Here, There and Everywhere

Posts tagged ‘Mexico’

More Alive Than Ever

Love: The Beat Goes On by Lynda Filler.
Reviewed by Gabriel Constans.

51JCGXkVO9LHer life was flying, her heart was dying. Lynda Filler had a new job, loving family, and an almost too good to be true newly acquainted man she called “my cowboy”. There’d been for-warnings, “messages”, shortness of breath, but nothing really stopped her in her tracks (literally) until 2008 when she is told she has a form of congestive heart failure called dilated cardiomyopathy. Doctors told her it was a death sentence and she must “get your affairs in order”. Nine years later, after driving alone for many months between Canada and Mexico, visiting a shaman in Sedona, New Mexico, and realizing, “I was the change that needed to happen in my healing”, she wrote Love: The Beat Goes On. She’s more alive than ever.

I worked with hospice and bereavement programs for many years. Most people I met was dying, or had had someone die. Whenever I heard about someone having this or that “terminal” disease (or as the author calls it “dis-ease”), I accepted it as reality and tried to help them (and their loved ones) prepare as much as possible, and live whatever life was left to the fullest. Ms. Filler not only didn’t go along with the “program”, but somehow trusted something inside, and outside, herself. Against medical advice she took her own road. Her journey was not random. She learned to honor her intuition, take some risks, and, pardon the clique, follow her heart.

The chapters in this journal are most fitting and include – “The Widow Maker”, “Every Breath I Take”, “Swollen Heart”, “You Are Not Your Diagnosis”, “Red Rocks and Thunderstorms”, “Doctors and Doctorates”, “Is it a Miracle?”, and “It’s a Mind Game”. There is a perfect mixture of describing an event, what her personal reactions, thoughts, and feelings were about the experience, and her understanding and actions (if any) in response. Even though this pattern progresses throughout her writing, Lynda also becomes acutely aware that she is not what she writes about. “I have huge respect for all who survive anything, but I am not my story.”

Love: The Beat Goes On isn’t melancholy, or sanguine; it is as real as real can be. I know of few people who have learned to believe in something beyond themselves, willingly take steps into the unknown, and trust their own gut, as has Ms. Filler. Her life is example number uno of how to live a life of genuine belief and faith. Not in a religious sense, but with practical down-to-earth actions and spirit. This memoir is interesting for personal reflection, and provides a number of suggestions on how others can use what Ms. Filler learned for their own challenges. She doesn’t claim that her way is the only way, but her still being alive gives a lot of credence to what she has to say. “When I walked down from that vortex, my step was light. My heart beat normally again… and I knew it.”

 

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I Can’t Hear You!

A sleep-deprived excerpt from Zen Master Tova Tarantino Toshiba: The Illustrious and Delusional Abbess of Satire.

There was an older man named Alejandro, who lived down the road from the Abbott’s monastery. He loved playing music from Mexico and the land of the Incas and played it night and day. He was hard of hearing so he had to play the music as loudly as he could, so he could hear his own voice and accompanying drum. Sometimes, he would drum and sing until he fell asleep just as the sun rose.

A number of the nuns were upset with Alejandro and complained to Abbott Tova about his annoying, and off-key voice and drumming, keeping them awake night after night.

The good Abbott knew that Alejandro pined for his childhood sweetheart, whom he’d married and lived with for sixty years. She wasn’t about to ask him to stop, but also understood how difficult it could be to sleep when his voice and instrument’s sounds traveled through the night air and seeped through one’s pores like slow torture.

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“Please, do something,” one of the senior nun’s, Sam, implored Abbott Tova.

“I cannot ask him to stop, nor will I,” the Abbott replied.

“Then many of the nuns will fall asleep during practice and miss their chance for enlightenment,” Sister Sam retorted.

“If they are not able to awaken during sleep, then I have taught them nothing.”

“Many of the chores will not be done if they are sleeping during the day,” Sister Sam continued. “The garden will not be planted. The meals will not be prepared and the floors will not be swept.”

“So what?”

“So what? We’ll starve and live in filth, is so what.”

“You are only seeing two alternatives Sister Sam. Telling Alejandro that he can no longer sing for his lost love and find what little comfort it gives him, or letting him sing and our community goes to ruin.”

“I don’t see any other way,” Sister Sam surmised.

“Then you are caught in Limited Mind and must have slept badly. There is always another way.” Abbott Tova went to her chest and began rummaging around and throwing out one item after another. “Ah, here they are,” she said, and handed a bag to Sister Sam.

Sister Sam opened the bag, picked up a small wax ball and said, “What in the Goddesses name are these?”

“Are you blind, as well as sleep-deprived?” the Abbott laughed. “They’re earplugs.” Abbott Tova took a pair from the bag and placed them in her ears. “I’ve been wearing them for years and sleep like a baby. Hand them out to the nuns and there will be no more problems.”

“Oye veh!” Sister Sam exclaimed. “Why didn’t I think of this?”

“What?” Abbott Tova said, as she began replacing the items she’d removed from her chest.

“I said, I should have thought of this!”

“What? Speak up.”

“I said . . . oh it’s nothing.”

Sister Sam bowed three times, turned around counter-clockwise twice, and left with the bag of earplugs, amazed as always at the wisdom and compassion of the great Abbott.

More deaf-defying stories at: Zen Master Tova Tarantino Toshiba: The Illustrious and Delusional Abbess of Satire.

Held In Hell

W1312EAIAR3It took Miriam Isaura López Vargas several weeks to piece together what happened to her.

On Feb. 2, 2011, the 30-year-old mother of four had just dropped three of her children off at school when two masked men forced her into a van, blindfolded her and tied her hands. The men drove her to military barracks 50 miles away.

Soldiers raped and otherwise tortured her repeatedly, trying to force her to “confess” to drug trafficking and incriminate other detainees, unknown to Miriam. She was held in this hell, without charges, for 8 months before being released.

Urge Mexico’s Attorney General to conduct a full, prompt and impartial investigation into the torture of Miriam López.

Miriam is not alone. Torture cases have skyrocketed in Mexico.

According to Mexico’s National Human Rights Commission Reports, torture and ill-treatment rose an astounding 500 percent in Mexico from 2005 to 2012.

Miriam has identified those responsible, yet no charges have been filed. Even if charges were filed, convictions for such crimes are rare.

December 15 is a key day for Miriam’s case: it marks two years since she filed an official complaint and yet there is very little progress.

Who do you turn to when government soldiers rape with impunity? The massive global human rights force of Amnesty International.

Miriam is one of 10 urgent human rights cases highlighted in Amnesty International’s 2013 Write for Rights campaign, the world’s largest and most effective letter-writing event.

Together, we’ve helped free enough prisoners of conscience to fill Madison Square Garden – twice.

Today, I’m asking you to help Miriam live free from fear. Make your voice heard – demand justice for Miriam.

In solidarity,

Jasmine Heiss
Campaigner, Individuals and Communities at Risk
Amnesty International USA

The Tex-Mex

The Tex-Mex
by Gabriel Constans

Jicama is a root vegetable similar to the turnip. It is popular in Mexican dishes throughout Mexico, Texas, California, and New Mexico. This smoothie is sweet, hot, nourishing, and filling.

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Yield: 5 cups

2 cups chopped fresh pineapple
1 small jicama, peeled and sliced
1 large mango, peeled and sliced
1 teaspoon chopped jalapeno pepper*
Juice of 1 lime
2 cups filtered water
1 banana

Place all the ingredients in a blender, and blend on high speed for 1 minute.

Pour into tall glasses and serve.

*Jalapeno and other hot peppers must be handled carefully. Don’t touch your face
and wash hands thoroughly.

Illegal Doctorate?

Excerpt from The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Academic Purgatory: An illegal immigrant earns a Ph.D.Now what? By Ilan Stavans

Jorge Arbusto isn’t the type of person who seeks the limelight. In fact, for years he has thrived in the shadows. But ask him today what he wants, and his answer is unequivocal: to be recognized.

A sweet, passionate, steadfast student originally from Mexico, Jorge (his name has been changed for this article) may be the only undocumented immigrant to successfully defend a doctoral dissertation in the United States. Certainly he is among a very small group. Yet his case poses questions that not only affect thousands of undergraduates today—some sources put it at around 50,000—but also challenge our ideas about hard work, the choices that colleges do or should make, the value of education (for students and society), and, yes, that thorn in our political side—immigration and the Dream Act, which is still stalled in Congress.

Having defended his dissertation on Spanish-language popular culture, Jorge received his Ph.D. in Hispanic studies this past spring. To reach this point, he has gone through astonishing hardships, which include beatings and imprisonment, not to mention the shame that comes with being illegal. He has endured all by focusing on achieving the highest academic degree. But now he may not be able to enjoy the fruits of his labor: No university I know of will offer him a full-time, permanent position.

Jorge is a criminal with a Ph.D. Is that what America stands for, education without reward?

Read complete article at: The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Building for Generations

If you would like to support a wonderful responsible and effective organization that works in Tanzania and Peru (so far), then I encourage you to learn more about Building for Generations. Here’s a brief description from Cory Ibarra (the director).

Building for Generations

We support education projects with a focus on persons with special needs. We build appropriate facilities to meet the needs of the community. We enhance existing programs with materials and equipment, and reduce physical and social barriers through community education, outreach, and advocacy. We develop sustainable programs and increase economic opportunities.

To build on the strengths of the community with local participation in assessing, planning, constructing and staffing. We are committed to the inclusion of people with special needs in the Millennium Development Goals of 2015. Our projects address these four goals in particular:

(I) Alleviation of poverty
(II) Universal primary education
(III) Improved lives for woman (heads of household)
VIII) Productive work for youth

MORE INFORMATION

English Tea & High Sierras

There was a little girl of six, who emigrated from England to New England over thirty five years ago and fell in love with nature and the great outdoors. Now a grown woman, she is still madly in love with the wilderness and is leading other women on adventures that combine yoga, hiking, white-water rafting, cross-country skiing and/or snow-shoeing at Yosemite National Park, Big Sur, Sequoia National Park, Gold Mountain, Idaho and Todos Santos, Mexico. Her name is Belinda Ordonez and her company is aptly called Wild Moon Yoga.

Belinda says, “I remember roaming the woods surrounding our home in Connecticut and the small wonders happening all around me; the sounds of bird’s chirping, deer graciously leaping through the trees and the beautiful chorus of crickets. Something magical happens every time I step into the wilderness. It is the place where my heart expands. There is an immense sense of freedom and potential.”

Intertwined with her pull towards nature was Ms. Ordonez attraction to yoga, which she also started at a young age. She was 15 years old when she recalls coming across a book titled “Richard Hittleman’s Yoga: 28 Day Exercise Plan”. She used that book to develop a daily practice as a teenager and as an adult has trained in the Ashtanga style of yoga as taught by Sri K. Pattabhi Jois. She has studied under some of his top students and sought out many yoga teachers around the world.

Yoga comes from the Sanskrit word “yuj” which means to yoke or bind and is often translated in English as “union”. Ashtanga Yoga is an ancient form of yoga which uses vinyasas (movements) to link postures (poses) and breath, to form sequences. Ashtanga is a Sanskrit term which means “eight limbed” or “eightfold path” to self-understanding.

Her trips combing wilderness travel and yoga usually fill up quickly, as she only takes a small number per outing, but only women need apply. “Women need an outlet to help them break free of their daily routines to nurture themselves,” Belinda explains. “Many women I meet are overworked, overloaded and exhausted from work, responsibilities and caring for others. Something very precious and nurturing happens when women get together. I remember witnessing one woman being moved to tears by the beauty of an incredible rainbow in Yosemite National Park and many others reconnecting with mother earth and feeling her magic.” Anga Gonzales, who has taken several trip with Ms. Ordonez adds, “Belinda is very reassuring and grounded. She allowed a person like me to relax and play.”

Lucy McCullough went on a Wild Moon Yoga trip to Yosemite National Park that included snowshoeing, yoga and meditation. She says, “The memory of that full moon lighting up the snow on those granite peaks took my breath away.” Another participant, Donna Burr, exclaims, “It was an amazing weekend trekking into the heart of Big Sur. Belinda’s knowledge and confidence on the trail helped to make the trip enjoyable and memorable. Her love and enthusiasm for nature and all its splendor is certainly contagious.”

The trips that Ms. Ordonez arranges often involve transportation and always include accommodations, park entrance and equipment fees, guide, yoga/mediation classes, gourmet meals and snacks. The majority are 2 to 4 day excursions that are planned throughout the year. The costs are reasonable and everything possible is done to accommodate special needs and circumstances. She says her yoga and meditation instruction are fit for any level of experience and none of the excursions are overly strenuous or designed for advanced hikers. A few of the professions represented by her travelers are teachers, therapists, business owners and nurses from every age group.

When it comes to life experience, Ms. Ordonez has been around the block a few times. She is not a new babe in the woods who suddenly decided to take women into the wilderness and bay at the moon. She holds a degree in psychology from the University of California, Santa Cruz; has advanced training in wilderness first aid and is a certified yoga instructor. Her background includes her work as a massage therapist, sports medicine, high school coach, career counselor and human resources. For over six years she worked with people living with life-threatening illness at a local hospice.

It appears that there is nothing that Belinda loves more (besides her dogs Max and Maya) than leading women up mountain tops, through valleys, down rivers and in meadows to practice yoga, mediation and even the occasional English High Tea. You can take a little girl out of Yorkshire England, but evidently not entirely remove her British sensibilities. Belinda laughs, “Even though I’ve lived and traveled throughout the world and lived in America most of my adult life, I still enjoy a spot of tea”.

Another former Brit, Stephanie Sandish, who joined in one of Belinda’s retreats in Sandpoint, Idaho, sums up her experience stating, “I found peace in the wilderness, healing in the holiness of nature and new found friends.”

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