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Showing posts from 2016

Beryl's 2006 Summer Newsletter

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August 31, 2016 Four Weeks after Surgery While I was on a white water rafting trip with beloved Minnesota author Carol Bly, she happened to mention that she loathed cameras. Writers should be seeing, not taking photos, she reminded me. This comforts me because while I might have missed the opportunity to digitally record the glorious abundance of roadside wild flowers that graced northern Minnesota this year, I recorded them mentally. Golden birds-eye trefoil banked the roadsides. White daisies merged with thick swaths lupines in pink, purple and yellow. Black-eyed Susan, lacy cow parsnip, and bright orange and yellow hawk weed stippled the landscape turning every walk or journey into a fragrant, hopeful flowering of life. If you enjoy looking as well as recording perhaps you find yourself wondering, as do I, if our cement cities -- where so much suffering lurks behind walls of prejudice and fear -- could be transformed into places of compassion and empathy if more gardens and green …

Don't miss this book

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Kristin Hannah has given us one of the most powerful stories of heroism and love that I have ever read. The Nightingale captures the often untold stories of the French Resistance movement. The ordinary people who moved beyond terror to protect and save from the Nazi's a nation's honor and the qualities that make humans capable of true greatness.

The Artistry of the Japanese Tattoo in exhibition

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In 1993, my sixteen-year-old daughter Francesca acquired a tattoo without telling me. I thought she was simply spending the weekend with a girlfriend when it was actually a mutiny of sorts.  
“Fran, what have you done?” I gasped.  “I knew you’d never give me permission and Kelly was getting one. So . . .” her voice trailed off but she didn’t drop her eyes.  “What is it anyway?” She told me it was a rose but it looked more like a dragon to me, smoking its way toward her knee.   “You realize you’ve marked yourself for life?” Francesca nodded, a smile lurking at the edge of her mouth. 
Not long after, Francesca’s older brother Thomas had both his arms tattooed. At the time it scandalized my relatives, friends, and acquaintances. Twenty years later not a day passes without my noting young people and even elders flaunting tattoos that extended up arms and legs to the neck and ears.
On February 25, 2016 I gained a greater appreciation of tattoos when an exhibition at the Morikami Museum a…

Street Painting in Lake Worth Florida

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This past Saturday, my husband and I attended the Street Painting Festival in Lake Worth Florida for the first time. It was crowded and noisy and brilliant. Though many of the artists were still in the process of finishing their works of art, it was fascinating to watch the process. They worked from detailed images, often checking the sidewalk art with the image they already developed. They sat, the  squatted, they lay on their stomachs, careful always to avoid the already finished portions of their work. There were too many to photo all of them but here are some of my favorites. By the way, this was not a competition but a celebration. No prizes just delight.






Snowshoeing on the Superior Hiking Trail

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I miss winter. I miss the hush of  winter mornings, the soft lavender shadows the sun casts on a landscape of wind-driven snow. I miss the chickadees that cluster on our deck, awaiting their turn at the feeder. Such polite little fellows they are, hopping on the feeder to fetch a black-oil sunflower seed and immediately flitting away to crack and eat it. 
 Photo by Kathleen Anderson-Gray
I especially miss snowshoeing on Minnesota’s Superior Hiking Trail, a 310 footpath that runs from south of Duluth to the Canadian Border. Easily accessed in any season from our house, the trail in winter was always an adventure, especially when fresh snow offers a glimpse into another world. Then the journey through the deep woods becomes a constant discovery … the tracks of snowshoe rabbits, red squirrels, pine martin, and sometimes moose and wolf the only sign of passage besides the tracks our shoes make. 
Kathleen Anderson-Gray is a North Shore friend who sends a daily photo she’s just taken. I can…

Free on Kindle, A Perfect Love Story for Valentines Day

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The Scent of God by Beryl Singleton Bissell, free download February 13 and 14.
Click the  link.

A Review of The Yoga of Max's Discontent by Karan Bajaj

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Based on bestselling novelist and spiritual teacher Karan Bajaj’s own experience, The Tao of Max’s Discontent, takes the reader on a breathtaking and often brutal journey in search of spiritual transformation—the dissolution of one’s sense of self and union with universal (or divine) consciousness.

Bajaj’s giant-sized protagonist Max Pzoras, shaken by his mother’s untimely death from cancer at the age of forty-nine encounters Viveka, a scantily clad East Indian food-cart seller whose experience living among yogis 20,000 feet high in the Himalayas intrigues him. Driven to make sense of his life and to attain what Viveka explains as the “un-born, un-aging, un-ailing, sorrowless, and deathless state” of immortality Max begins to investigate such a journey. 
When he learns of a South American yogi living high up in the Himalayas who teaches a method of yoga that leads to the end of suffering, Max impetuously leaves his job to seek this yogi. 

Gripped already by Bajaj’s gift as a story teller…

A Review: Dog Medicine: How a Dog Saved Me from Myself

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Chances are most Americans know someone suffering with depression or have grappled with it themselves. Julie Barton, a bright and talented young woman on the cusp of a successful career in publishing, woke one morning on her kitchen floor, the room filled with smoke from the meal she’d been preparing the night before when she lost consciousness. Terrified, she crawled to the phone and called her mother, convinced she’d had a nervous breakdown. Thus begins Barton’s powerful depiction of the catastrophic depression that unraveled her life until an adopted puppy called Bunker released the love that would eventually help her heal. Behind Barton’s depression lurked memories of the violent physical and verbal abuse to which her older brother subjected her and which her parents failed to address. Convinced she was the stupid ugly loser he said she was, she thought of herself in those terms and continually berated herself with those words. Caring for Bunker, however, taught her to forgive and…

Don't pick it up. It might be a snake.

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Today, the first completely sunny comparatively warm day, my husband rode his bike through Okeeheelee Park in West Palm Beach Florida, while I walked the exercise course several times. I’d made a recent resolution to be attentive to my surroundings (actually I’ve made numerous such resolutions, this being the most recent) so as I traversed the park I focused on the cedar trail itself. Doesn’t sound very interesting does it? As I normally look everywhere but down while walking, looking down is a novel experience. An exercise my husband advises me to do each time I trip on a rock or branch.
Composed of cedar chips, the exercise course offers a huge variety of cedar chip shapes and sizes as well as the cones and needles that fall from surrounding pines. If these pose obstacles to walkers, I pick them up and toss them onto the side of the path. Encountering a beautifully shaped twig of some sort, I bent to pick it up to examine before tossing (maybe it would be something to collect) I n…

It's raining yet they're out there

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Today, as huge snow storms hurtle toward the north eastern states, southern Florida is touched by the merest edge. It is even warm, 72 degrees, but we are told to expect high winds and rain, lots of it. I look out our kitchen window and see rain pelting off the tennis courts, but on the golf course greens elderly men swing their clubs and a condominium employee mows the lawn. Perhaps they've given up on the sun. Decided to make the best of what is. Meanwhile, my husband has pulled shut the hurricane shutters and darkened the apartment. 

Beryl's Winter 2016 Newsletter

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I write this newsletter from Florida, where we’ve been enjoying a warmer and wetter winter than ever. I do think of you however, especially as my new smart phone keeps me updated on weather up north and across the nation and the news is not always good. Mother Nature seems to be in a punishing mode, her behavior more awesome, tumultuous and damaging than ever. I hope you’ve stayed safe, that you’ve weathered whatever drought, hurricane or blizzard has brought your way. Even more turbulent than Mother Nature’s actions is the angry divided condition our nation reflects.
Today, while perusing the work of Anthony de Mello, one of my favorite spiritual guides, one story struck me as applicable to our situation today.  A spiritual master once told a visiting bishop that religious people have a natural bent for cruelty. His disciples were embarrassed and asked why he’d made such a harsh analysis.  Because religious people all too easily sacrifice persons for the advancement of a purpose, th…