happy thanksgiving!

I was telling some friends about my first Thanksgiving in the United States and thought I’d share it here (lucky you!).

Many moons ago, when I was seven years old, my family made the 25-day trek to the United States from India – yup, it took that long, basically because it was before the Wright Brothers were invented. It was late September when we finally landed in Kentucky. Was it worth the long journey? We’d better tackle that one in another blog (cough cough).

When November rolled around we were delighted with the changing season, something new to our monsoon or non- monsoon climate back in India. We had never heard of Thanksgiving either, so when someone knocked on our door, branding a hearty smile, and handed us a big, cold, hard, round thing, we had no idea what it was. We were the dot- not- the- feather kind of Indian, (oops Christopher Columbus) so naturally we said, “What is it?”

They said, “A turkey!”

Well that certainly cleared things up.

“What’s that?” we exclaimed wide-eyed, which had quickly become our plastered expression for the first several months in this new land.

“It’s like a really big chicken,” came the still smiling response.

Stranger and stranger. We knew what a chicken was, but this gigantic white ball didn’t resemble, in the slightest, the chickens running the streets of India or the ones we had bought at the market, still alive and kicking.

We accepted it as graciously as possible in our attempt to fit in and not rouse the natives of this new culture. No need to upset the neighbors. Remember what happened to the other Indians? (They lost their feathers).

My father heaved it into the kitchen and my mother got out the biggest knife we had. After hitting what looked and sounded like stone, she exasperated, “I can’t cut it!” 

“Let me see,” offered my dad. After a good go at it, not even a molecule he could extract from its impenetrable bulk.

He bravely went to the neighbor and conceded, “We can’t cut it.”

“Take it to the grocery store. They can cut it for you!” came the ever cheerful answer. These people seem so happy.

So off my dad went. The “grocery store” was nothing like the bustling, colorful, pungent marketplace in India, as I would discover later.

I’m sure the clerk in the meat department was a bit puzzled when my dad handed him this huge frozen turkey, asking for it to be cut. He must have scratched his head and thought a few “foreigner” thoughts. He did, however, in his good worker attitude (those were the days, right?) continue to fulfill this request, as best he could.

He placed it on a giant slicer and moved the blade back and forth. Eventually, his act of great faith and the-customer-is-always-right disposition, produced a humongous pile of shaved frozen turkey – don’t ask me how he managed to miss the bones, or did he? My dad proudly carried the success of his venture home.

“What’s this?” inquired my mom.

“The turkey thing – I got it cut up.” What else could he say?

“OK then,” she retorted. (What she actually said in Hindi doesn’t translate well, at least for a PG-13 audience.)

She dutifully dumped it all into a big pot with her special blend of spices normally used to make chicken curry. We all hoped for the best.

After an interesting meal, I can only say that I did not learn the primary impetus of this new American holiday – to be thankful. However, I did learn to hate turkey. And so did the rest of my family.

Happy Thanksgiving, everybody!

Merry Solstice Hanukkah Kwanzaa Christmas!

My daughter and granddaughter

 

What a year! This has for sure been a time of big changes! With more alone time this year I gave some thought to what value all this was bringing into my life. The resulting response filtered into my consciousness sometimes subtly, sometimes dramatically, and sometimes not in the absence of my own cynicism and criticism.

But thankfully, the echoes of my own heart revealed a growing peace and confidence cultivated by that radical claim stamped on my forehead:  Everything will work out!

A maturation of awareness of how good each moment I have on this planet is, found me more passionate in writing or speaking aloud my daily gratitudes. The joy of simple things, like a pair of ravens slipping through the sunlight or a deer munching on a pumpkin’s face, took on new dimensions of wonder, beauty, and pleasure.

 

I laughed more, I dreamed more, I chilled more. I looked into the face of uncertainties with hope and revelry… what else can we do? The worries and insecurities were a part of the mix for sure, and I came to accept them as benign catalysts for a step into deeper trust in myself and universal energies whereby I co-create my reality.

 

It wasn’t always easy and I gave myself lots of permission to flail in my attempts to gracefully embrace the unknown. Standing on the edge of potential crises and life-changing events also gave rise to the expedient need within me to not hold back on saying what I really mean, not delay what my heart is calling for,  and especially not postpone joy.

 

As I glance back over my shoulder it seems I have traveled a bit farther down the road of self-love, trusting the goodness of life, and honoring my needs and desires.
Now as we stand before the gateway of a new year, I feel that many of our hopes are coming to fruition:  a vaccine; a safe place for people of all colors, races, and genders to relax into who they truly are; a deepening love for those we care about, etc.

 

My hope for you is that you will let your heart speak its deepest truths to you, and the sweet notes of that music will be your guiding light; and the power that each moment of the new year is vibrating with will easily find its way to your consciousness, like blossoms in the midst of winter.

 

Sending you warm wishes for a beautiful holiday season, and the sweetness of new horizons in the coming year!

 

I especially send my heart out to any of you who may have lost a loved one this year, or in prior years. I wrote a song for a friend of mine who lost his mom, and I’d like to share it with you. Click on this link if you’d like to hear it:   https://youtu.be/bJ3bqvkh9TE

the power of peace

The tumultuous world
Will always blow us
This way and that
With lies that birth prophets

Who stand tall
Because the winds
Make them
Live strong in their truth

Sometimes i feel like
The crickets and aspens
Who sing with the purity
Of their whole bodies

It’s the small truth
I offer the world
And
It’s my refuge

Like walking thru the halcyon
Of autumn
These fleeting weeks
When the sky shows her true heart

Lifting the veil to a dazzling sapphire
Enchanted with fairy dust and gold
Sudden scarlet piercing
The embracing blue

And i
Breathing the peace
Of feeling
Soft amber under my feet

The gentle coppery drift
Of changing seasons
Like promises
Rustling to become

Truth

-Shashi Light

sail on

the sail time travels on
shrinks and us smaller still
in the wake of sky-filled luminous canvas

you ride
with newgrace
newonder
newelation

Let us learn from you
to embrace what
time grants us

to hold what we touch
in reverence for what
it will grow within us

perhaps
that’s why we’re here

the seen and unseen
cannot separate worlds
they feed each other

shall we not mistake pain
for obstacles
and medals for self-worth

neither will reward
our great Consciousness
rising and thriving
when we seek the path
of self-realization

only with eye unblemished
by transient standards
of men and women

my hands cannot catch
the sparkle you sail on
bouncing from your unfettered heart

But I keep it
in a teaching place
so my mind will not forget
the unseen that grows inside me

and not regret
what escapes to less than dust someday

but eternel inside me

 

by Shashi Light
for Phil Emmanuel

Image by Maya Mendoza

Juneteenth

Several years ago, when I was living in LA, I was going home after an event downtown and it was late – probably around midnight. I had parked in a parking garage that only took cash. I realized that I didn’t have any, as I got in the parking garage elevator. It stopped at the next level and four big, very tall Black guys got in. As the elevator gently hummed the five of us up, I thought, well I could choose to be scared right now, but instead I said, “Do any of you have any cash? I don’t have any to pay for parking here.” All of them reached for their wallets and handed me money. I gratefully took what I needed and smiled and wished them a great night as I stepped off the elevator. (Just to be clear… I’m not insinuating that the color of their skin was cause for apprehension. Any woman alone in downtown LA late at night might be concerned when surrounded by four men of any variety she didn’t know.)

Yesterday I had the privilege of participating in a peaceful march. It felt so good to be a part of this pivotal point in the history of the world where things are changing, people are understanding what equality really means, people are seeing that a lot can be done to move towards real equality for Blacks, all over the world: economically, socially, politically, judicially, in the job market, in healthcare, and especially in our hearts.

Do something especially kind to/for Blacks at this crucial time when every voice needs to be heard.

love heals

I want to share some thoughts that have been rolling around in my head over the last several days. First of all, my heart goes out to any of you who may be dealing with illness caused by COVID-19 or have a loved one who is.  It is a fearful thing to face the unknown when your life depends on it, possibly.  I am sure social media and the press have caused undue stress and fear when this is a time to not panic, as panic blurs good judgment, leading to bad decisions.

I’m the type of person who tries to look for the what might be gained from “negative” occurrences. I’m noticing that this situation has brought me back to focusing on what is really important to me.  I’m reaching out to friends and they to me, to check in, to say, “Hey, I’m thinking about you,” to communicate appreciation and gratitude for their love and friendship. I’m offering items to friends and they are reciprocating with like generosity, as many of you are. I’m reawakening to what each moment’s highest priority really is to me. I’m savoring each conversation I have, and not letting a chance to laugh or smile or speak kindly pass me by. I’m able to be more patient with myself and others.  I’m so grateful we have the means to communicate with those who are quarantined.

Lastly, I want to say “THANKS to everyone in the medical profession who are arduously working to care for the extra load of patients, executing mass testings, and doing whatever pssible to ensure our well-being.

And I am grateful for you, my friends! We are all in this together and we have hope, courage, and compassion to see us through! Sending love and good vibes to you all!

happy reindeer

A couple of weeks ago as I was leaving the grocery store, rolling my cart through the foyer, I saw a small group of people huddled together in a corner. Then I heard a pitch pipe and the 13 or so of them opened their mouths and out came a magical sound of four-part acapella harmony, in the sweetest tones I’d heard in a long while.

I was amazed those sounds found their way to me so clearly and unscathed, zigzagging across the stream of people and carts parading by, automatic doors swishing open and shut, the chatter in the air - and yet from the far corner, beautiful waves of vibration flowed undaunted to my happy ears. I stood there, one hand on my cart, trying to be unobstructive to the flow of busy shoppers. I stood and let the sound fill my heart with its gentle harmonies. I stood and thought how these smiling faces gave up their Saturday afternoon – when last minute Christmas to-do’s could easily have commanded their day – but here they were, bringing their talents and hours of practice to people scurrying past.
A couple of other carts paused. People smiled and clapped and moved on. I stood and let their sweeping highs and lows bathe me, caress me, tender me. Tears filled my eyes. I thought of the kindnesses that permeate the world, moment by moment, person by person – small things that touch deeply and big things that change lives.
The sun was streaming brightly through the sliding glass doors as I finally pushed my cart out into the crisp solstice air, the big blue sky rising above the distant snow-dotted mountains, and my car ready with the remaining things on my list. I breathed deeply as I unloaded the cart, carrying those magical notes in my pockets. What a beautiful world we live in!
Wishing you many magical moments as we pause to let this special season renew our spirits, hearts, and minds. And may the new year bring you sweet winds to sail on, green forests to meander through, mysterious caves to spy into, delicious foods to devour, laughter with friends, sun rises to sleep through, sunsets to soak in, soul-feeding music, new hearts to love, great memories to cherish, and brilliant ideas to carve into reality!
Wishing you the best year ever!
With love,
Shashi Light
Image property of Shashi Light

a sweet season

here it is … a new season
a slowing down to count blessings, smell harvests, gaze at the pregnant moon

to light fires and entertain friends, make plans for the new year
to think of celebrations, start new traditions, welcome new ideas
to reminisce over the busy summer
and catch all those pieces of gold that slipped past our hurriedness
to find ourselves whole again after a scattering of energy
to reap wisdom from mistakes
to slow our anger and gift the freedom forgiveness grants the giver

to remember the miracle of molecules flowing through our holy bodies carrying
sweet sustenance of physical beingness to our grateful bones and happy blood
to watch canopies of ambers turn to gold, and greens to crimson
against the deepening sapphire blue of october sky
to take in the crackling scent of faded leaves under our feet
to measure the worth of friendships
an impossible task but musing over it just the same
to gather the goodness of belly laughs and sincere smiles,

gentle listening, healing words, kind hugs, home-made music and tea
a soft blanket
morning sunbeams to chase the chill


a sweet season indeed

 

All images property of Shashi Light.

this special season

I woke up on December 24th and looked out my window and spied a large female deer in my neighbor’s yard, lazily munching on remnants of summer’s plethora of green grass. Soon there came into view a young buck, followed by two young female deer. I smiled at their comfortable grazing, feeling safe together, feeling the goodness of life in every sweet blade of grass. Not planning or calculating or checking off lists, like I had been doing - just enjoying the sun against the cool winter air on their greyish-tan backs accented by short, white-lined tails. I stood at my window in my PJs, soaking in the peace they emanated, smiling at my good fortune to have this beautiful sight grace my early day. (I took the picture above, this summer in Los Alamos, NM.)

I had been thinking about the upcoming year and what adventures planned or unexpected might await me. I had also been contemplating the many incredibly wonderful things that have filled this past year, and how simple day-to-day living has taught me so much. I had been thinking about, as I’ve been doing the eight-to-five thing, how unnatural it feels to spend my days in an office in front of a computer, because I’d much rather be singing, dancing, writing, running through a meadow of daisies (yes, I’m that poster child).
Then I realized that no matter what I’m doing, whether it’s sweeping the floor or performing at Carnegie Hall, I can be in a state of complete joy, just like those deer, accepting life as good and satisfying at any given moment. Actually, I didn’t just realize this, it’s been an interesting theory I’ve been rolling around in my head for many moons. But the proof has been showing up in my life more this year than ever before. I take time to breathe deeply when I feel irritated, I see myself more clearly through the eyes of love, I ease into forgiveness much more quickly and easily than before, I understand that my imperfections are just places for me to grow, I don’t insist on being right, I allow my vulnerabilities to show, I don’t have to be in control because I know that ultimately I do have a lot of control over who I am. . . so many cool things that I’m learning from dealing with people and expectations so different from me.
I think one of the most significant things I’ve been learning about is listening to my feelings and being honest to myself about them. It sounds like a simple thing but I have often not done that from ignorance or fear or shame. And now from that honest place, I feel the power of well-being, because that’s where change begins – from self-awareness. At least, for me, it’s been a sweet path of growth and self-love.
Wishing for you simple pleasures to fill up your moments and years, and sweet realizations of self-love. Isn’t it nice to have a special time of year to express the love we hold in our hearts? May 2019 hold many sweet wonders for you!
With Love,
Shashi