mulberryshoots

"Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?" ~ Mary Oliver

Tag: synchronicity

the ‘unseen hand of the Universe’ today. . .

 

a flexible glass tube flower vase "lost" and now "found" . . .

A friend from my college days wrote to me today that she didn’t understand how elements in my book, “Uncommon Hours” combined such concepts as transcendental values, the tarot, horoscopes and the “unseen hand of the Universe” as components of a consistent world or life-view. I, in turn, was baffled because it’s exactly how my life seems to perk along everyday.

For example, I spent quite a bit of time today in the local Bank of America office trying to sort out some accounting errors and to report fraudulent activity on my checking account. It took a long time because the Bank’s fraud department didn’t answer the phone even after an hour’s wait in the manager’s cubicle. After I went home to try the fraud line again, I returned to the bank to close out my account and open a new one. During this time, I had become friendly with the bank manager who helped me with these transactions. During our chitchat while waiting to connect with said fraud department, she told me about “Instant Pot” – an electric pressure cooker.  I was delighted to hear about it because I’ve used a manual pressure cooker to cook brown rice macrobiotically but had stopped doing it because it took too long. She was enthusiastic about this kitchen gadget that would cook rice, make stock and stews as a pressure cooker (meaning fast) and could also be used as a slow cooker. When I went home, I read about it on Amazon, saving it in my checkout box.

Later this evening, I watched a chamber music special called “Simple Gifts,” a “Live from Lincoln Center” program about artist-led performances at the Shaker community in Kentucky, held in an incredible tobacco barn that was magical in its appearance with daylight showing between the slats and superior performances of artist-led chamber music. I thought it was an interesting concept not to have a conductor, but for various musicians leading the rest of the ensemble themselves, depending on whether/when they had the lead melody including wind instruments. It’s such a simple and basic concept but I had not seen it performed with such a large ensemble. I was also impressed by the co-directors, a husband-wife musician team who played the piano and cello: Wu Han and David Finckel who are also directors of the Chamber Music Society at Lincoln Center.

Directly after the special, the PBS station segued right into a healthy diet program featuring a Dr. KellyAnn somebody. She was a little grating so I turned it off but idly looked up her book online and read about her regimen to lose weight and turn your health around in 21 days because I had resolved to get in better shape just tonight after we had finished dinner. Her routine turned out to rely on two days of “fasting” and sipping homemade bone broth from beef bones or chicken bones, etc. simmering on the stove for six hours or so.

So if you’re still with me, of course, that brings my day full circle to the convo at the bank earlier where I learned about the Instant Pot which, (voila!,) is capable of making stock that takes hours on the stove in just a couple of hours in its electric pressure cooker mode. Get it? The unseen hand of the Universe, right?

But what about the horoscope part? I had read that Jupiter, a very powerful and positive planet, would enter G.’s birth sign today for the first time in twelve years, perhaps auguring good fortune. Lo and behold this afternoon, we received some good news from a Court ruling, giving us a small victory we had hoped for. Maybe we might even be turning the corner in this David vs. Goliath battle! See what I mean?

The opening question above also challenged the spiritual premise of my book and my first over-reaction was to ditch it, frustrated that yet another reader didn’t “get it” the way that I had intended. After today’s events though, I decided not to give up on it just because someone else could not imagine a life filled with so much serendipity and synchronicity.

Today has been a busy day and I feel the Universe has given me a good lesson (again!)  Hallelujah! This is the way my life goes along, just about every day. I’m not kidding. Is it just following your intuition? Seems like more than that to me, doesn’t it?

Thank you Helpers!

Note: I ordered the “Instant Pot” to make bone broth per the 21 day diet plan. Will buy ingredients today at Mekong, a Vietnamese market in town and make a first batch of bone broth after the pot arrives and I figure out how to do it. Stay tuned.

a “yarn” . . .

Noro Yarn, "Cyochin"

Noro Yarn, “Cyochin”

Remember when the “New Age” was upon us? Around the time of the millenium or some years back before that? When did the new “Age of Aquarius” really begin anyhow (in the 1960’s and 70’s?)  And is it still going on? Some of my favorite CDs to play in the car are piano compositions recorded by Windham Hill, a label that epitomized new age music for me with work by composers like Liz Story, William Ackermann and Michael Jones. The music itself brings back memories of an easier time in the world, if not in my own at the time. Maybe that’s why I enjoy listening to it now: things are so much better in my life compared to then.

Outside, things feel bleak due to the frustratingly protracted political gridlock in Washington, D.C.; to the shock waves due to mass shootings, global spying, hacking, identity-theft, you name it: everyday it hits us on the news, in the newspapers and on the radio while driving around doing errands. The age we live in now is also pre-empted by an ever increasing social media frenzy whipped up by the press along with random ads that pop up everywhere you look on the internet: a dizzying melange of unasked-for opinions and cyberspace junk mail.

In quieter times past, I, for one, used to rely on “signs”, reading the Tarot spreads on occasion, writing down intentions, visualizing goals and so on. Lately, not so much.

Even so, I was thinking the other day about certain events that have occurred in our little world that have made a big difference, a turn of events outside of our own control. I recognized that almost everything important in my life has unfolded that way: moving down here for a new job over twenty years ago, and meeting my second husband (a piano tuner) because the movers didn’t put the lyre back on my Steinway properly.

You can call it synchronicity or serendipity. Or we could just acknowledge that the Universe, and God, have plans for us that we know nothing about until it is revealed to us. It almost makes me think that we should just live and let live, and mostly get out of our own way so that the Universe can do its thing more easily than having us try to fix things ourselves. Do you ever find that to be true in your life too?

I am writing about this nebulous topic today because of what happened to me this weekend. I had been unsuccessful in three attempts to order yarn online from WEBS, a yarn warehouse about an hour’s drive away from me in Northampton. The appearance of the three lots of yarn in my hands was very different in gauge, weight and color from what I had seen (or imagined) on my computer screen.

instead of mailing it back a third time, I got in the car and decided the only way that I might find yarn I wanted to make something for myself with, was to go and take a look in person.

I was right because there was only one yarn in the entire warehouse that drew me in, a gorgeous new Noro yarn.

yarn 5It was multi-colored and a swatch had been knitted up that hung beside the yarn on the shelves so that you could see what the colors looked like knitted up. I’ve worked with many multi-colored yarns before this, most of which surprised in a negative way, the colors not blending or looking right, which can result in omitting some colors and being surrounded by lots of little balls of various color lots to choose from when finishing a garment. I’ve been there lots of times, so I was glad to see the swatch that showed the beauty of how the colors played out together.

It was very expensive, but with the credit of the returned yarn, and a discount based on the dollar amount of the yarn, I could almost justify going for it. I thought maybe I could afford just six skeins and knit a vest with a kimono look. At the last minute, I asked for four additional skeins which brought the discount up to 25% off. With ten skeins of this unusually beautiful yarn tucked safely in my car, I found a parking place in town after a few tries and had a quick lunch at Osaka, my favorite Japanese restaurant. Over soft-shell crab tempura, I sketched out designs on index cards while I ate to see how the ten skeins of yarn could be used in an unconventional manner but didn’t come up with anything novel or exciting.

On the way home, as I was thirsty from the saltiness of my lunch, I decided to swing by Barnes and Noble to have an iced tea and look at their yarn books, not having found anything earlier in Northampton. The book section didn’t yield anything, but then, my eye fell on a magazine by Noro, the manufacturer of the yarn I had just bought with a patchwork sweater on the cover made out of the same exact colorway of the new Noro yarn that was sitting in my car.Yarn 2

The pattern was perfect: a loose-fitting tunic with dolman sleeves and interesting patches knitted in various cable designs on the asymmetric tunic front. I couldn’t believe it. It was as though I led myself (or was led) to look for and find the yarn in one place, and then find the pattern in a second, three hours later, a third of the state of Massachusetts apart.

Noro pattern of a tunic sweater with patchwork

Noro pattern of a tunic sweater with patchwork

Oh, and that’s not even to mention that while I was browsing in one of my favorite stores called “Irrisistibles” in Hamp that has books and household whimseys, I saw a display of metal hanging placards, one of which said, “Everything Will Be All Right.” It was $30 and I thought, I can just print that out myself when I get home and put it on the fridge. It was definitely the right message for me at the right time. New age or not, that familiar twinge of recognition, seeing a message meant for me was unmistakeable. I was buoyed up by it on the way home having forgotten that maybe I wasn’t struggling along alone after all.

So, how “new age” is that for a day filled with coincidences? You’ve heard of the phrase, “there are no accidents,” right? Well, what I take away from this little yarn saga is that the Helpers are definitely out and about and that even when I don’t think I need help, their generous handiwork is very apparent. They must be laughing their heads off up there!

I hadn’t wanted to make the drive out to return the yarn, and when I did, the only yarn I liked appeared to be prohibitively expensive. With the credit and an additional discount, I unwittingly purchased ten skeins, the exact amount of yarn required by the pattern on the cover of Noro magazine to make an unusual patchwork tunic sweater.

Plus, the real gift of the day was coming across and being reassured by the comforting admonition that “everything will be all right.” If you believe it, maybe it will happen.

Priceless.

so far, so good. . .

so far, so good. . .

the Dao . . .


I’ve been feeling a little virtuous lately because all week, I’ve been doing scheduled tasks on the actual day that I intended to do them. Most mornings, I eye the “to-do” boxes and move them to the next day or later in the week.

Yesterday, I cleaned up the word document for the first year’s text of the blog. I put together and sent my 2011 tax info to my accountant and mailed it. I didn’t spend any money all day except at the post office. I resisted getting a Dairy Queen cone dipped in chocolate to reward myself for getting my tax stuff done.

Today, I took boxes of books that were congregated downstairs in the entry halls to donate to the Worcester Public Library. I was greeted at the loading dock by friendly and helpful people who thanked me Read the rest of this entry »

longevity. . .

Wikipedia ginkgo leaf photo


Before Christmas and the visits with my children and granddaughters, I found that I had been moping around about aging and fatalistic about how long I would live and what I might do with the time I have left. The culture we live in bombards us with how to stay young, how to look and feel better, exercise, eat more healthy foods. But not much is said about the quality of our lives in the context of purpose, as we go from our 60’s to being 70. And then from 70 on to 80. And, if you’re lucky, I guess, even beyond that.

I had made a book for my family that contained a number of my posts describing my life along with photos of the family that I gave to them on my birthday, which comes a few days after Christmas every year. I had in mind that it was especially meant for my granddaughters, Anna and Josie because they will have a chance to know me, as Read the rest of this entry »

toeing the tao. . .


So what does it mean to live a taoist life? I added a new tagline to begin the new year: “one woman’s (taoist) way of life.”

Here’s how it happened. . .

While the bottom was falling out of my life over twenty-five years ago (see eggs in one basket), someone gave me the Book of Changes, or the I-Ching, translated by Richard Wilhelm. At first, I thought it was an Oracle book, readings sought by tossing coins to focus on hexagrams that might shed light and wisdom on conundrums facing me when there seemed to be no answers in sight.

I read a lot about the I-Ching and I read the book itself a lot by throwing hexagrams and writing down in spiral notebooks all the words that were intuitively meaningful to me so that I might be able to piece together what it seemed to be saying to me about my very uncertain future.

Over time, as I filled up notebook after notebook of what the hexagrams were relating to me, I began to see a pattern emerge:

a) my questions were often too specific because I was in a rush to learn what might happen to me (yes or no questions about what to do next) so I learned to form broader and more open-ended questions, such as: “what would be helpful for me to know, or understand in such-and-such a situation?” rather than, “will this or that happen?”

b) the majority of the time, I found that I missed nuances or misinterpreted unfavorableness for favorable outcomes that I hoped would come true. In hindsight, the misinterpretations contained some ambiguity to the situation, or some ambivalency within myself that I did not want to admit or to look at.

c) sometimes the I-Ching would ignore my question altogether. And instead, tell me what I really needed to know, even if I didn’t want to ask about a particular situation.

I found that consulting the I-Ching was the equivalent to accessing one’s inner wisdom, one’s higher self and the wisdom of the Cosmos, the Sage, or whatever higher power you believe or don’t believe exists in the Universe.

And because the I-Ching is the foundation of Taoism, with quite a bit of Confucian overlay in the Wilhelm edition, I started to read about the difference between these two ancient Chinese kinds of thought.

In a nutshell, Confucian thought values society over the individual and emphasizes the importance for the individual to be acceptable and recognized by the society in order to be worthwhile. In other words, you are defined only by the judgment and alliance with what others tell you to be or do. In some ways, I find Confucianism more like “Confuse-em ism” because who one becomes is interchangeable with what one thinks others expects of them, rather than being true to oneself. Importance in the community and what others think of you supercedes what you might want to be or do.

Taoism is the individual finding your own way–like Lao Tsu and the Tao te Ching writings in which whatever you do is to do nothing and to want nothing but to be yourself without attachment. Taoist hermits are reclusive and live in the moment for its own sake.

So, toeing the Tao is a way to describe letting one’s energy roam and attract like energy in synchronicity and serendipity. Something like the energy of writing about this here in today’s post.

Postscript: tonight, a new friend wrote to me about purchasing a book on the I-Ching and a number of other chance happenings, asking me what I thought the significance might be to them. My immediate reaction was to suggest that she learn how to consult the I-Ching hexagrams, and to utilize the events as a way of accessing this ancient book of wisdom. I hope that she will try it out. It is a good way to begin, and how it began for me years ago. So I wish her well. And you too.

how we met . . .


If my husband and I had met when we were younger, we wouldn’t have paid that much attention to each other. I was a goody-two-shoes dean’s list student at an ivy league school. At the same age, G. had hair down to his shoulders and played keyboard in a local rock band that is still well known in this town to this day.

We were both pianists: I started at the age of three, trained the Lechetiszky method by a renowned Russian pianist, Professor Basil Toutorsky (see basil toutorsky) who had 22 pianos in a mansion on 16th Street in Washington. G. was virtually self-taught, went to Berklee School of Music for awhile and played rock and roll, jazz and rhythm and blues. He didn’t get interested in classical music until he was in his 20’s and then shifted his interest to the complete works of a 19th century French composer named Charles Valentin Alkan. Alkan’s piano works are so difficult that very few pianists can play them. Marc Andre Hamelin, a Canadian pianist, has recorded most of his works. Recently Hamelin composed and recorded his own variations of Alkan’s compositions, if you can believe it.

This is all by way of describing how different and how similar we were at the same time. We both loved pianos. We courted to Alkan’s music played by Marc Andre Hamelin. And we met over a piano.

Although I loved the piano, my professional career was in the field of biotechnology (eggs in one basket). Offered a new job, I had just moved to central Massachusetts to a pristine modern condo facing the lake that ran through the town. When the movers put the piano in the living room, they attached the lyre which holds the pedals but forgot to tighten the surrounding hardware.

I looked in the Yellow Pages and found an ad with a handsome logo of a grand piano with the description, “Specializes in Steinways.” When G. arrived at the door of my new condo, I was distracted, on the phone with someone at the office. I was also not interested in getting involved with anyone, having just gotten divorced from my first husband whom I was married to for 26 years.

When we had a cup of tea after he adjusted the lyre, I said, “Let’s just be friends, okay?” He smiled and said, “We already are.” A few months later, I invited a pianist named Ken that I met at a gallery opening to give a piano recital at my house because I was new in town and thought it might be a good way to meet people. It turned out that Ken had been G’s client for over 20 years. The two fell busily to discussing and deciding what to do to improve my Steinway piano for the recital!

Long story short, the recital took place in May. I had put a deposit to buy the condo on the lake when G asked me to think about renting the 2nd floor apartment in his Queen Ann Victorian house. I thought about it for awhile and decided that if there was going to be a chance for a future between us, moving into the house would tell the tale. If it didn’t work out, I could always move somewhere else afterwards. He and his men helped me move out of the condo and got me settled into rooms with a view in the gorgeous house that he had restored for the past twenty years. During this time, an elderly woman who attended one of our piano groups commented enviously to me that living in two apartments a floor apart was ideal–independence and privacy along with the intimacy of being a footstep away from each other.

One day in August, a month after I had moved in, I walked hurriedly into the kitchen, my arms full of groceries. When I turned around, I gasped in surprise because there, in the living room, was a small vintage harpsichord with cherry keys and applied carving on the legs. To paraphrase what Renee Zellweger said to Tom Cruise in the movie “Show Me the Money”: “He had me at the harpsichord.”

We took our time and got to know each other for four years before we married. Once decided, we wanted to marry privately at City Hall, just the two of us. Flowers were delivered to the shop on the first floor of the house. Wedding rings were Fed-Exed from Tiffany’s. Downstairs, none of G’s workmen in the piano shop suspected a thing.

It was a snowy day and I called the Town Clerk to see if he was still there. We read our own vows and returned home; changed our clothes and still the guys were clueless. G. went out to tune a couple of pianos in the late afternoon while I cooked our wedding supper.

Later in the year, we threw a big party with a formal ceremony for family and friends on May 11th. The only way we could keep track of these two anniversaries was to remember that it was the 7th of March and the 11th of May or,. . . seven/eleven.

G had never married and I had been married for a quarter of a century to someone else by the time we met. Whenever I say to G. that I should have left my marriage earlier due to all the trials and tribulations, he quickly disagrees. He believes, and I concur, that had even one thing been different in our pasts, that we might not have met each other at all.

Timing is everything, it seems, even if it takes awhile. We just celebrated our fifteenth anniversary. Together with the four years we knew each other before we were married, we are going on being together for twenty years. Life is long, and we are grateful to share ours together.

serendipity and synchronicity. . .


I feel that serendipity and synchronicity have shaped my life to a large degree.

When my father decided at the last minute not to return to China right before the Cultural Revolution took hold, that was serendipitous. We had our shots, bags were packed, we were ready to go. Even though my grandfather accused him of being “disloyal” at the time and for years afterwards, my Dad made a life decision to stay in America and not to return to China. When I think about what my life would have been like, all I would have to do is look at my Chinese cousins’ lives, a generation whose future was stolen by the Red Guards. I might be wearing my hair in pigtails and growing cabbages. Or maybe I’d be online, writing a blog!

Without synchronicity, my lost dog wouldn’t have been found and my husband wouldn’t have found me (“life is long“). Seeing the first quartet of red cardinals was serendipity. Seeing a family of them in our rose arbor was synchronicity (“seeing red cardinals“).

Wikipedia (see links above) says that “serendipity” has been voted one of the ten hardest words to define. Maybe it’s one of those concepts where “you know it when you see it.”

How have serendipity and synchronicity touched your life?