Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The virtues of charity

A weird moment of synchronism happened to me yesterday. Last month, I had to cancel my sponsorships with the two children I was sponsoring. One of them sent me a letter that I received in my mailbox. Selma, the girl I was sponsoring in Brazil, told me that she was planning on leaving the project. Reason being, she got married and was no longer living with her family. My eyes welled up after learning this. I started sponsoring Selma when she was 11 years old. She is now 16. Apparently, I failed to realize that it's customary for people in Brazil to get married at younger ages. Either way, I was satisfied by this accomplishment. What satisfied me more was that I played a major role in this girl's life and that she expressed a tremendous amount of gratitude in her letter to me. Before, her village had no electricity and now she has a much better quality of life. I actually felt pretty horribly at first because I had canceled the sponsorship, but it was serendipitous that she was planning on leaving anyway. Chances are, even if she had not gotten married, I would have still received the same amount of gratitude.

I have another sponsored child from India named Narendra. I have yet to receive a letter confirming that he received my last letter. However, I have faith he will understand as well. After all, when I was more affluent, I had contributed a substantial amount of money for his birthday. It translated to such a large amount in rupees, that a majority of it was placed in a bank account for his future studies. I have faith that he will weather the storms of poverty very effectively.

There is a lot to be said about charity. It's my firm belief that when you give of yourself, more likely than not, you will get something back in return. It may not come immediately, but when you least expect it, you will be handsomely rewarded. Of course, since physical amenities rule a lot of our daily activities, a check from the Publisher's Clearing House would be nice. However, the best currency that could be offered from anybody is their love.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Power Of An Embrace

I've seen this video a while ago, but just tonight it inspired me to write a blog. I have seen many videos on YouTube featuring the "Free Hugs" campaign. I am proud to say that I fully endorse it. People sometimes neglect the power a hug can hold (pun intended.) Having worked in mental health for 4 1/2 years, I have come to see how important it is to experience the human touch. Some mental health "professionals" tend to view an embrace as a boundary issue. Personally, I have never seen it that way. In many cases, the people I have visited on the inpatient units of South Beach Psychiatric Center have nobody to hug them. I, for one, welcome the love. Some of the warmest hugs I have received have been from my former clientèle, and I know exactly why that is. Truth be told, a lot of people who are inpatients in state psychiatric facilities don't experience the compassion that people in their positions deserve. They are treated like absolute dirt. Therefore, since I initiated the kindness, they wanted to reciprocate in the best way they knew how. That's where the hug came into effect. To this day, I do not shy away from an opportunity to embrace a person in need of an embrace.

In another video I saw on YouTube, a cartoon man who looked like Kevin Smith traveled all over the world with his dog and started hugging people with anger and bitterness in their hearts. They would later surrender to the power of the hug and abandon whatever malice they had initially felt in their hearts. This was an interesting solution to world peace and a little far-fetched that we can end wars by hugging people. In a sense, I do believe it though. Some symbols of affection are not always universal. While this is unfortunate in some other countries, we can be thankful that the trend of hugging to show affection is a melting pot tradition here in the USA. Naturally, animals deserve affection as well. In the end of that video, the Kevin Smith lookalike shares a loving embrace with the dog. Call me a sap, but in the wake of all these animal abuse commercials by the ASPCA, that got me.

Perhaps the best illustration of the power of the embrace comes from comedian, Judah Friedlander. You may not recognize the name, but he starred in a Dave Matthews Band music video for the song, "Everyday." The purpose of his day: hug as many people as possible to make their lives that much better for the day. This was the predecessor to "Free Hugs."

As a spiritually minded person, I embrace this trend (again, pun intended.) The more love we give one another, the better we can make each other's lives. Suffice it to say, any man or woman who could use a hug can always come to me for support. Mine are tight enough to show I care, but not too tight that I will suffocate you. No doubt, the perfect balance.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Ace In The Hole

This is a poem I wrote containing an affirmation we can all use in life. I am happy to be sharing it with you, because sometimes I need to reaffirm myself of this message when things become hectic in my life.


Beyond reason, I live life, I am negating cynicism everywhere

Every crafted stanza touches a submerged youngster

Surely utopia can create extended surreality sometimes

I live life unconditionally, may I never aspire to inspire overt negativity

Clusters reach your stillness, the axes lie

Carefully utilizing protection

We only reconsider lies declared

We are never doomed

Altruistically initiating revolution

We aim to exert remediation

Each action reinforces the heart

Freely inquiring, reading, exploring

My instincts never deceive

Hear every affirmation reasonably transcribed

Beautify order, decorate yourself

Serene principles incubate resolve, I transcend

Beyond reason, I live life, I am negating cynicism everywhere

Every crafted stanza touches a submerged youngster

Surely utopia can create extended surreality sometimes

I live life unconditionally, may I never aspire to inspire overt negativity

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Things you can learn from the departed

Since I lost one of my best friends to three months ago, I have learned a thing or two about the current relationships I have with people. Personally, I sometimes grapple with holding grudges. It's not worth it. You will never know how important it is to let the petty shit go when somebody close to you dies. If you focus on how a person has hurt you in the past, and it is over something that in the grand scheme of things only matters in your own world, your life is not that bad. After all, in most cases, pain is not inflicted intentionally. I had some unresolved feelings that I had grappled with before I visited Frank's grave yesterday. I said my piece and got mostly everything I wanted to say out of me. I did not lose my composure; nor did I want to. I have also done my best to not live life with regrets. I have learned to just walk away from my guilt. This in turn has made me feel less misanthropic in the past.

For meditations, I recommend a book by Yehuda Berg called The 72 Names of God. One of the meditations in that book deals with alleviating the evil eye we may give people who have wronged us. In times like that, we need to release these people from our lives and stop holding grudges. On a related note, there is a ritual you can perform if somebody in your life has malice aforethought against you. Write the name of the person who possesses an unhealthy power over you three times on a piece of paper. I recommend the full name. Also, once you have the name written in triplicate, tear up the paper into small pieces and throw them either directly in the freezer or in a small bag you can keep in the freezer. This freezes the harm that this person can do to you. However, only perform this ritual if somebody has cruel intentions against you. Arguments over boyfriends and girlfriends won't cut it.

The last important thing to remember is to treasure the memories you had with this person. Whether you had a consistently good rapport, a rocky rapport, or a broken rapport that is beyond repair, do not take the memories you shared with the person for granted. You just never know when you will lose somebody and you never know how you will be affected when they die. Just remember: don't hold on to painful memories. Find some way to release harmful forces from your life. Your soul will reward you in the end with God working through you and others so that you can foster some healthier connections.

Frank and I have had some strains in our friendship in the past, but I regret nothing now. When I think about it, I could have very well been as powerless over helping him as he was powerless over his alcoholism. I cannot blame myself for not being more attentive to getting him to quit drinking. Truth be told, he gave up. I have accepted the fact that I can't give up this fight to stay healthy and alive. I have too much to live for.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Tarot primer (part two)

The Major Arcana is comprised of 22 cards. These are cards that represent archetypes in our lives. These are derived from Kabbalah, which is traditionally Jewish mysticism. The number 22 represents the paths/branches of the Tree of Life, which is denoted by the 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet. Rather than explain what every card means in depth (this is a primer after all), I will submit to you a poem I wrote that represents all 22 cards in the Major Arcana.


I am the fool,

for I am leaping into a new journey.

I am the magician,

for I work with all I possess.

I am the high priestess,

for I am guided by my third eye.

I am the empress,

for I seek love.

I am the emperor,

for I seek self-empowerment.

I am the hierophant,

for I have been to hell and back.

I am the lovers,

for I have learned to love many aspects of myself.

I am the chariot,

for I always push ahead.

I am justice,

for I am one that can be served fairly.

I am the hermit,

for I need to be alone with my thoughts sometimes.

I am the wheel of fortune,

for I revolve in my personal luck daily.

I am strength,

for I have exhibited fortitude in diverse ways.

I am the hanged man,

for I need to sacrifice that which will not serve me.

I am death,

for I need to transition between phases of life.

I am temperance,

for I sometimes moderate with the times.

I am the devil,

for I laugh and indulge.

I am the tower,

for I have been leveled and rebuilt.

I am the star,

for I deserve to shine,

I am the moon,

for I cycle through phases as I am predisposed to do.

I am the sun,

for I aim to exude happiness.

I am judgment,

for I think carefully.

I am the world,

for I have many possibilities.

Tarot primer (part one)

Four is a magic number. There are four elements of nature, four parts of our being, and of course, four suits in the tarot. This is how they all fit into one another.

Wands are spiritual cards represented by fire.
Pentacles are physical cards represented by earth.
Cups are emotional cards represented by water.
Swords are mental cards represented by air.

There are also four elements of a Tarot card reading, including the person reading the cards, the person having their cards read, the cards themselves, and the universe that dictates which cards appear.

This deals with a section of the Tarot known as the Minor Arcana, which are set up a lot like a deck of playing cards. Think of Ace to Ten, and then the face cards, or in this case, the court cards. These are represented by a page, a knight, a queen, and a king.

Of course, since there are many different decks, many of the cards might be different. Court cards may have different names and the suits may be different. I use the Voyager Deck, which in many ways is vastly different from the standard Rider-Waite deck.

In the next blog, I will write about the Major Arcana.