Just before I left my house for the Juvenile Detention Center where I tutor a functionally illiterate seventeen-year old boy, the hawk flew over my head, landed on a tree branch, and took a good long look at me. Omen? Why not? On my way to Juvie, I stopped at the book store to purchase a high interest/low level reader for Edward. I was hoping to find something about basketball. There's not much that Edward and I have in common, but we're both from Cleveland and we both love basketball and by default, we're both a little obsessed with Lebron James. Edward once shook Lebron's hand at a water park and I once had a letter published  in a local paper where I asked Lebron to stay. After Lebron broke up with the city of Cleveland on national TV, I've tried to ignore him. But Edward is still a fan. He told me he was happy  for Lebron to get a championship ring and I couldn't help but be impressed with Edward's magnanimity.

Barnes and Noble does not stock high interest/low level books, so I browsed the children's books. Stuck in the middle of the WHO WAS Biographies Series for children was this:

On the Court with Lebron James by Matt  Christopher

When the universe speaks to me, I listen. I bought the book.

I didn't have a chance to read with Edward today. Just after I arrived, he was called away to get an update on his sentence. A worker chatted with me while I waited. Ms. Foree was one of the kindest people I've met at the center. She asked if she could help Edward and I showed her the book.

I never did get a chance to work with Edward. When he came back, he was too shaken up to be able to concentrate. Mrs. Foree offered to read with Edward tonight. I hope he finds some solace there. It's the least Lebron can do.

Canine synchronicity

It's exciting that Cleveland is trying to reinvent. Less exciting that my son, Jesse, has decided to become an urban pioneer. He moved into his apartment yesterday, in a rougher neighborhood than what I'd like. The kind of neighborhood with a cop bar (who knew?) and stray dogs. 20130414-085038.jpg

Very large stray dogs. The kind who identify people with soft hearts.

This dog stood between Jesse and his front door and this is not the kind of dog you can budge. He unlocked his door and in she went. Such a sad dog. Tip of her tail is gone, weepy eyes, teats enlarged as if she had just given birth. Who knows?


The neighborhood is rough. Dogs are good security. This English mastiff is 100 pounds of security. The dog seemed to know something about us, about Jesse. I found a blanket in the living room and settled it in the kitchen for her.


She snores.

Mind the Gap: Day Three Hundred Twenty-Five

I aspire to meditate daily.Within my normal routine, I may skip a couple of times here and there, but mostly I get to it every day. But when my far-flung family gathered in one city, I rearranged my priorities. My parents who live in Florida, my son who lives in Los Angeles, my son and his girlfriend who live in Chicago, and myself and my husband who live in Cleveland, all made our way to New York City  to welcome the newest member of the family into the world: my new baby granddaughter. Meditation requires just twenty minutes of time and a solitary space within which to find stillness, but I was not willing to chop off any of my prescious minutes to devote to a solitary activity. I didn't want to take a chance on missing a moment of available time with my parents, children, husband, granddaughter. It's not that there was not a twenty minute block available here or there  (of course there was), but I never knew when my daughter might call and say the baby had just woken up or just been fed and was ready for a visit. It's the spontanteity I was not willing to give up.

So for the past couple of weeks, I've meditated only a couple of times and here I am trying to figure out what effect this has had on me. If there's one thing meditation has taught me, it's that you can't really figure out how meditation does and does not change your life. Conversely, it's not so useful to try to figure out what effect lack of meditation has had. I quiz myself: Am I more irritable? More anxious? Less productive? In other words, am I a different sort of person when I meditate and when I don't? It may be a question without an answer, but nevertheless it's the question foremost on all of our minds. Will this meditation thing do something relevant and immediate for me? I can see a trail of my accomplishments from the time I began to meditate almost a year ago until now and if that is a measure of change, I can see those things. But I can't see what would have happened had I not started to meditate. I feel powerful when I refuse to accept coincidence and am open to  the synchronicity that surrounds me, but I don't know how things would have played out were I still a person that noticed coincidence and then went blithely on ignoring the connections.

Maybe all the meditation I've done over the course of the past year has built up a reserve in me so the gap in my meditation schedule was of little matter.

Mind the gap. Cope with the gap. Meditate again.

Find Light: Days One Hundred Ninety-Five - One Hundred Ninety Six

Some days when I go in to find my third eye, that spot of light between my eyes I can see when I close my eyes, I find a jewel blue spot, brilliant and beautiful, and I coax that circle of blue down towards my heart.  But some days, like today, the light is scratchy and filmy and barely there at all.  "That's okay," I tell myself as I meditate, "Bring what you have to your heart.  Keep trying."

A Business with a Greenhorn(with apologies to Shalom Aleichem): Day One Hundred Ninety Four

I like to use the mantra "Who am I?"  The question is a tough one and I wonder whether I'll ever have the answer.  But, in the mean time, during my meditation today, I settled upon the word "greenhorn" and that word lead me to my grandmother.  To my grandmother, a greenhorn herself, the word "greenhorn" was used with special disdain for select people.  I can't remember the people to whom she referred when she talked about greenhorns, although I do think they were eastern European Jews who never were able to assimilate as well as she did.  My grandmother arrived in America before World War II and made her way to Cleveland in search of her father.  Her father had come stateside before she left Budapest with promises to bring his family over as soon as he was settled.  Instead, he never answered his daughter's letters and as far as she could tell, he set up a new life for himself in Los Angeles, California.  I often wonder whether I have unknown relatives, descendants of my great grandfather who started a new life for himself away from his greenhorn family. In the meantime, my grandmother had business to attend to.  She was entrepreneurial in that eastern European way.  She became a caterer and a seamstress and plugged away at making a living for her family.

The meditative question is: why did my grandmother come to me today?  What is happening around me that has caused her to visit?  I'll be pondering these questions and if I'm lucky, I'll figure it out.

By the way, the Shalom Aleichem story referred to above is a wonderful bit about a smarmy business man who easily takes advantage of a couple of greenhorns.  Love the way he writes the Yiddish dialect.  See if you can understand.

"You saying how America was a lend of business? Never mine! Det's how it's suppose to be. But a fella getting merry wid a goil for business? Det, you'll poddon me, is mean end doity. Now, I ain't preaching no morality here, but I am telling you it's a fect; when nine-end-ninety procent of grinnhorns in dis country is getting merry for business, it is making me med! End if I am meeting op wid such a kind of grinnhorn, belive me he don't get off dry. You live it to me!"


What does meditation have to do with golf? Everything: Days One Hundred Eighty Seven - One Hundred Ninety

I play golf at a country club in Cleveland, Ohio and when I play, I almost always walk. At my country club, if you walk, you're using a caddie and ever since I began playing the game about fifteen years ago, Carlton has been my caddie.  Carlton  knows my game of golf and when someone knows your game, they know a lot about you. There are two things you need to know about Carlton. One, he's drunk a pint of Mad Dog 20/20 every day for the last forty-five years. Two, he ain't never had a cold.

We've walked a lot of miles together, Carlton and I, and we talk mostly about my golf game, which is and always has been in a state of disrepair.  Mostly I feel bad about this because it is a disappointment for Carlton.  He believes in me and in my game.  His advice is usually:  "Keep your head down.  Let me watch your ball."  He also keeps track of the consistencies in my game:  how long I hit a full sand wedge (60 yards); my favorite shot (from behind the trees, under the branches, over the bunker -- this is all in one shot); the pause at the top of my swing (he doesn't like when it gets too long).

But lately, Carlton encourages me to keep up with my meditation.  That's because this year, since I've had a daily meditation practice, he has noticed a change in my game.  We laugh about the mind chatter in my head and agree that the meditation practice has softened the old loop of negative thoughts.  If you play golf, you're probably familiar with how it goes:  You can't make that shot.  You never hit this club well.  A two foot putt?  You always miss those!  The game is difficult enough when I'm surrounded by the serenity of the golf course and the encouragement of Carlton.  It's impossible with negative energy swirling around in my head.  That negativity flows pretty quickly into my swing.

The game demands respect, both for the game and for the player.  Honor the game.  Honor yourself.  Honor the hope that one day I'll play a game that makes Carlton proud.