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I went

I went to Miami’s Women’s Rally because now I know I’m not alone. I went because now I’m not afraid. I went because now I know there are others like me. And went because I won’t be silenced, and I will not rest until we ensure that we are all free, protected, and safe.

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I went.

Or rather, we went.

Women went. Men went. Gays and lesbians went. Muslims went. Latinos went. African-Americans went. Hindus went. So many people went. Pink T-shirts everywhere. Pussy hats all around. People everywhere. Parents. Children. Mothers. Fathers. Sisters. Friends. We went and we showed up because this matters. This is important.

We who care about women’s right, civil rights, LGBTQ rights, climate change, protecting the environment went.

It was inspiriting and moving to the see so many people went too.

We went because we are the majority: the loud majority. We are not, and will not be silent. We went so we could tell and shared our stories.

Maybe ours wasn’t the biggest rally or march in the country. Maybe ours wasn’t the loudest — which is rare for Hispanics — but we went nonetheless. We showed up. We joined the hundreds of thousands around the country, around the world who went and raised their voices and their fists.

And here’s the thing: no one fought. No one argued. No one got hurt or said a hateful word. We went because we wanted to show, to prove, that we care, that we love, and that we can get along. All of us.

I went to prove that human decency, tolerance, and equality can be a reality and coexist. We went because we were there for friends and people we know who are afraid. We went because all lives matters. I went because this matters. I went because I wanted to be in the thick of it, with the rest of them, surrounded by others — many — who believe.

I went to Miami’s Women’s Rally because now I know I’m not alone. I went because now I’m not afraid. I went because now I know there are others like me. And I went because I won’t be silenced, and I will not rest until we ensure that we are all free, protected, and safe.

I went because I love my country.

Click on any photo to see them in a slideshow.

Power animals

INTERIOR: A Wilton Manors gay bar. SCENE: Victor and Walter stand in a corner admiring the crowd.

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INTERIOR: A Wilton Manors gay bar.

SCENE: VICTOR and WALTER stand in a corner admiring the crowd. WALTER holds a beer he’s been nursing for two hours. VICTOR winces every time he sips from a glass of red wine. They both look confused and perplexed.

VICTOR
Okay, then. Explain this to me. If he’s a bear. And that one’s an otter. The one over there you say pretends he’s a puppy. And the beautiful man over there is a wolf. Then what the hell are you? And what the fuck am I?

WALTER
I’m a platypus.

VICTOR
A platypus? Why the fuck would you choose a platypus?

WALTER
Because I’m a otter who didn’t give a fuck, screwed a duck and a beaver, got the best parts of each, and I don’t care what others think about the way I look.

VICTOR
Fair enough. So that make me a what, then?

WALTER
You? You are Ferdinand the Bull! You look tough and burly on the outside.
But inside, you are noble and kind, and I couldn’t have a better friend.

VICTOR’S lip quivers for a moment. They hug and hold each other for a moment. A young otter walks over to where they stand.

OTTER
Hey, guys. You’re so cute together. You make such a nice couple.
Are you looking to hook, or are you up for a threesome?

WALTER (releasing VICTOR)
You can have this one. I’m going to the bathroom. I’ll wait for you outside.
Be nice to him. He doesn’t know about Ferdinand’s dark side.

WALTER moves away, as VICTOR’s tirade begins.

FADE TO BLACK

Leaf and be happy

Who’s to say what ifrit or shadow had decided to bewitch or lead me down a dark path. Nature’s sylphs had seen fit to break the spell and reroute me on a more pleasant path.

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Leaf and be happy.

Normally, when something is bothering me, it shows in my face first. Most people get or feel tense. Others fidget and get antsy, needing to move or fret to diffuse nervous tension. Others reach for a pint of ice cream or chatter nervously to the person closest to them. My anxiety concentrates on my face, tightening my lips, frowning my brow, curling the corner of my nose upward in a gesture many confuse for disgust, but which when adequately translated means: “Give me a moment. I need some space to figure this out.”

It must have been some moment, or I may have needed more elbow room than I’m normally allowed, because nature saw it fit to intervene and interrupt whatever settled on my mind to make me look as if I needed more than a block’s worth of space.

Out of nowhere, this guy dropped from a nearby tree, landing right across my path, breaking the troubling reverie that had taken over. I couldn’t help but pause and take a second look to be sure I had seen correctly. There, between the cracks: a smile.

“No, you fool!” my brain cried exasperated. “It’s a leaf! Leaves don’t smile. You’re having a moment of paraidolia. That inexplicable human need to find and see patterns in inert objects. It’s the same thing that happens every time you look at a potato and think you can eat it because it was smiling at you. Or when you meditate and start seeing faces all over the wood floor. Snap out of it!”

And snap out of it I did. I grabbed my phone, snapped a photo of the leaf, and continued on my way.

I wasn’t frowning any longer. The corners of my nose dropped back in place. I added a lighter step to my walk, and I found myself humming the theme song of a certain 1960’s sitcom that worms itself into my brain whenever I feel silly.

Who’s to say what ifrit or shadow had decided to bewitch or lead me down a dark path. Nature’s sylphs had seen fit to break the spell and reroute me on a more pleasant journey.

The Practice of Contemplative Photography.

Portrait mode

The analog life is still very much alive — and thriving.

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Orchids. Miami, FL

And then you look up and realize that beauty is all around you.

Boys will be boys. Geeks will be geeks. And this boy is all about the geek when it comes to digital gadgets.

Last year, when Apple announced its new iteration of its handheld device, I flipped at the chance to upgrade to a new gadget, replacing my two year old iPhone 6. The new iPhone 7 Plus was a significant upgrade from my previous phone. Once it arrived, I spent a few days tinkering and toying with all the doodads, features, and screen interactions I was not used to having.

A few weeks later, Apple released a tweak to iOS for iPhone 7 Plus users: a depth of field setting called Portrait that allows one to take a photo while automatically blurring the background to create a portrait effect. It’s a neat feature to have and use, especially when it’s done simply and elegantly. There is no need to import a photo to a different app, or send it to Photoshop or Pixelmator to make the adjustments. iOS’s camera software looks at what’s on the screen and says, “Here, let me do this for you.”

I’m happy with this photo I took in my mother’s garden of the orchids that keep blooming and thriving in spite of her neglect. The orchids grow on what used to be a tree that succumbed to my father’s abusive gardening techniques.

I am glad for the opportunity to look up from my iPhone to appreciate beauty in nature. To me, the orchids are a constant reminder that not everything worth looking for is found on a digital Wall, feed, or by sifting through a Google search.

The analog life is still very much alive — and thriving.

Let’s talk. Again.

What I would like, instead, is to create a nook, a space, where one, two, or a few people gather with a cup of pipping hot tea or freshly brewed coffee and sit to exchange thoughts, ideas, and stories about what is important to them and what they found to be amazing about their day.

Over in Bloom County, Opus and friends continue to enjoy a renaissance of sorts, poking fun and making sense of the terrible year that was 2016, and began lampooning whatever 2017 will decide to be.

I have been following the Bloom County crew since their re-launch, and have giggled, guffawed, spit-out my coffee, and cried over their episodes ever since. The cartoon strip harks back to the 80s, a time not unlike our own when the world didn’t quite make sense, and where daily headlines could best be explained by characters acting out in the funnies the inexplicable situations the news reported every evening.

For my part, I decided to take a long break from journaling, blogging, and posting to Inquietudes in order to focus on matters of importance that required a focused and diligent effort on my part to complete.

2016 was a difficult year I was happy to see come to an end. There were dragons to battle and slay. There were long stretches of boredom and solitude where nothing, I mean nothing, happened. There yet remain dragons that survive and are in need of taming or slaying. And then there was a brief moment of unexpected joy and promise that sadly did not last.

All the while, in the back of my mind, Inquietudes waited and remained a possibility to come back to. I missed the public part of writing: posting and receiving comments from kind, thoughtful readers who urged me on my scribblings. I didn’t miss the tedious moments of writing: of looking for the right turns of phrase to mean exactly what I wanted, sorting through daily events and deciding what to focus and write on, or searching for a surprising image that would not only illustrate what I was writing about but that would also make someone’s hair (or toes) curl, or incite panic in them should they be reading my posts at work.

I would like to create a nook, a space, where two, three, or a few folk gather with a cup of pipping hot tea or freshly brewed coffee and sit to exchange thoughts, ideas, and stories about what is important to them and what they found to be amazing about their day.

In any case, Inquietudes loomed in my mind, and as 2016 began to take a toll on lives that mattered and made a difference to me, I decided that it was time to come back and enjoy a sort of renaissance of my own. I wanted to return to blogging (again), but on my terms and my rules.

I do not want to post or write everyday, and I certainly don’t think that with all I have to do and work on this year, that I can manage to squeeze a sentence or two for the site every day. I do want to write and create something that is relevant to me because I feel the world needs something (though I’m not sure what that is exactly) that points to events that need clarification or be called on. I know I don’t want to remain silent or stand idly by hoping (against the odds) that things will improve and get better (when I feel they won’t; at least not for — the next four years? So, now you know where I stand).

So, taking note from the lovely, Ms. Diane Rehme, formerly of NPR’s The Diane Rehme Show, I decided to come back and start writing and posting again at least once a week. Ms Rehme’s daily show on NPR was a sane, tempered conversation that I will miss in an age where tempered and balance discourse is sorely, sorely needed. After her retirement, Diane promised to continue the conversation on her terms by publishing a weekly podcast I eagerly anticipate. Along the same lines, Mr. Breathed, creator of Bloom County, revived the comic strip that got me through my teen and college years on his terms, by publishing his stories on Facebook when he felt he had something to share with his readers. The last 350 published strips have been a joy to read and remain true to the spirit of the original cartoon with an updated sensibility to headlines and stories we are living in the new century.

I want for Inquietudes to be something similar to Diane’s upcoming podcast and Mr. Breathe’s work. I want to hark back to the days when blogging was exciting and new, intimate and immediate, personal and friendly. I don’t care for making headlines, stirring the pot, or posting 140 plus characters — or whatever the count is up to these days — that incite angry banter or denigrates one person or people for whatever misgivings they may be choosing to spread on any particular day.

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Rather, I would like to create a nook, a space, where two, three, or a few folk gather with a cup of pipping hot tea or freshly brewed coffee and sit to exchange thoughts, ideas, and stories about what is important to them and what they found to be amazing about their day [more on this later]. I want Inquietudes to be that place that feels comfortable and safe to hang out until the tea’s been consumed, or another pot of coffee is called for. And, yes, there will be red wine, Pinot, served as well with wry observations and commentary, served snark-free, thank you very much. I want Inquietudes to be like Bloom County‘s Boy Dancer troop!

So I’m dusting off the keyboard and taking the covers off the furniture. I’m flipping the sofa cushions and clearing off the table from clutter. I’m pulling up ottomans and fluffing cushions. I’m turning off the cell phone and turning on the ambient music. I’m lighting a few candles, opening up windows (it’s Florida, after all), and brewing a fresh pot of coffee and warming up water for tea. Sit on the sofa or pull up a chair.

Let’s talk. Again.

The anthophile’s dream

This year’s Tamiami International Orchid Festival did not disappoint.

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Without: a blustery, frigid (some would claim, “Too cold”), winter morning, the kind most do not pair with a South Florida clime.

Within: an explosion of color and graceful blooms horticulturalists link to tropical landscapes and forests.

This year’s Tamiami International Orchid Festival did not disappoint. Well attended, with vendors from as far as Hawaii showcasing their best and most enviable blooms, showcasing different varieties and species of vandas, cymbidiums, cattleyas, phalaenopsis, and oncidiums certain to please the most demanding of anthophiles. The show was a spectacle for eyes and a welcome distraction from studying.

The Practice of Contemplative Photography.

Click on any of the images for a slide show.

To Do or Todo

To Do lists keep me honest and on track, if only for the day, and serve as a map for me to follow that day.

Studying for the acupuncture board exams has become more of a full-time job than I originally anticipated. What began as a carefree (careless?) review of class notes, lecture slides, and study outlines has turned into a demanding array of exercises and data recollection where I not only spend hours going over said notes and slides, but also practice test taking skills on how to choose answers in board exams.

It turns out the exams not only test a student on academic knowledge, but also their test taking skills. The confusing case study questions are not accompanied with answers that are easy or clear to identify. Instead, the answers one has to choose from are a selection of confusing remedies where some treatment plans are less wrong than others. Acupuncture points one would normally choose for a course of treatment are noticeably absent and in their stead one has a group of points that, while effective, are not the ones normally chosen in clinic practice. These type of answers play a mind trick for folk like me who can rationalize any answer given, no matter how wrong it is. The bulk of my time is spent practicing and figuring out how to answer a board exam question, and not learning or memorizing material that will help me treat a patient.

A friend who is sitting for the herbal board called me last week in a state. She didn’t want to study. She was having an anxiety episode because every time she sat down and opened a book to go over herbs and formulas, her brain “shut-down.” She said she didn’t want to sit to go over herbal categories, modification, and herb pairings. “I’m sick of studying!” she cried. “What’s wrong with me?!”

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I tried talking her through her anxiety by sharing some of my own resistance to studying. “Do you think I wake up in the morning telling myself: I get to study today, whoopee! I get to spend five hours today going over crossing- and paired-points I’ll never get to use because, who many patience with dysentery and malaria will I get to see in practice? Woo-hoo!”

Maybe I should tell myself the opposite instead. Maybe my attitude will change and studying won’t feel like a chore. Or maybe, I should learn how to treat malaria since an Oriental medicine doctor won the Nobel Prize for medicine last year, and according to NPR, malaria continues to be a major health concern in certain parts of the world.
Right now, feeling excited about, or wanting to study is not how I feel. Instead, distractions constantly pull at me in different directions, none of which I’d normally consider. I’d rather go grocery shopping, do my neighbor’s laundry, mop floors in a greasy diner, or take up another master’s degree than sit and review for these exams. Pulling a gray pubic hair is less painful than figuring out an Oriental medicine organ pattern for diagnosis.

My friend asked what she could do in order to overcome her aversion to academic work. She wondered what I did in order to feel like I got anything accomplished with my days.

“That’s easy,” I said. “Scratch items off a list. Draw yourself a To Do or  Todo (Everything) list (Todo in Spanish means everything) and the more items you scratch, the better you’ll feel!”

To Do, or Todo lists have become an integral part of my day. They help me organize myself and give me a sense of completion and self-confidence every time I mark an item as completed. They have become a magical spell of sorts. Every time I get through one, I feel empowered, confident, strong—like I’m able to tackle the most convoluted of questions in an exam. On days where I get everything done, I treat myself to one of the items I placed on my Amazon wishlist. On days where I have to carry an item or two over to the next day, I practice patience and compassion towards myself and decide to give myself a break from all the (todos los) chores I had for myself that day.

To Do lists keep me honest and on track, if only for the day, and serve as a map for me to follow that day. I may not always follow the established directions, but they tend to get me closer to where I want to go. They’re a journal of todo/everything I have to do that’s more honest than anything I write or tell myself in my journals. If I were to account for last three months of my life, these lists would summarize my days and practices better than an Facebook or Instagram post. My To Do lists are, in a sense, lists of Todo I have to do and done to be rid of these exams.

Helios — at last

It’s been a glorious day: warm, bright, sunny, breezy—the kind folk in northern territories migrate south for the season. This is Florida at its best.

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Blue Sky and Palm Tree. Miami, 2016.

The topic of everyone’s conversation today: “Sun! Look at the sun and the bright blue sky.”

We awoke this morning to a gloomy fog, wondering where it came from or what djinn had conjured it from a mischievous spell. But by noon the sun had risen high and warm enough to dispel any remnants of clouds, humidity, or uncertainty. We stared in awe at the marvel of a South Florida winter sky.

It’s been a glorious day: warm, bright, sunny, breezy—the kind folk in northern territories migrate south for the season. This is Florida at its best.

For weeks previously, we remained indoors, wondering where the clouds and rain came from. A spell of gray gloomy days reminded me of what northern spring days are like. For weeks we did without sunny days or warm spells. So today it was a wonder that we all ventured out to stare at the sky to remind ourselves how endless and dizzying a blue sky can be.

Fingers were pointed upwards, faces turned to the sun, and some (myself included) could almost swear to have caught a glimpse of Helios, the Sun god, cheerfully steering his flame chariot across the sky.

The Practice of Contemplative Photography.

Orchids redux

One moment I’m enjoying a quiet morning at home drinking coffee, the next I’m on my way to Homestead in search of orchids.

It was—as usual—a last minute thing. One moment I’m enjoying a quiet morning at home drinking coffee, the next I’m on my way to Homestead in search of orchids. This has become a weekly ritual of sorts. When the day dawns sunny and we’re not buried under blankets of rain, Orchidium will text and ask me if I want to drive to Homestead to visit the nurseries in the area. Not needing an excuse to leave the house and enjoy his gay company, I agree as I throw a pair of pants on, pull on my boots, don the day’s fedora, and head out the door to meet him at a Starbucks along the way. On the drive down Krome Ave, we catch up on our lives and old-men gossip. We trash Facebook trends, compare Netflix queues, and ponder the future aging gay men face but fail to confront. As we visit each nursery, we carefully assess, compare, and select which blooms will grace our gardens or window sills until the next escapade. The drive takes up most of the morning, but driving with windows rolled down, hands gliding on the wind around farms and nurseries, it’s the best way to spend part of the day in the company of a good friend. On this escapade, I decided not to bring home any new plants to cheer my day, but I did bring a few snapshots to document the day. These are good enough to brighten my spirits until the next time Orchidium’s text chimes in for another day of orchid hunting.

Dia de reyes

January 6th remains a magical day for me and the offical close of the holiday season. Tomorrow the working years gets off to a start, and I once again look forward to discovering and making new magical memories.

Today is the feast of the Epiphany, or as we call it in Miami, el dia de los reyes magos — the feast of the three wise men.

This is the day Christians celebrate the revelation “of God the son as human in Christ.” In Western Christianity, the feast commemorates the visit of the Magi to the Christ child bearing gifts of frankincense, gold, and myrrh. According to the Gospel of Matthew, the three kings or wisemen came from the east to worship the “king of the jews.” The word magi, plural for magus, suggests the three men were astrologers, magicians, or Zoroastrianism practitioners. Some consider them to be sorcerers or travelers who journeyed West from as far as China; others hold them to venture from Persia and Africa. As part of their religion, these men paid particular attention to the stars and gained an international reputation for astrology, which was at that time highly regarded as a science. Their religious practices and use of astrology caused derivatives of the term magi to be applied to the occult in general and led to the English term magic, although Zoroastrianism was in fact strongly opposed to sorcery.

INSERT IMAGE NAMERegardless of their point of origin, or religious affiliation, the three magi or wise men celebration is as popular — and perhaps more so — as Christmas among hispanic cultures and countries. On the morning of January 6th, children wake up to more gifts, candy, and celebrations. In Spain, parades not unlike the Thanksgiving Day or Christmas Day parades are held around the country. Miami has its own parade, though it pales in comparison to anything I’ve seen in other countries. In Mexico, a rosca de reyes, or king’s cake is shared with family and friends. Eating la rosca, or cake, is supposed to bring one good luck throughout the year.

For me, the Epiphany has become a day of remembering things past. Gone are the days when toys, gifts, or presents were left for my sisters and I to open in the morning. Gone are also the days when my niece and nephews had their gifts to open, now that they are teenagers and not as nostalgic as their aunts and uncle are for their toddler days. What’s left of our celebration are my mother’s candy bags, filled with our favorite candies and some small knick-knack she finds at the dollar store that reminds her of our eccentricities. My bag usually contains peanut M&Ms and something relating to acupuncture. But the family dinners have been replaced with text messages, Facebook postings, and the occasional photo of Epiphanies of long ago.

Still, for all the memories and nostalgia, January 6th remains a magical day for me; the day after marks the official close of the holiday season. On Thursday the new year gets off to a working start, and I once again look forward to discovering and making new magical memories.

Onward

There is much study, writing, work, and learning for me to do in 2016. A quest only opens doors and suggests what one can do in order to get unstuck and continue to move forward again.

During the holidays, over in Bloom County, enfant terrible Steve Dallas was undergoing a holiday season self-pity crisis not unlike one I underwent a few months ago. It was comforting to trace my own emotional sinkhole with the cast and crew of my favorite, reincarnated comic strip from the 80’s and to find encouragement and camaraderie from Opus, penguin ingenue and moral compass — of sorts. The crisis prompted a break from writing and posting to my blogs as I sorted out my feelings and underwent a quest to find new directions and reasons to write again.

The weeks leading up to the holidays found me taking several road-trips around the state to nowhere in particular seeking guidance, inspiration, and a new direction for the new year. Along the way, I met a several interesting folk who pointed the way to others in similar or worse situations than I.

Those meetings led to evenings full of fireside chats, inspirational anecdotes, and rituals I never thought myself partaking in. I can’t say at this moment what will come out of any of those trips, conversations, and night sky gazing enquiries, but I do admit that I find myself feeling more optimistic, empowered, and confident in my abilities than I did when I drove off to the horizon for the first time back in November.

During my road trips I read books on Buddhist dharma and practiced meditation in lonely roadside motels and out in fields people rush past without paying attention. No one has mapped the territory of the mind—or the heart—better than Buddhist meditators, so I couldn’t have better guides helping me find footing where there was no ground. Pema Chödrön, the Shambhala Buddhist teacher, often writes and teaches about feeling comfortable with uncertainty, or walking the path of groundlessness. On many days I found myself free-falling in fear and uncertainty, but her kind, gentle, but precise advice was the kind of kick in the ass I needed to get me to meditate again, in earnest, and get myself from wallowing in self-pity.

The calming and soothing balm my heart needed came from the wisdom and joy of Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche who, miraculously to me, and just when I needed him most, returned home in December from a three year wandering retreat. I welcomed the news of his return with great joy, and while rereading his treatise for a life of Joyful Living his words became the antidote I needed to renew my meditation practice with focus and a renewed commitment to the dharma and the path of contemplation.

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There is much study, writing, work, and learning for me to do in 2016. A quest only opens doors and suggests what one can do in order to get unstuck and continue to move forward again. If anything, the questions I left home with led to more questions that I will have to answer at a later time. This is not a bad thing, per se, but a riddle I must learn to unravel on my own. Some answers to life’s big questions only deepen the mystery of living, and I believe that is part of the process of growing, maturing, and living. Had I all the answers to life’s questions I’d be bored and discontented. I like a good challenge and Life has given me several that have kept me busy and feeling engaged from the onset. My task now is to find the joy of living as Rinpoche suggests and get on with it.

INSERT IMAGE NAMELike Steve Dallas, I’m surrounded by a retinue of family and friends ready to offer kind and solid advice on how to proceed. This is wealth without measure because even during my darkest times I never felt alone. During my quest, I found new allies and techs to help me reach and find steadier, more solid ground. But unlike Steve, I’m a little more self-aware today than I was a few weeks ago and I’m aware of the skills and talents I own in order to move forward. It’s my hope I don’t regress to a state of self-absorption that would keep me in a state of comic repetitiveness that Steve suffers from. But that’s something the posts and pages of this blog will reveal as the new year marches on.

An orchid odyssey

We begin 2016 with a stroll around the Fairchild Tropical Botanic Gardens.

We begin 2016 with a stroll around the Fairchild Tropical Botanic Gardens, where my best friend and I went in search of orchids to love and admire. We were not disappointed. For in the Tropical Forest gardens, “An Orchid Odyssey” had quite a selection of blooming orchids on display for us to enjoy. Here is a sampling of some of the delights we found.

You may click on any of the images for a slide show.

Teyata

Buddhists believe that the name and image of the Medicine Buddha have healing properties.

Teyata

Teyata OM bekandze bekandze maha bekandze randza samugate soha

The Medicine Buddha (Sangye Menla in Tibetan, the Lord of Healing) represents the healing power of enlightened beings. He is known as the deity of medicine in Tibet and among Buddhists. The name of the medicine Buddha is believed to have the power to free a person from the diseases of anger and ignorance that can afflict the mind and impede liberation from suffering.

This protection and healing amulet is made up of prayers and mantras inscribed on paper that are then folded and tied together with colored strings. It is not made to be worn, but carried in a pocket or kept in a person’s home. When worn, the amulet is believed to have healing power, and aid the person carrying it in their person to be protected from harm, evil, illness, or any affliction that may hinder their health and meditation practice.

Buddhists believe that the name and image of the Medicine Buddha have healing properties as well, and that to see an image of Sangye Menla, or hear his name, can provide healing as well. Reciting the Medicine Buddha’s mantra, too, is a powerful way to invoke his blessings, and aid in a person’s—and the planet’s—healing.

Ki ki so so!

Ah, autumn…

Every time I see this photo, I’m reminded of one of the many reasons I fell in love with New England and Maine.

Fall in Maine

Fall in Maine

Here in Miami we only have three seasons: hot, hotter, and intolerably hot and humid. There’s no end to it, even when a breeze dispels, if only for a moment, the wet blanket of humidity that seeps into the body making even the coolest person sweat.

If you’re a seasonal and live in Florida only during the “cool” winter months, then you don’t have to contend with the oppressive and stifling heat summer unleashes upon us. Only at the beach, is summer a pleasant contemplation. There I enjoy swimming in the ocean for hours, floating on the surface as an ocean breeze cools my slow-roasted skin.

Round August, or ten days after Labor Day, to be exact, I start missing fall in New England. When I lived in New York City, fall was my favorite time of year. I could feel it in the air, the turn of season, when summer gave way to cooler evenings, shorter days, and the change of color on trees. On weekends, I enjoyed traveling to the Poconos or Catskills to enjoy the foliage—spectacular reds, oranges, yellows, and browns that blanketed the mountains for miles as far as the eye could see.

This was a time for hot ciders, sweaters, leather jackets, boots, and hikes along trails hidden under a carpet of dry leaves. In the evenings, fireplaces were lit, and cuddling on the couch was the way to spend the evening—reading books or feeling frisky under a warm blanket! Windows were left open, and I indulged on the smell of burning leaves, woods, and mud. Road trips to small town antique stores were compulsory on weekends, as were harvesting apples, pears and seasonal fruits that herald the harvest season. At night, stews and hearty meals replaced salads and sandwiches for dinner and one could once again enjoy a hearty Cote d’Rhone or Pinot Noir instead of a sangria or Lambrusco.

I miss fall and the change of seasons; I miss its colors and assault on the senses. Living in a state and city where weather patterns and forecasts are reduced to either sunny or rainy days, the lack of variety—or anticipation to change—only heightens my longing for fall. When I look in my closet at the jackets, boots, sweaters, and scarves I’d be wearing around this time of year, it pains me to pull a pair of shorts and T-shirt before venturing outside. When I see photos of friends on road trips to the places I used to visit this time of years, a tinge of sadness settles in my heart.

I won’t be able to make it north this year to visit and appreciate this season’s fall weather. But every time I see this photo, I’m reminded of one of the many reasons I fell in love with New England and Maine. There, in those mountains and lakes, lost in carnival of color that nature unfurled and revealed to us in so many of our road trips, I came to understand and enjoy the beauty of each season. If I close my eyes, I can imagine the cool breeze reddening my cheeks, the tug of my scarf around my neck, and the taste of pear cider (with a shot of rum or brandy) in my lips.

Ah, autumn…how I long for thee!