Guise/Disguise

As far as I could see, many people created an image of themselves that usually proved to be better than they actually were. They tried to live up to it, needing to convince others that their façade was the real thing.  Forty years ago, when a distant relative, Julian, had an amicable divorce, his kind…

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Walmart Women

The other day I stood in a Las Vegas Walmart Customer Service line to return the wrong size of batteries. As I waited, I overheard a remarkable conversation, one that filled me with wonder and, later, gratitude. A clerk behind the counter, a beautiful mixed race woman, declared, “My feet ache. You have no idea…

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Pandemic Adaptions

During the pandemic, I’ve noticed most people have a default response to our new dilemma. When something startles my friend, Sue, she lashes out in anger. Luckily, she’s usually mellow and is rarely caught off-guard. The late psychiatrist Elisabeth Kubler-Ross taught us that people react to the prospect of death in five typical ways: denial,…

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Light and Free

As a child I felt light and free, as though weightless. I bounded and bounced wherever I wished, up trees, across streams, under water. At the time, I didn’t realize how unique and temporary this physical elation would be. Although I’ve maintained a normal weight throughout my life, I remember when, in junior high school,…

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Bodhichitta

Now in my seventies, I notice friends and family members in the same age range making far reaching decisions that may shorten their lives. When I’m flummoxed and plunged into distress by the actions of people I love, often not open to outside help, what resources can I turn to? I’m fortunate to have Buddhist…

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Red Bed

Last month, I dyed everything on my bed red. This desire came over me in a rush. All at once, I dumped bright dye in the washing machine, followed by sheets, pillowcases, a bedspread, shirts, nightgowns, pajamas and underwear. My eyes danced with the visual feast that emerged. Every night I wallowed in varieties of…

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A Good Boy

A few days ago, I squatted next to my four-year old neighbor from down the street, Toby, as he sat in his mom’s jogging stroller on the sidewalk. I asked a typical adult question, “Do you think Santa’s coming this year?” Solemn, he silently nodded. I only saw him every few months and we didn’t…

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Full Exposure to Gratitude

By Kaethe Kauffman. Re-printed with permission. Every ten days or so, I spoke to my spiritual counselor and she often advised me to deepen my gratitude. In our land of plenty and at a time of personal financial comfort, I tried feeling sincerely grateful for food and shelter, things I normally took for granted. Slowly, in…

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Once a Week I Buy a Cucumber

Once a week, I buy a cucumber. I hadn’t realized this fact until the pandemic, when I began to order food from a grocery store for delivery to my home. This forced me, for the first time, to draw up a list of food I required: one cucumber, four potatoes, one head of romaine lettuce…

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Keeping Ancestors Alive

By Kaethe Kauffman. Re-printed with permission. In October, our thoughts turn to those spirits who may still roam among us. Other cultures didn’t try to keep these phantasms away, but encouraged them to stay with us, believing them to be ancestors who could help us from the beyond. The Standing Gong from North Ambrym Island…

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