Mala Shop

Friday, November 13, 2009

A Festival and Playing with Extension Beads

Custom mala-makers have all the fun. Really we do. Here are some of the beads I pulled out to show a customer who wanted a little something special in his mala. There's some amber, a carved eternal knot, art glass, different silvers...the choices can be endless.

But eventually all designs come together. I just thought you might like to see this photo of a design "in process".

Isn't everything in process all the time?

Today is my big prep day for showing the malas, (my little family of prayer beads), at the Olivenhain Arts and Crafts Festival. It's from 9-4 on Rancho Santa Fe Road in Olivenhain—which is in Encinitas, California.

It's a lovely place to hang out for a day, a large lot covered with eucalyptus trees, with a couple of historical buildings. There's a meeting hall that used to be a church. That's where I sat last year, but this year I'll be outside with Elsiee of Etsy. She's a craft fair queen and it will be a lot of fun to show next to her dharma and internationally-inspired jewelry.

Come on by and see us! You're not busy, are you? It's not far...

"If you ever plan to motor west,
Travel my way, take the highway that is best.
Get your kicks on route sixty-six.

It winds from chicago to la,
More than two thousand miles all the way.
Get your kicks on route sixty-six.

Now you go through saint looey
Joplin, missouri,
And oklahoma city is mighty pretty.
You see amarillo,
Gallup, new mexico,
Flagstaff, arizona.
Don't forget winona,
Kingman, barstow, san bernandino.

Won't you get hip to this timely tip:
When you make that california trip
Get your kicks on route sixty-six.

Won't you get hip to this timely tip:
When you make that california trip
Get your kicks on route sixty-six.
Get your kicks on route sixty-six.
Get your kicks on route sixty-six."

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Movie Recommendation—Michael Jackson's This Is It

As I go to movies throughout the week, I often think "Oh, I need to tell folks about this one on my blog."

Then I double-think it and end up not doing it. Why would anyone read a Dharma blog with a movie review?

Well, I would, so here it is!

This week's Movie Recommendation:

Michael Jackson's This Is It

I wouldn't have thought it would be so good, but my guitar teacher fiercely suggested I must see it. It was extraordinary.

Back in the mid-80s I lived in a basement apartment beneath a house owned by a family with two elementary school boys who became completely enamoured with Michael Jackson. They first began to visit our home, wearing their one glove each, and tell us in song and dance how cool he was. It began innocently enough, but after a while it became a full frontal assault. Ding and dash and "beat it" blaring out of small boomboxes outside our front door. It didn't end well. Before it did, we retaliated by blasting Tibetan chants from our tiny tape player. So much for being subtle. Not my finest moment, and it didn't help anything, and the whole thing was both terrifying and funny.

Partly because of these small terrorists, I skipped the whole adoration of Michael thing. Until last night.

Alone with strangers in a crowded theater, unbelievably crowded for a Tuesday night, with my hand deep in popcorn, I watched as this genius (there, I said it) directed musicians, singers, and dancers in stage rehearsals for his upcoming world tour. He directed them as if there was no tomorrow.

Fred Astaire came to mind as I watched him move. Gershwin came to mind as I listened to the chords and vocal arrangements. The jazz scat singers were raised from the ground as Michael scooted up and down and sideways in the vocal scale, always holding back so as not to strain his voice.

He was translucent and commanding. He didn't look as if he would die soon—his dancing showed great stamina and grace, although he was as thin as a man could be.

What this movie does that a world tour might not have done is show an artist at the pinnacle of his talent at work with other artists. It was quite moving and very inspiring. It is a movie that makes you want to dance and practice dancing, that makes you want to sing a phrase over and again until you get it just so, just as he does onscreen.

I didn't expect to be so moved. At times I just couldn't eat popcorn. My throat was constricted with sadness that this talent had been lost.

But maybe there's a bigger plan in all this— there must be if you believe in that sort of thing, as I do.

It made me think about blame and forgiveness. Now that he's gone, I personally want to give him the benefit of the doubt and honor the greatness in him. We'll never know what really happened on Neverland Ranch with the kids. I hope they are all okay. Who can know how to judge? But there should be more to his final story than the sensationalized version we've been fed by the media for years. There should be an acknowledgement of what's he's done artistically.

Go see it. honestly, you'll come home wanting to create and listen to more music. There's a message in the stage production about saving the planet, love, and worship that I think you'll enjoy a lot.

What a high note to end a life on. Sorry that he's gone. Rest in Peace.

Video link is Here.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Turning Happiness and Suffering into Enlightenment

(The third Dodrupchen Rinpoche—1865-1926)

My last post was something I hesitated to write, but I got so many responses from others who are going through the same sort of things I am. People pondering life at the tail end of this uncertain and seemingly perilous year.

Thank you so much, blog friends, for writing your thoughts!

Actually, it was a turning point to write that post and be prodded by the responses.

I decided that no matter what, I'm going to keep turning towards the light and not get stuck in fear, distrust of events, worry about specific or non-specific things. As a Buddhist I've always thought that renunciation was important. Not to get stuck in expecting the things of this life to last, wanting happiness to arise from within, as His Holiness the Dalai Lama advises. True happiness, lasting happiness, comes from within and isn't dependent on external things.

But if you take that logic too far in the wrong way there's the danger of being nihilistic, thinking that things on the outside don't matter, and they do. Oh so much. You have to try to be happy, to not suffer!

How do the Buddhist views of non-attachment reconcile with the idea of visualizing happiness? How would the great Kadampa masters (the ultimate Tibetan compassion warriors) respond to "The Secret"?

I've been thinking about this all week. People can be attached to their own suffering in a self-negating, masochistic way, and that doesn't help at all ever, especially when things get tough. We have to be our own best friends, as my teacher says. We have to be as kind to ourselves as we try to be to other sentient beings. When we meditate and practice and pray, if we dedicate it for all beings, we are included.

My little study group read from the text "Turning Happiness and Suffering into Enlightenment" today. It just puts everything into perspective. According to this Tibetan text you should try not to get stuck in happiness and good things that happen, trying not to be attached to them but using happiness as a basis from which to practice. When bad things happen you should try to see them as reminders to turn to the practices of compassion, meditation, and renunciation, among others. In this way everything that happens helps us on the path. That's the briefest of explanations, but the logic and beauty of this text brightens things up a lot.

This attitude truly seems like the key to real happiness.

These are the thoughts occupying my mind lately. What's on yours today?

Take care,

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Sometimes life is just an 11-month-old border collie giving you the staredown

Has this been a crazy, mixed up, intense year for you? Or is it just me?

I wonder this as I read the news and analyses, people's blogs, and talk to people.

Anyone who says this has been an easy year is either independently wealthy or living with a bag over their head, although I doubt that would really be easy.

In keeping with my normal tell-the-truth-and-it-will-set-you-free attitude, I have to let you know that this has been both the worst possible year and one of the best for me.

I bet you can guess what the best things have been—meeting customers and bloggers, designing malas for people to use throughout the world (thereby hopefully helping to increase positivity EVERYWHERE!), my growing and lovely children, my 20th anniversary with a great man, and my growing and lovely new dharma center.

Among the worst things have been—getting a cuddly, fuzzy border collie puppy that turned out to be Cujo with bad teeth (although she is improving her manners daily), listening to the sad stories of people who've lost jobs and homes, being part of the care team for my mother, whose health has gotten worse and worse this year. Finally, to round out this recent thoroughly miserable part of the year, we lost a brother-in-law, an old friend (Goodbye, Sinesia), my parents' cat, and the partner of a dear friend—all died within two weeks. I'm not even mentioning the additional deaths that affected other people I'm close to.

So lately it's been a real test of faith and patience. I just can't stand it when people suffer, so I try to pray for them, and I know it helps but sometimes you want to SEE the positive results. Only raising the dead and curing the old and sick would be the type of results that would satisfy me, and I'm not there yet. So it's been time to endure, go deep, perhaps to the bottom, and slowly emerge refreshed.

Talk about dark night of the soul.

But refreshed is how I feel now. I have a new feeling of being lighter and accepting all that I can't control. Each day is sacred. I figure if I'm lucky I may have 30 years left and I want to take total advantage of living them Exactly the way I want.

Which means just what I've been doing—a daily practice, creative spiritual work, art, motherhood...

But it means less of the feeling of dread and responsibility. Because none of that helps.

Again, as the post title says, sometimes life is just an 11-month-old border collie staring you down. (You know they're just one step away from being wolves.)


Next exciting stop, The Olivenhain Craft Fair in Olivenhain California on November 14th. 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. I don't do many craft fairs—this is the only one in a year, so it's pretty special to get to talk to live customers and friends. Come on by if you're in the area. I'll let you know in pictures how it goes!