Monday, July 14, 2008


On my other blog Hamida the Herbalist, I feature an issue of the week. The issue this week is Gratitude.

I found myself writing quite a bit about this, so this time, I moved the comments here and kept the flower essences there.

Let me begin with a personal account. I had to go to Tiburon yesterday to pick up some items at the Wooden Boat Show for a friend who is out of the country. Lately, I have been staying home more than usual for a number of reasons: 1) I am conserving on gasoline; 2) I don't like driving much anymore; and 3) I am busy and content at home doing what I'm doing. It was around 120 miles round trip and it was a beautiful day. I figured since I was out, I might do some window shopping and maybe 'hang out' in Tiburon - a high-end place with 'cute' boutiques etc. But I found that when I looked around, there was nothing there that interested me. In fact, all I could think of was getting back home. I looked at all the people on the street and nothing pulled me. I was not attracted to the scene. In fact, what I saw felt empty and meaningless, whereas my home felt alive and full of magical possibilities.

As I was driving back, as fast as I could get away with, I saw all the traffic, bumper to bumper going south back to San Francisco and the peninsula and I thought to myself, as I often do, these people spend their week commuting to work, then their 'days off' driving around looking for amusement and distraction. Do they ever 'stay home'? Why not? This led to the next set of thoughts which was that staying home, staying put is considered not cool or interesting when there's so much to see and do out there.

So I asked the questions: What's wrong with what you have? Don't you enjoy it? Why keep looking out there for more, different, new? Will any of it ever be enough? Many years ago, I did some research on the phenomenon of dissatisfaction that is so strong in the modern world. Why this constant need for more etc. I read a lot about the role advertising plays in making us feel that what we are or have is not enough. We are too fat, too ugly, too old, too stupid or whatever... so we need....this or that. It goes on and on. It is endless. I came upon a book that was a revelation because it talked about how the government funded research in the mid-30s, as the Depression was waning, to find out how to 'jump-start' the economy again. They needed to get people to spend money again. After the failure of the banks, people lost confidence. After going through the Depression, many people had learned to be frugal and do without. People didn't want to spend money as freely as they had before.They wanted to hang on to it. Now, the government wanted to stimulate industry and get people to spend again. A report came out that showed how psychology could be used via advertising, to make people want things, by creating dissatisfaction in their minds about themselves and their lives.

As with many other things that start out benign, but become malignant, the program was extremely successful and has led to the uncontrolled consumerism of today. We are trained to be dissatisfied from birth. It is normal for a child or even (especially) a cat to be considered a 'fussy eater'. Are there any fussy eaters in a drought-ridden African country?

Dissatisfaction is considered so normal in the modern world that, in fact, satisfaction is 1) considered unattainable or 2) considered a sign of stupidity or backwardness.

Shopping has become a recreational activity, whereas before, it was a way to get necessities. All of us have more than we need. But NEED has been redefined to include things that make us happy, things that make us feel good. It is an endless process because in order to be okay, we need the latest electronic device, hairdo, handbag, chocolate truffle etc. On and on. We are never content with what is. How would our lives be different if we were satisfied?

What if we said to ourselves every day, I have everything I need. I am content with myself and my life. To me, this is the basis of gratitude.

For flower essences that can help with Gratitude, see my other blog:

Interestingly, as I was doing my daily 'drop' routine, I came across Michael Nolan's blog Frugal Living Tip of the Day which is Thankfulness
Find it at:

Sunday, July 13, 2008

So Now For the Bucket

Took this test and was surprised, since I have not exactly been, nor am I now, a saint. Since I didn't expect to live this long (60), I'm wondering how it will be to live another 27 years.

I am going to die at 87.  When are you? Click here to find out!

Do you want to know? What difference would it make?

In 1970 or so I remember wishing on a star. I wanted to know how my life would turn out, what I would do etc. I actually got an answer. The star said, "What would you do if your knew? Would it change what you are doing now? If yes, then change it anyway, without knowing. If no, then all is well and you are where you need to be.

At that moment the answer was "No" since all was well at that time.

I have always used 'Death as an Advisor' after reading Carlos Castaneda's first book, The Teachings of Don Juan, which came out while I was working on my B.A. in Anthropology. I was actually studying Mesoamerica - a term anthropologists coined for a culture area which spanned the U.S. Southwest down to the northern part of Central America. Like others in my generation, the book intrigued me and I got the bug to study Shamanism.

When I did, I realized that Shamanism as it relates to a particular group of people, is rooted in history, language, geography, culture and ancestry. Traditionally, shamans, healers, or other holy people, were chosen by their community. No one in their right mind would walk in and say they wanted to be one. And, no amount of money could buy you the job.

For me, it was impossible to become a Huichol shaman. I might become a Sicilian one (if such a thing existed - Ha! Ha! or a Ukrainian or Polish one - also part of my ancestry).

Since one one my goals in life was to have a happy death, periodically I would look around at my life and ask myself, "If I died right now, would I have a happy death?"

If the answer was NO then time for a change. If YES, then I kept doing what I was doing.

Since it looks like I've got another 27 years, I think I better look around at my current life and answer the question once again.