Fantastic Friday

You are fantastic! You make this world a better place by being stalwart and strong.

Honorable Cruz Reynoso

Cruz Reynoso is a fantastic human being. His fascinating life is being chronicled in a  documentary, Sowing the Seeds of Justice.  He is one of those rare individuals who are not only shaped by history, like other heroes has made an indelible make on history.  This seminal documentary created by Abby Ginzberg, now showing on public broadcast stations, paints a portrait of Cruz Reynoso, a man who felt the sting of injustice as a child and later, as a lawyer, judge and teacher, fought for over five decades to eradicate discrimination and inequality for all.

Sowing the Seeds of Justice begins with Cruz Reynoso’s childhood where he was born into a Spanish-speaking farm worker family of eleven children. Sowing the Seeds of Justice tells about Justice Reynoso’s his struggle to be educated, leading to his graduation from Pomona College in 1953 and from UC Berkeley Law School in 1958. He then became the first Latino Director of California Rural Legal Assistance and later one of the first Latino law professors in the country beginning his academic career at the University of New Mexico Law School.

His ascent to the California Supreme Court was a singular achievement, when he was appointed by Governor Jerry Brown as the first Latino justice on that bench. Then in a heated recall campaign whose central issue was the death penalty, think Troy Davis and the state of Georgia, Reynoso and two other justices lost their seats.  As Vice Chair on the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, he provided leadership in the only investigation of voting rights abuses in the 2000 election in Florida. Mr. Reynoso has received the country’s highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, for his lifelong devotion to public service and today at 78, he continues to teach law at UC Davis Law School and to actively participate in community organizations throughout the state of California.

“I think it’s good if you have a pattern of activity that works for you, and I’ve always felt that as long as God

provides a mind that works and a body that works, you’re better off being active.” ~Cruz Reynoso.

We all are champions. Cruz Reynoso is a champion whose legal advocacy makes Friday Fantastic.

Happy Rosh Hashanah

Rosh HaShanah (ראש השנה) is the Jewish New Year. It falls once a year during the month of Tishrei and occurs ten days before Yom Kippur. Together, Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur are known as the Yamim Nora’im, which means the Days of Awe in Hebrew. In English they are often referred to as the High Holy Days.

The Meaning of Rosh HaShanah

Rosh HaShanah literally means “Head of the Year” in Hebrew. It falls in the month of Tishrei, which is the seventh month on the Hebrew calendar. The reason for this is because the Hebrew calendar begins with the month of Nissan (when it’s believed the Jews were freed from slavery in Egypt) but the month of Tishrei is believed to be the month in which God created the world. Hence, another way to think about Rosh HaShanah is as the birthday of the world.

Rosh HaShanah is observed on the first two days of Tishrei. Jewish tradition teaches that during the High Holy Days God decides who will live and who will die during the coming year. As a result, during Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur (and in the days leading up to them) Jews embark upon the serious task of examining their lives and repenting for any wrongs they have committed during the previous year. This process of repentance is called teshuvah. Jews are encouraged to make amends with anyone they have wronged and to make plans for improving during the coming year. In this way, Rosh HaShanah is all about making peace in the community and striving to be a better person.

Even though the theme of Rosh HaShanah is life and death, it is a holiday filled with hope for the New Year. Jews believe that God is compassionate and just, and that God will accept their prayers for forgiveness.

shofar

The shofar is an important symbol of Rosh HaShanah. It is an instrument often made of a ram’s horn and is blown one hundred times during each of the two days of Rosh HaShanah. The sound of the shofar blast reminds people of the importance of reflection during this important holiday. Learn more about the shofar in this article.

Tashlich is a ceremony that usually takes place during the first day of Rosh HaShanah. “Tashlich” literally means “casting off” and involves symbolically casting off the sins of the previous year by tossing pieces of bread or another food into a body of flowing water. Learn more about tashlich in this article.

Other significant symbols of Rosh HaShanah include apples, honey and round loaves of challah. Apple slices dipped in honey represent our hope for a sweet new year and are traditionally accompanied by a short prayer before eating that goes: “May it by Thy will, O Lord, Our God, to grant us a year that is good and sweet.” Challah, which is usually baked into braids, is shaped into round loaves of bread on Rosh HaShanah. The circular shape symbolizes the continuation of life.

On the second night of Rosh HaShanah it is customary to eat a fruit that is new to us for the season, saying the shehechiyanu blessing as we eat it to thank God for bringing us to this season. Pomegranates are a popular choice because Israel is often praised for its pomegranates and because, according to legend, pomegranates contain 613 seeds – one for each of the 613 mitzvot. Another reason for eating pomegranates on Rosh HaShanah has to do with the symbolic hope that our good deeds in the coming year will be as many as the seeds of the fruit.

What Should I Do?

Here is the complete question from a reader:

My Mother died today. But before she died she asked for me to come to visit. This is a woman who abandoned me when I was six and I did not hear another word from her until last week. Not only did I not go to her deathbed I am not planning to attend her funeral. What should I do?

Dear Beloved

In spite of your “abandonment” you were loved and are loved. First things first, I share your grief in the loss of your mother. It is apparent that you care about her and possibly question your decision to stay away even after she asked you to visit. The pain you feel from being excluded from her life is natural and well understood. You should grieve through all the stages.  Some writers, Dr. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross in her seminal work Death and Dying being one, list five stages of  grief while others (recover-from-grief.com) define bereavement in seven stages.  I suggest that you take time NOW to familiarize yourself with these stages for deeper understanding of your response to your Mother’s death.

Before you decide whether or not to attend the funeral, I want you to go to a quiet still place where you are alone and can stay there for at least thirty (30) minutes.  Once you are in this place, I want to you to repeat this:

I am love and can express and give agape love. I know love and have been given love. I forgive all those who did not or could not love me as I expected. I accept love.

Repeat this often until you satisfy your yearning for acceptance and love. Repeat this healing mantra through your tears. Repeat each word over and over again until you see a light of change and feel free from your past angry reaction to hurt.  Repeat these words again and again believing in an omnipresent love that has shadowed you from the second of your conception until now.

We tell ourselves many stories about love or its absence and accept “pouting” behavior as a punitive response to our mind-talk of despair and pain. Stop the litany of hurt, banish the mental anguish of punishment (which you impose upon yourself instead of the other person) and find love.  Go to your birth state of mind, where there is no pain, resentment, anger or bitterness. Go back to where you only knew the pure realms of love. Go to your inner knowing of grace. Drink deep of the elixir of the certainty of boundless love.

Repeat I accept love, I am love, I forgive, I give love …..even as you hyperventilate through your resistance.  Forgive your Mother, the one you carried you to birth to live this life of peaceful inner happiness, right NOW. You have allowed the destructive spirit of un-forgiveness to wipe out your truer love for her. Clear out the bitterness NOW.   In spite of the pain, in spite of the loss of relationship with your Mother, in spite of your disappointment for not getting the love you expected from her, forgive and release right now.

We have all all been torn by pain, but the bounty is that you are still alive and have this time to forgive and forgo.

Love yourself NOW, love your Mother NOW. Open your heart to acceptance of her choice, which was not what you wanted. Maybe you will never know why or the myriad of reasons that seemed rational to her at the time. Whatever the case, your learning lesson for NOW is to openly forgive. You cannot recover one lost second of time, so dwelling on the past will never alter the choice you can make right now.

When you have gone through clearing your pain, then ask your heart what should you do. You are free from the agony of pestering doubt, you are released from the daggers of being left alone, you no longer carry anger and fear; you can only love your Mother from the presence of now.  Right now, you know exactly what the loving thing you must do. Whichever choice you make at this point-when your heart is covered with love-is the precious right thing for you to do.

“One word frees us of all the weight and pain of life: that word is love.” ~Sophocles

As you go into bereavement  and are considering whether to attend the ritual of her funeral, be thankful.  Have a heightened sense of thanks; take time to “be there” in radiant love. Give thanks for the eruption of your repressed emotions.  Take time to honor those who did or tried to love you as you expected them to. Reflect on what is good for you in your life and magnify that goodness to the ten thousandth degree. Illuminate the world with your goodness, brighten the corner where your are…right now.

I know that what I am saying is hard to accept at times especially when you feel the right thing is to hold on to the past. But detach, go out and render service, give a caring hand to someone without expectation of reciprocal returns.  Get away from your self; give love whether large or small and cherish the moment.  Exhibit your love. Have a love that surpasses all understanding. Lay all your affairs in the restful loving spirit of peace.  Do this for your Mother and for yourself.  Offer kindness and empathy to someone who may be downtrodden.

Then truly speak loving prayers for the progress of her soul.  Nothing is permanent, even death for that umbilical cord of shared oneness will never end.

Accept your emotional dichotomy and move on to acting out love in all ways and always. Be noble, know your love and be love.  Love is the only permanent answer.

Miracle Monday: Imagination

What a day this will be, great bounties I can already see in my mind all possibility.

image provided by Idea go

Imagination governs the human race according to Napoleon.  The use of visualization allows you to imagine and see your miracle.  You already use imagination a lot every day, but to make it a Monday Miracle exercise, let’s amplify its use. For a test answer the following questions:

  1. What is the color of your bedspread?
  2. Does the bedspread have flowers?

How did you do? I am sure you were 100% accurate because you used the strong power of your imagination to vividly recall the answers.  You can do this for anything. Test it out. You can “see” or imagine yourself doing anything in the future or you can use your imagination to capture photographic memories of the past.  When you imagine happy things, you create happy memories along with similar feelings to go along with them. When you think of past pain, the same is true – you can recreate those solemn feelings too.  But,  the useful difference is that with imagination you can choose to picture these feelings any way that you want.

The mind cannot tell the difference

between a real or a vividly imagined experience.

So with each happy imagination you can make each one a miracle when the image is BOLD, BRIGHT, VIVID, COLORFUL and filled with feelings of emotional intensity. For the somber imaginings you can minimize their emotional effect by doing the exact opposite. Make somber, sad imaginations DRAB, GRAY, SMALL and no longer add feelings when you see this drab past.  Each time you think with sadness, do not deny the feeling, rather de-color it in your mind and move it far away from present memory far into the distance and fade it out as a gray grainy picture of the past.

Make vivid what brings you joy. Imagine peaceful happiness today, make that your miracle.

Fantastic Friday

Crystal Forrester, a mother of three children, is an angel to grieving parents. This Gainesville, Georgia woman has a compassionate heart to serve others in spite of her hectic schedule which includes working part-time delivering pizza for Domino’s.  Forrester started a charity called Charlie’s Little Angels.  “If a child passes away and the parents can’t afford to pay for their funeral, we will come in and help them out, buying headstones, donating coffins.”

Fantastic, sympathetic, sensitive, servant – these are just a few words I would use to describe Crystal. To step in and help heal a family’s grief when one of their children ascends is an incredible good deed that deserves recognition.  Be sure that recognition is not important to Forrester at all, but others notice her generous heart and feel that her acts of kindness deserve a spotlight or two.

Crystal Forrester is a fantastic woman who deserves praise on Fantastic Friday. Read her story: For more information on Charlie’s Little Angels here’s their web site, www.charlieslittleangels.org.

(Let me know about someone you think is fantastic and I will post their story here on Fantastic Friday. Let’s celebrate and honor what is Fantastic in each other.)

Miracle Monday: Expectation

It’s Monday and I am expecting bounteous goodness today. Are you?

Well, let’s look at what you are doing right that matches your expectation(s).  A few posts ago we did five mental exercises, go and review if you need a refresher or if you are a new reader. Consistently through each exercise we spent time specifying exactly what we wanted or expected to happen in our lives.  It’s time to re-check the strength (the right choices that you make) of our expectation mentality; it’s time to manifest a miracle.

“I try to do the right thing at the right time.

They may just be little things, but usually they make the difference between winning and losing. ”

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

Jabbar and other winners know this is the formula for manifesting – everyday.

Formula: Intentionally do right things, make right choices, think right all the time.

Definitely then you are a winner. Definitely then you can and will manifest exactly what you expect or something better.

Be right, do right, get right. Exactly! This is your inalienable birth right, right?