Remembering Robin Williams

“Tears shed for another person are not a sign of weakness. They are a sign of a pure heart.” ~José N. Harris

It’s natural to feel sad when someone close to us dies.
To feel a great sense of loss when someone whom you have never met dies, makes that person very special.

Monday afternoon, I got online to check some news. I can’t explain the shock I felt. I was totally stunned and really hoped it was a hoax.
How could Robin Williams be gone? I got on Twitter in tears. Sadly, it wasn’t a hoax. The world’s most beloved comedian, talented actor and beautiful human being, the genius Robin Williams passed away. I was heartbroken.

Like the rest of the world, I am completely devastated. His gifts to us span four decades. From the stage as a stand up comedian to actor of the big and small screen, he was insightful and brilliant. He was Mork in Mork & Mindy, the Radio Jock in Good Morning Vietnam, the Professor in Good Will Hunting, the Genie in Aladdin, Peter Pan in Hook and Mrs. Doubtfire plus many others. His role as an English teacher in Dead Poets Society still inspires people to become teachers.

I have never seen such an outpouring of love and support from friends, adoring fans and the media. The tributes coming in from family, friends and fans only confirm what we already knew. He was a gentle and generous soul. He was kind to all.

Robin Williams has a special place in our hearts. He was the world’s honorary uncle. His immeasurable talent(s) touched something deep inside of us. That is what true artists do.

My heart aches for his family and friends. I hope the media including the social media will allow them to mourn and grieve in peace.

We hope you have found the peace and laughter you gave to us all.
Gone from this world yet never forgotten.
Farewell, yet not goodbye.
We will miss you, Uncle Robin.

Here are little pearls of wisdom from Robin Williams: 50 great quotes

“No matter what people tell you, words and ideas can change the world!” ~Robin Williams, Dead Poets Society
Dead Poets Society

Bee a Righty

In the end, I’m not as interested in what you have to tell or sell as in how you choose to live and give. ~Cory Booker

Today, I read a very interesting article: Honeybees use right antennae to tell friend from foe

Researchers reveal that sensory neuron asymmetry affects how bees navigate social situations. It appears that honeybees use their right antenna to distinguish between friends and intruders.

The new study shows that honeybees with only a right antenna recognize and behave in a heartfelt way toward each other. When honeybees interact solely with their right antennas, they are more sociable, positive and interact with each other more cordially. Yet honeybees with only a left antenna go on the attack, even though they are hive-mates. In other words, when they have only their left antennas, they will more likely respond in an aggressive and negative way.

The same study suggests that the bees’ brains are wired asymmetrically, as are human brains. The right and left sides of the bees’ brains seem to perform different functions, like humans’ brains. This new study implies that brain asymmetry isn’t a uniquely human phenomenon after all.

A honeybee’s brain contains only 960,000 neurons whereas an average human brain contains 86 billion neurons. This just shows how extraordinary honeybees are. They are extremely smart. They use their right antennas to navigate complex social situations.

bee and daisy

PHOTO CREDIT: Bees Hive

We humans have a lot to learn from the honeybees.

I bet honeybees would be more civilized in social media. Some people in social media seem to be always on attack mode, whether they do it in public or behind the scenes. They seem to use their left antennas only. Celebrities and those who are friends with celebrities are prone to some ugly aggressive behaviors by others. Low self-esteem, insecurity and a fear-dominated mind-set must have have damaged their ability to use the right antenna.

I am right-brained. I prefer to use my right antenna and I always did. It has always served me well. Just like honeybees, the right antenna is indeed my caller-ID. I can see the difference between authentic and fake friends (those who pretend to be friends). I can distinguish between someone who is sincere and who isn’t. However, I always treat everyone with respect, no matter what.

I wish everyone could use their right antenna. It will always serve well both in personal and professional relationships. But if you can’t use your right antenna, at least be a good listener.

One way to break out of a negative mind-set is to identify the behaviors linked to your fears and try to find out which fears are motivating your decisions (that are ultimately damaging you).

Our actions are always echoed back to us. Choose kindness. If you can’t help people, at least don’t hurt them.

Utilize your right antenna. It can transform your life.

https://twitter.com/LovinShmay

PHOTO CREDIT: Shannon May

“The greatest fear in the world is of the opinions of others. And the moment you are unafraid of the crowd you are no longer a sheep, you become a lion. A great roar arises in your heart, the roar of freedom. When a man reaches an absolutely silent state, he roars like a lion.” ~Osho

Cherish Each Day

“We are all visitors to this time, this place. We are just passing through. Our purpose here is to observe, to learn, to grow, to love… and then we return home.” ~Aboriginal Proverb

WELCOME PIC

PHOTO CREDIT: Shannon May

It’s basic human nature that we take things for granted. Wisdom does not come easy. I believe we find wisdom in different ways created by our unique journeys in life. From personal experience, I know that we gain wisdom from hardships. Hardships create awareness and spiritual awakening.

I was profoundly touched by an email that a very dear friend sent me last week. Her loved one is battling a deadly disease. Tears were running down my face as I read her email.

For every living soul, our ultimate destination is the same. We may take different paths in this life yet we will arrive at exactly the same place.  

Our greatest power in life is to be able to see the special things in the present moment. I believe when humans face the reality of death, they’re more able to honor the people that they have taken for granted.

We get so distracted by our everyday routines that we don’t see the special things around us such as spending some quality time with our loved ones. If we go away for a few days, we miss them. It seems to me that as humans we are more capable of appreciating the people in our lives when separated from them or when we’re about to lose them.

Most people know about “The Last Lecture” by Randy Pausch.

Randy Pausch was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2006. His last lecture in 2007 was wisdom about the life he wished to leave to his family and students. Since then millions throughout the world have been touched by his wisdom, including me. His lecture wasn’t about leaving this earth, but rather the importance of seizing every day and living in the present moment.

“Time is all you have and you may find one day that you have less than you think.” ~Randy Pausch

As we gain wisdom, I believe we’re also learning not to be afraid of death. This is probably the ultimate wisdom. I believe when we face the prospect of dying, we’re liberated. We see everything more clearly. We don’t take anything for granted anymore. We become selfless and self-improved. We honor the special things of the present moment and people who deserve our attention.

During her eulogy to Steve Jobs, his sister Mona Simpson revealed that his final words were: “OH WOW. OH WOW. OH WOW”

Is it possible to embrace the mystery of death?
I certainly believe it is. By embracing death, we die with ease, grace and wisdom.

Somewhere in outer space, the sun shines continuously, as does our soul. The soul will return from where it came and live in eternity.

Life and death are not two, but one.

Cherish each day. Live life fully!

Showing gratitude is one of the simplest yet most powerful things humans can do for each other. ~Randy Pausch

SUNFLOWER

PHOTO CREDIT: Shannon May

Gift Giving

Once I was shopping in a designer store, a petite woman in front of me, was trying to do an exchange. She claimed she received the blouse as a gift and her friend who gifted her, had told her that she could exchange the blouse to her desired size in that particular store. I couldn’t help but follow the conversation between her and the woman at the register as they were talking loudly.

Now, here is the funny part: the blouse looked as big as size 16 and the woman’s size couldn’t be larger than 8. The sales associate at the register told the woman that she couldn’t proceed with an exchange because the item was not purchased in that store (possibly an outlet, where all sales are final). The customer was not very happy as she was leaving the store. Was the unhappiness due to the fact that her friend didn’t have any idea about her size, not even close or was it because she couldn’t exchange the wrong sized item?

I have a pretty good eye for size. I can buy gifts for my loved ones living in distance, just by looking at their pics and they would fit perfectly.

When you give a personal gift, such as clothes, wouldn’t it be a good idea to have an approximate idea of size? Or not give at all and buy another gift, something that can be treasured without going through the hustle and bustle of exchanges. We should also remember all hard working sales people in the stores, who are heavily burdened during the hectic holiday hours. I must admit sometimes I think the sales people are angels with utmost patience as some customers can be so unreasonable.

When we give gifts, wouldn’t it be wonderful to give them with love and not just for the sake of giving a gift?

We shouldn’t consume in the name of love. We should be creative and thoughtful in the name of gift giving.

Maggie's Rose
Pat Austin Rose ~ grown by Maggie Rawlinson.
PHOTO CREDIT:
Jon Rawlinson

Happy Thanksgiving!

Gratitude is the fairest blossom which springs from the soul. ~Henry Ward Beecher

The essence of a Thanksgiving celebration is our need to connect with loved ones, and to express gratitude for all our blessings.

The kitchen is the heart of a home. In cooking, we move beyond ourselves into loving and compassionate care of our loved ones and friends.

Cooking a Thanksgiving meal is a wonderful opportunity to share our love and practice mindfulness.

Mindfulness is a source of happiness. Let’s cook with our whole being. Let’s taste the abundance and blessings of the moment. Let’s be grateful.

You don’t have to sacrifice your healthy diet on Thanksgiving.
Here are my healthy Thanksgiving recipes that are both delicious and low in calories.

Happy Thanksgiving!

ROASTED TURKEY

INGREDIENTS

1 turkey rinsed well and patted dry. You should wash your hands, cutting boards, utensils, counter tops and surfaces with hot soapy water after handling turkey.
1 cup chopped parsley
1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage leaves
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary, plus 3 sprigs
8 cloves garlic, minced
5 tablespoons grape seed oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 lemons, poked thoroughly with fork
Salt and ground pepper
1 quart apple cider

DIRECTIONS

1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
2. Remove packet of giblets and neck from cavity. Rinse and refrigerate.
3. Turn turkey on it’s back.
4. In a small bowl, combine parsley, rosemary, sage, thyme, garlic, 4 tablespoons oil, 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, 1 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon pepper. Using your fingers, loosen skin of breast and around thighs, and rub herbal mixture under skin of both breast and thighs.
5. Fill cavity with lemons and rosemary sprigs.
6. Pour apple cider in bottom of roasting pan. Set roasting rack on top. Place turkey onto rack, breast side up. Rub turkey generously with remaining oil; season with salt and pepper.
7. Cover turkey loosely with foil. Roast about 1 hour. Uncover, basting frequently with pan juices and roast until the thermometer inserted into thickest part of thigh reads 170°F. Remove from the oven and cover loosely with foil. Let stand about 30 minutes before carving.

PUMPKIN SALAD

INGREDIENTS

1 cup pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
2 sugar pumpkins (4 pounds each), peeled, seeded, and cut in 1 1/2-inch chunks
10 tablespoons grape seed oil
8 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Salt and black pepper
5 tablespoons pure maple syrup
6 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
3 pounds arugula
12 ounces feta cheese

DIRECTIONS

1. Preheat oven to 450°F.
2. Spread pepitas on a large baking sheet; toast in oven, about 5 minutes. Set aside.
3. On a large baking sheet, toss pumpkin with 5 tablespoons oil, red pepper, salt and black pepper. Roast, until pumpkin is tender, about 30 minutes.
3. Drizzle pumpkin with 2 tablespoons maple syrup; toss well. Return to oven and continue roasting, until pumpkin is glazed, 10 minutes more.
4. In a large bowl, add lime juice, minced garlic, mustard and remaining maple syrup. Add remaining oil while whisking constantly. Season with salt and pepper.
5. Add arugula and pumpkin; toss well.
6. To serve, sprinkle salad with toasted pepitas and crumbled feta cheese.

Serves 8

BUTTERNUT SQUASH GRATIN

INGREDIENTS

6 tablespoons grape seed oil
4 medium leeks, white part only
1 cup dry sherry
2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage
2 pounds butternut squash, peeled, seeded and sliced 1/8-inch thick
2 pounds apples (preferably Gala or Fuji), peeled, cored and cut into 1/8-inch thick slices
Salt and ground pepper
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

DIRECTIONS

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
2. In a pan, heat 2 tablespoons of oil over medium heat. Add leeks and 3 tablespoons water; season with salt and pepper. Cook, until the leeks are brown, about 8-10 minutes. Add sherry and sage; cook about 3 more minutes. Set aside.
3. In a large baking dish, arrange squash in layers. Spread leeks evenly over the squash.
4. Arrange apples in layers over the leeks. Brush apples with remaining oil. Cover with foil. Bake about 45 minutes.
5. Uncover and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Bake about 10 minutes until the cheese is golden brown. To serve, garnish with sage leaves.

Serves 8

ROASTED SWEET POTATOES

INGREDIENTS

2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
1/3 cup pure maple syrup
1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Salt and ground pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS

1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
2. Arrange sweet potatoes in a 9 X 13-inch baking dish.
3. Combine maple syrup, butter, lemon juice, salt and pepper in small bowl.
4. Pour the mixture over the sweet potatoes; toss well.
5. Cover with foil. Bake the sweet potatoes for about 15 minutes. Uncover, stir and bake until tender, about 50 minutes more.

Serves 8

ROASTED SQUASH WITH GARLIC AND PARSLEY

INGREDIENTS

6 pounds winter squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 1-inch chunks
5 tablespoons grape seed oil
Salt and ground pepper to taste
5 cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons chopped Italian parsley

DIRECTIONS

1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
2. Toss squash with 2 tablespoons oil, salt and pepper.
3. Spread squash chunks evenly on a large baking sheet. Roast, stirring occasionally, until all squash chunks are tender, about 30 minutes or more.
4. Heat the remaining 3 tablespoons oil in a small pan over medium heat. Add garlic and cook gently, about 1 minute.
5. Toss the roasted squash with the garlic and chopped parsley.

Serves 8

BRUSSELS SPROUTS WITH THYME

INGREDIENTS

3 tablespoons grape seed oil
4 shallots, chopped
2 pounds Brussels sprouts, trimmed
2 cups vegetable broth or chicken broth
3 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried thyme
Salt and ground pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS

Heat oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add shallots, Brussels sprouts; cook about 4 minutes. Stir in broth, thyme, salt and pepper. Cook until the Brussels sprouts are tender, about 15 minutes.

Serves 8

Bon Appetite!

Peace on Earth – It’s Only a Breath Away

By Matthew Fry

Jill Bolte Taylor, a 37-year-old Harvard-trained Neuroscientist, had a research opportunity few would wish for, when a blood vessel exploded in her brain causing a massive stroke. In the video below she talks about how she watched as her brain functions — motion, speech, self-awareness — shut down one by one, and about the spiritual and medical metamorphosis she experienced after.

Taylor explains how the brain is split into two hemispheres, and how each processes information differently and thinks and cares about different things, essentially having it’s own personality.

The right hemisphere thinks visually and learns kinesthetically. It is all about the present: “right here, right now,” which is the basic teaching of Zen philosophy; Zen meaning to wake up to the present moment. It is empathetic and sees that “we are energy beings connected through the consciousness of our right hemispheres as one human family.”
The left hemisphere thinks linearly and methodically and is all about the past and the future. It thinks in language and creates on-going brain-chatter, being the source of the little voice that says, “I am,” giving the sense of ego and separateness. On the morning of her stroke, Taylor’s left-brain was knocked out of action by a blood clot the size of a golf ball. She lost the ability to speak and read as her left-brain began to shut down. At the same time she stepped into the right-brain world of connectedness and empathy which she affectionately calls “la la land”. When she woke in hospital later that afternoon, she was shocked to still be alive. “I’m still alive, and I have found Nirvana, and if I have found Nirvana and I am still alive, then everyone can find Nirvana! I pictured a world filled with beautiful, peaceful, compassionate, loving people who knew that they could come to this space at any time and that they could purposely choose to step to the right of their left hemispheres and find this peace, and then I realized what a tremendous gift this could be, what a stroke of insight this could be, and it motivated me to recover.”

Fortunately, her left hemisphere was not permanently destroyed, and over the course of eight years, with an angel of a mother by her side, she made an awe-inspiring complete recovery.


Today, she says she is a new person, one who can step into the consciousness of her right hemisphere on command and be “one with all that is.”

I was deeply moved by her astonishing story which brought to tears when watching the video for the first time. Taylor’s drive and enthusiasm is infectious, and the combination of her science expertise and personal stroke of insight was profound and penetrative. It allowed my left-brained way of thinking to be utterly convinced of the reality of something else, something natural, something that was “part of the potential experience of every person.”

Through the process of meditation – a right brain activity – we can each cultivate a greater sense of peace, teaching our right-brains to dominate our left, and thus really harness the power of the left-brain, with the ego being tamed; perhaps converted from a perceived enemy into a friend.

Jill Bolte Taylor believes that “the more time we spend choosing to run the deep inner peace circuitry of our right hemispheres, the more peace we will project into the world, and the more peaceful our planet will be.”

What an amazing insight she has brought to us by means of her own personal, somewhat traumatic experience! I’m tremendously grateful for the blessing and see it as an incredibly important message that really needs to be shared with our world.

I hope one day everyone on our planet will embrace these profound insights and begin to develop their own sense of inner peace, for which meditation is an invaluable key.
Peace on Earth – it’s only a breath away.

About the Author of this Article: Matthew Fry is a Positive Change Agent and Social Activist. His Love and Enthusiasm is contagious.
You can follow him on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/lovepeaceunity
You can help him unleash his Best Idea For Humanity by voting here: http://www.bit.ly/votepeace

Are We Spiritual or Physical Beings?

Why do many relationships/friendships not last when they begin with so much promise?

I believe the quality of our relationships with our family, friends and loved ones is influenced by the quality of our lives. How we see ourselves directly effects how we see and treat others.

A true and authentic friendship is formed when nothing is expected in return whether online or in person. It’s the healthiest of relationships. It is pure and simple. No pretense or judgment. Nothing to prove or explain. No one is taken for granted. Both are equal.

A spiritual relationship begins with love, trust and understanding. The bond is pure, and the love unconditional. It warms my heart to have such relationships allowing each other to grow.

When we relate to others on a deeper level, we can maintain a more meaningful relationship. This has nothing to do with our (physical) presence.

My best friend and I have been living far away from each other most of our lives. We respect each others’ individuality. I chose to move away and live in different places whereas she chose to live in the same place. Our friendship is solid. It doesn’t matter the distance or length of the time we have not seen one another. We are always connected. It’s a giving friendship without boundaries. I am privileged to have friends like her. Just knowing that they are on this earth, gives me much joy.

A relationship is a place we go to give, not to receive.
To nurture our soul and spirit.

photo(1)

Lucky Love

My Dear Friends,

This year, Feb 14th is a very special date.

The Chinese New Year (“The Year of the Tiger”) begins on Feb. 14, 2010 and ends Feb. 2, 2011. The Tiger represents vitality, courage and authority.

This year, Chinese New year and Valentine’s Day are being celebrated on the same day. A day of celebration for Lovers, Family and Friends!

Valentine’s Day isn’t just about red roses and heart-shaped red boxes. Valentine’s Day is about Love of all kinds. It’s about Friendship. It is a time of appreciation and gratitude for those that bring Joy into our lives.

Red is the color of the Chinese New Year and Valentine’s Day.
For Chinese, Red is a Lucky color. For the western society, Red represents Love. Continue reading