Full Moon Medicine Meditation

18 April 2022

Full Moon Medicine Mandala. May the full moon bless all medicines & medical equipment, and the hands that use them to relieve & heal all sentient beings.

This recent full moon observation on 14 April 2022 was extra special to me. Not only it was Good Friday, but it also marked New Year for friends of Nepalese and Khmer heritage.

The confluence of the above high holidays got me on the lookout for auspicious items that would align with the idea of death & resurrection, release & renewal to dedicate a full moon mandala.

However, the reality was eversince Emmanuel the Cat was diagnosed with diabetes a month ago, I’ve been preoccupied with syringes, insulin vial & blood glucose tracking.

As someone with a nervous disposition, I was at first terrified of handling the sharp needles and getting the dosage wrong for Emmanuel. This was apart from having to locate the injection site without making the cat suspicious & without injecting myself accidentally.

Emmanuel has been listening to Medicine Buddha mantra & receiving insulin shots twice daily.

It got to a point where my anxiety levels were tied to the fluctuations in Emmanuel’s blood glucose readings.

Doubts filled my waking hours and even in my sleep. Did I really insert the needle correctly? Did the insulin go under his skin? Did I over feed him?

Yesterday I had a mental breakthrough of sorts. I realised I can and should medicate my 15-year old cat to the best of my ability & means, but the medical outcomes are not mine to decide.

That acceptance also liberates me as a caregiver from the fear of not doing enough or not doing it right. Such fears when left unchecked, can turn mean & morph into accusations against the patient for not trying hard enough to get well.

And this morning, as if to show his approval of my approach to his medical issue, Emmanuel turned around to lick my hand as soon as I pushed the plunger to deliver the insulin under his skin. 🙏

Grace under Pressure

11 April 2022

My little Kitty Hawk loved lying under the picture of Mother Mary and Baby Jesus.

A young girl harboured a mixture of hatred and pity for a bad tempered older sibling who would hit her regularly.

At the time when we met, she was seeing a counsellor. Her family dynamics were also volatile.

As she ranted on, I realised she not only needed protection from her brother’s beatings, but also from her own fears & what she might do to him. She was an alert and well built girl whom I believed would have no problem picking up a sharp object and plunging it into her attacker if she was provoked beyond her tolerance.

After learning that she could recite the “Hail Mary,” prayer by heart, I asked if she would consider invoking Mother Mary’s help as soon as she sensed a conflict brewing.

I explained to her that some things in life are beyond logic, and there is a limit to what external intervention can do for us. Prayers are needed to do the inner work of calming hearts and deflecting blows.

Shortly after that, the girl told me that one weekend her older sibling was having a meltdown again.

This time instead of feeling scared and anticipating a fight as he moved towards her, she just looked at him and recited “Hail Mary” silently.

“My brother was walking towards me when he suddenly stopped, turned and left my room ,” the girl narrated the episode with a mixture of awe & gratitude.

Sister & brother would also begin talking after that encounter.

To some, the girl’s offering of a prayer to diffuse a potentially explosive situation could have been coincidental, but the benefit of knowing that there are other ways of facing difficulties in life besides hating those who cause us pain, must have been such a relief for that young lady.

Yesterday was Palm Sunday and in a few days’ time it’ll be Good Friday. On this day the mother of Jesus would witness attacks on her son. This may be why the memory of a young girl invoking the help of Mother Mary has come to me, for they are quintessential examples of grace under pressure.

May all who suffer from war, sickness & separation be delivered from fears & pain. And may all who engage in hurt & harm be touched by grace & awakened by wisdom.🙏

May the Divine Mother come into our midst to comfort us during wars, sickness & separation. ❤️

Centering


29 March 2022

Last week, one of my cats, Emmanuel, was admitted for diabetes. His conditions have since stabilised and will be discharged soon.

Waiting for the vet to see Emmanuel last Thursday. It had been a tense week.

Since March last year, Emmanuel & Oliver have been waking me up at all kinds of hours through their daily territorial disputes.

Sleep deprived & anxiety-ridden, I wandered the mall last Friday in hope of getting a new cat carrier for Emmanuel’s follow up vet trips as the current one has rusted and is being held together by cable ties.

Emmanuel is 15. Oliver is 16. Both cats are as healthy as can be given their age. But realistic as I am, signs of ill health trigger memories of the suffering of my 10 cats and 1 dog before they passed on over the years. And in Emmanuel’s case, concerns over if I can administer the twice daily insulin jabs occupied my mind.

In the midst of meditating on syringes, the image of the world’s largest mandala, the Boudha Stupa came to me. I was gently reminded to unfetter my mind by accepting all things.

World Mandala of Peace, Boudha Stupa during pavement repairment work in 2019.

And as I was about to pick up the new cat carrier & head home, a friend texted to ask if we could meet up for tea.

Tea? How could I have time for tea? Don’t you know I’m in the midst of a meltdown? But I resisted my self-centered habitual responses and said “Yes” to tea. And yes, worrying is so dangerously seductive. It gives a false impression of feeling responsible even as it keeps the worrier fixated & drained.

During tea, my friend found out that his evening appointment had been postponed. Since I had no plans except to worry, I accepted his invitation to see the art space he had set up to pursue his pottery passions.

Still thinking of syringes, I was content to just watch my friend at the studio throwing a pot on his newly acquired potter’s wheel.

But he being generous, insisted that I gave the clay a go. He would help me touch up the final product if needed.

And so on Friday evening, while my cat received intravenous fluid at the clinic, I sat at the potter’s wheel in my friend’s studio to connect with the silkiness of wet clay and the coolness of water as I attempted to throw a pot for the first time in 36 years.

Touching earth to feel grounded.

As I leaned my elbows on the basin for added stability as taught by my friend, and held the lump of clay firmly in both hands, my breath returned. A centering peace soon emerged from the spinning mandala of a potter’s wheel. It seeped into my fingers, travelled up my arms, touched my shoulder & ascended my head through my neck.

My Bowl of Acceptance

And in that moment, my mind was still even as everything before me was in motion. Sitting at my friend’s potter’s wheel was the break I needed to be unhinged from the cycle of constant worrying & feeling of inadequacy.

I wish all who are reading this post timely inspiration from the Divine and supervision of wise friends in your hour of need.🙏

Permission to Purchase Less

22-3-22

On the first full moon of the Year of the Tiger, a new supermarket opened one unit away from the tuition centre where I work.

Heritage Supermarket Opened on the first Full Moon of the Year of the Tiger.

Heritage, as the supermarket is named, is a paradise of instant massala tea of my favourite brand, spices that evoke memories of my first & only Indian neighbour from my childhood, and lentils of every colour and size.

But most of all, this little supermarket unlike its larger competitors, allows customers to buy their potatos, tomatoes, onions etc in small quantities.

The Heritage cashier plucked a sprig of curry leaves from a bunch of fresh ones to add to the items I bought.

Big grocery stores pre-pack perishable goods to prevent customers from damaging them. This practice also drives sale and gets rid of stocks fast. However, pre-packing of fixed quantities can also cause customers to buy more than they need and eat more than they should, while leading to food wastage when expiry dates dawn.

It is perhaps not enough to harp on food wastage while others starve, and expect our relationship with food to improve when packing & unit measurement practices to justify costs to consumers are not taken into account.

Also food wastage for me is a kind of disrespect shown to natural resources & the human labour behind their cultivation.

Whenever I’m required to buy 6 carrots instead of 2 at bigger supermarkets, the cash strapped person who can really only afford to pay for 2 comes to mind.

Thus I’m grateful to all the little supermarkets and provision shops that allow me to buy just what I need. In return, I will handle their produce with care and promise not to quibble over prices.

May Goddess Laskhmi bestow great prosperity on the proprietors of Heritage and small businesses, so that nobody goes hungry and nothing is wasted.

A small slow cooker I bought last year and the opening of Heritage this year have revive my interest in lentil soup making.

Happy International Women’s Day!

8 March 2022

Women Past & Present

Yesterday I completed a recommendation letter for a young girl applying for a summer programme in one of the Ivy League universities. Given her impressive academic credentials & balanced disposition , I think she’ll be accepted regardless of what I wrote.

Nonetheless, when I recalled the limited options available to girls & women of my grandmother’s generation, I wrote that letter with extra care & gratitude for this young girl who was born a 100 years after my grandmother.

This matriarch is in her 80s. She shares the same surname as my grandmother. She’s been through war, hidden in bunkers, raised 10 children and now continues to host friends and visitors in her 400 year old ancestral home. Her well kept wedding picture taken when she was 17 is a testament of her tenderness and tenacity.
(Kinmen Island 2019)

So my wish on International Women’s Day is for all female children to be raised fairly & firmly, so that they can determine the trajectory of their lives with tenderness & tenacity.

For it is easier to build a well-adjusted child, than to fix a broken adult.

This precious little girl stands proudly in her school uniform. I was once her age too. (Nepal, 2013)

Family Tree

3-2-22

One of our black cats used to climb on these branches and increased his endearment quotient with my first & second uncle one million times.

My dad grafted this Chiku Tree, and my grandpa attended to her while she was taking root.

Come Lunar New Year, my youngest uncle prunes her to renew her, and my mother and her sisters dress her in red khata and red lanterns to celebrate Life.

Being in the backyard & surrounded by forgotten articles have not diminished the Chiku Tree’s significance in our family one bit. .

Over the years this Tree has given many of her fruits, enough for the birds and humans to enjoy. There is no conflict. Cats file their claws on her trunk & branches. There is no complaint.

On New Year’s day, my brother pointed out the budding shoots that were emerging from the nodes on branches.

Budding shoots to welcome Spring.

I sat under her newly trimmed branches to speak to my dad and my grandparents, and to thank the Chiku Tree for staying alive so that our family members may gather under her numerous loving arms year after year.

The peace found under a tree is available to everyone regardless of economic status.

A Sweet Reunion

2-2-2022

First Tutee and his uncle meet Ollie for the first time in 2 years today. (2-2-2022)

First Tutee and his uncle dropped by with Nasi Lemak today to wish me Happy Chinese New Year.

First Tutee is now nearly 11 years old, as tall as me and seeing Ollie for the first time since 2020.

Pleased that Ollie still remembered him, and that the scene outside the window where he used to sit to practise his spelling and writing, had remained unchanged, he gushed shyly about spotting his childhood sweets on my dining table.

First Tutee’s childhood sweets, White Rabbit.

I asked him to help himself to the White Rabbit Milk Candy pieces. I had prepared a new bag of them for him to bring home later on.

As he unwrapped the candy, he mentioned several times that White Rabbits were his favourite childhood sweets and that he was also born in the Year of the Rabbit.

First Tutee’s delight at seeing Ollie and recalling the names of Hakim, Kitty & China Black who have since passed on, his smiling at the sweets of his childhood and feeling right at ease in a space where he started his preparation to enter primary school showed me a reunion doesn’t always have to revolve around a big meal.

First Tutee with Kitty in 2018.

Food & drinks aside, a reunion is also about returning to the people & place that make us feel supported.

Same cane chairs, different occupiers. First Tutee is now going on 11. (2-2-22)

And if reunions are meant to evoke memories to embolden us to move forward, then it is wise that during that encounter we refrain from fishing for details in someone else’s personal life unless they are offered on their own accord.

Going home for reunions is such a big deal across cultures & evokes many conflicting emotions in some. May each reunion be a time of reconciliation and mutual support like the one that took place with First Tutee today.

Feeding Ollie his favourite snack.

Lunar New Year Ease

02-02-2022

Over the years visiting the temple of my childhood on the first day of Lunar New Year has gained significance for me.

With the painted temple guardian since I was 5. (1-2-22)

The familiar aroma of incense, dancing flames from red candles, bold calligraphy in red or gold welcome me.

And despite their silence, the temple guardians painted on red doors tell me I’m home.

With the other painted temple guardian. (1-2-22)

Relating to things is easier than relating to people for me because the former encourages contemplation while the latter depends on listening skills of both parties.

Greeting the Tiger deities on the New Year of the Tiger. (1-2-22)

With people, I have to tread cautiously lest any comment or question on my part sow the seed of discord or open a floodgate of criticisms and complaints.

My brother took this picture of me standing under the Chiku Tree planted by our late dad. The tree is still going strong because it’s being cared for by many all these years. (1-2-22)

Perhaps that is one of the reasons why taking pictures to capture moments of affection whether it’s with a door, a tree or a human being mean so much to me.

My cousin Michelle and I took our first picture at this door when she was just 8 years old. For the past few years we had been doing this obligatory Chinese New Year pose. I hope we can keep taking pictures to capture this moment of affection between 2 cousins from different generations for as long as possible. (1-2-22)

“Know Your Role!”

14-1-22

Getting in and out of a vehicle for me require a certain level of coordination & focus.

One day I hailed a cab along the road. When the cab driver slowed down for me, the bus driver behind us sounded the horn while I tried to get onto the cab as swiftly as possible.

In the calm cocoon of his seat, the thin & bespectacled driver with his praying mantis liked arms must have picked up my panic of not being fast enough and getting in the way of the bus.

“Miss, please take your time and get onto my cab safely,” the cab driver alerted me authoritatively even as the horn continued to blare.

As he drove on, he continued, “We all have our jobs to do. Your job is to get on my cab safely. My job is to take you to your destination safely. If the bus driver can’t wait & decides to blast his horn it is his right to do so. And maybe he’s in a bad mood. But you don’t have to let the sound make you frighten & lose your balance, and I musn’t drive recklessly because I’m irritated by the driver.”

Last week the young boys at the tuition centre asked me if I knew who The Rock was. It was their way of checking if someone of their grandmother’s generation knew anything about their interests.

“Know Your Role!” –
The Rock ( Dwayne Johnson)

To their amusement, I not only could tell them The Rock’s real name but also put on one of his signature poses. One boy chortled admiringly when I bellowed The Rock’s famous slogan , “Know Your Role!” 😂

Recalling The Rock’s, “Know Your Role,” brought back memories of the cab driver’s insightful lesson on what doing our job, fulfilling responsibilities & expressing our rights can mean.

So regardless of how long it takes or how hard it is, if it’s a path that we’ve chosen and a role we’ve taken on, we must play it out faithfully, even if someone else’s role is to specialise in derailing us by placing obstacles in our way.

Hand-dyed Eggs

12-1-22

Birthday gifts from my 78 year old mother on my 58th birthday.

My mother was 20 years old when I was born. She is now 78 years old.

This morning she dropped by to give me a red packet and 2 red eggs to wish me happy birthday. According to the lunar calendar, today is my Chinese birthday.

Besides the red eggs, my mother also gave me a plant.

I took a few pictures of the hand dyed eggs and gave thanks for my mother who is hale & hearty even as I turn 58.

So here’s to many more hand dyed eggs to come, as I wish my mother and all mothers a happy & healthy life.