Shiva on the day he is said to have performed the dance of primordial creation, preservation and destruction (“Tandava Nritya”).

Lord Shiva (meaning “auspicious”), the Destroyer and Re-Producer of life is one of the Hindu Trinity (the other two are Lord Brahma, the creator, and Lord Vishnu, the preserver). Shiva is the most powerful god of the Hindu pantheon. He is known by many names and is the most sought-after deity amongst the Hindus, who believe he has a magnanimous heart and grants all their wishes.

In temples, Shiva is usually found as a phallic symbol of the linga, which represents the energies necessary for life on both levels. The image of Shiva is distinct: his hair is piled high on the top of his head with a crescent tucked into it and the river Ganges tumbling from his hairs. A coiled serpent is around his neck representing Kundalini, the spiritual energy within life. He holds a trident in his left hand in which is bound the 'damroo' (small leather drum). He sits on a tiger skin and on his right is a water pot. He wears the 'Rudraksha' beads and his whole body is smeared with ash. [Most images I found of him also show him with four arms - see Google image search for Shiva].

Shivratri is considered especially auspicious for women. Married women pray for the well being of their husbands and sons, while unmarried women pray for an ideal husband like Shiva, who is the spouse of Kali, Parvati and Durga. Generally it is believed that anyone who utters the name of Shiva during Shivratri with pure devotion is freed from all sins. He or she reaches the abode of Shiva and is liberated from the cycle of birth and death.

The phallus symbol representing Shiva is called the lingam. It is usually made of granite, soapstone, quartz, marble or metal, and has a yoni or vagina as its base representing the union of the male and female sexual organs. Devotees worship the lingam throughout the night. It is bathed every three hours with the five sacred offerings of a cow (the “panchagavya” - milk, sour milk, urine, butter and dung). Then the five foods of immortality (milk, clarified butter, curd, honey and sugar) are placed before the lingam.

Some devotees, especially the men, prepare an intoxicating drink called Thandai (made from cannabis, almonds, and milk), sing songs in praise of the Lord Shiva and dance to the rhythm of the drums. All day devotees keep a severe fast, chant the sacred Panchakshara mantra "Om Namah Shivaya" and make offerings of flowers and incense to the Lord Shiva.


Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Happy Valentine's Day!

"Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength while loving someone deeply gives you courage."

- Lao Tzu

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Happy Nirvana Day

One of my new calendars has a lot of holidays from different religions on it. I am going to make an effort to learn about the holidays I'm not familiar with.

Today is Parinirvana Day, or Nirvana Day, a Buddhist holiday commemmrating the death of Shakyamuni Buddha at age 80 in the year 483 BCE. It is not a sad day, but a celebration because the Buddha achieved Parinirvana, or complete Nirvana, upon the death of his physical body, achieving freedom from physical existence and its sufferings.

On Nirvana Day, passages from the Paranibbana Sutta, which describes the Buddha's last days, are often read. Buddhists contemplate their lives and how they can achieve Nirvana. They meditate or go to temples or monastaries. It is a day to reflect on one's own future death and the recent deaths of friends or relations.

The Buddha described Nirvana as the ultimate goal. The Buddha reached Nirvana during his enlightenment. When he died 45 years later, he then passed through pari nirvana, meaning completed nirvana.

Nirvana literally means extinguishing or unbinding and refers to the freedom from things which bind us such as jealousy, ignorance, fear, etc. Once these are totally overcome, a state of bliss is achieved, and the cycle of death and rebirth is no longer necessary. All karmic debts are settled, and all want and suffering is gone. Nirvana is attained by meditating and following the guiding principles of Buddhism, in particular the Four Noble Truths which Buddha experienced while meditating under the Bodhi tree:

  • Life is suffering
  • Suffering is due to having desires
  • Suffering can be ended when overcoming desires
  • The way to end suffering is through the Eightfold Path

    The Eightfold Path is:
  • Right view
  • Right thought
  • Right speech
  • Right action
  • Right livelihood
  • Right effort
  • Right mindfulness
  • Right contemplation

    For more information, see my sources:

  • Wednesday, February 07, 2007

    Rest in Peace, Jim Bob (1982-2007)

    "For what is it to die but to stand naked in the wind and to melt into the sun?

    And what is to cease breathing, but to free the breath from its restless tides, that it may rise and expand and seek God unencumbered?

    Only when you drink from the river of silence shall you indeed sing.

    And when you have reached the mountain top, then you shall begin to climb.

    And when the earth shall claim your limbs, then shall you truly dance."

    -- Kahlil Gibran

    Keith Urban is a Jerk

    What an asshole!! I'm glad I haven't bought any of his music. I sure won't be buying any in the future.

    "LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Country singer Keith Urban has filed a lawsuit against a painter of the same name, claiming that the lesser known Keith Urban's Web site infringes trademark and cyber-squatting laws.

    Singer Urban filed the suit in U.S. District Court in Nashville, Tennessee, on Friday against the New Jersey painter who uses the Web site address to advertise oil paintings for sale.

    The entertainer, who married Nicole Kidman last year and who recently ended a stint in rehab for alcohol abuse, says in the lawsuit that the Web site is being used "in a manner likely to deceive the public into believing that the website has a connection to Plaintiff that does not exist."

    Urban's own Web site address is

    The singer, 39, wants the other Web site to be shut down and its domain name transferred to his ownership. He also seeks unspecified monetary damages.

    The New Jersey painter could not be reached for comment."

    Singer Keith Urban sues Keith Urban over Web site

    Thursday, February 01, 2007

    Feel Good February

    Happy February!

    From my Louise Hay affirmation calendar:

    "Let’s make [February] a 'feel-good' month. Every morning declare out loud, 'I choose to think thoughts that make me feel good today.' As you go to sleep at night, say, 'Thank you, Life, for a delicious day and a peaceful night's sleep.'"