Color Our World with Joy

We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope. – Martin Luther King Jr

Today, painted with the first blush of angel blue,

Lights the horizon with cheery hope.

A joyous sparkling chorus

Rises from the fading shadows.

As a sweet breeze sweeps away the gloom,

The long dark night is coming to an end.

The promise of a new world

Lifts up the spirits of millions.

Great unknown mountains and

Broad tempest tossed seas

Await our best efforts.

Seize hope with both hands.

Gather up the promise of now.

Fashion the golden aspirations of today

Into bridges across the dark chasms of yesterday.

May the blessings in your life

Be as plentiful as the stars;

And the positive light of hope

Brighten your life forever.

EZ Emergency Ice Cream

Simple recipe made with just two ingredients

The pandemic is still raging; seasons are changing and anxiety is running high. There are times when you want a frozen treat but don’t want to go out. With this easy Emergency Ice Cream recipe you can whip up some tasty relief with two ingredients. Many people are stocking their shelves, consider adding a few cans of evaporated milk.

Ingredients: Powdered Sugar, evaporated milk.

Evaporated milk is shelf-stable canned milk. It is made by removing about 60% of the water from fresh milk. It is different from sweetened condensed milk in that it contains added sugar. In some countries, it is known as “unsweetened condensed milk”.

Put the can of evaporated milk in the refrigerator overnight. The amount of sugar you use is up to you, but around a cup and half of powdered sugar is recommended. If you don’t have powdered sugar at home, you can make your own with a coffee grinder or blender in thirty seconds. A coffee grinder works pretty well.

Pour the evaporated milk in a large bowl. Whip the milk until frothy. If you don’t have a mixer, you can can use a fork. When you have a good froth on top start adding the powdered sugar. Keep mixing until your arm gets weary 🙂

Put the bowl in the freezer for an hour. After an hour, take the bowl out and mix up the contents for a few minutes.

Return to the freezer. Repeat, mixing and freezing, every hour for two or three more times. The mix will start to thicken.

When the mixture has the consistency of pudding, put the confection into a covered bowl.

Freeze overnight in the covered bowl.

Enjoy your creation whenever you have an ice cream emergency.

Cheers. Additions: vanilla, fruit, chocolate syrup, nuts, leftover Halloween candy, …

Light the Beacons

I purposefully avoid writing about politics for many reasons. But this day, November 3, 2020, is one of those historic days people will remember for a long time. Because of America’s vast influence globally, this is not simply an American moment. This day is an inflection point in world history. I woke in the pre-dawn hours as I normally do, and set about preparing for the day as if I was about to take an international flight. In a sense, all of us will be taking a long journey today. And so, the sun has risen on this much anticipated day of great uncertainty. For my part, I am doing the only thing that makes sense to me. I will light the beacons of hope.

We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory will swell when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature. Abraham Lincoln

We all have a thousand frames of reference from which to judge our lives. No two people have walked the same paths in the history of humanity. Each of us have had to follow solitary trails at times, alone and uncertain where that unmarked path may lead. But just as billions before us, we persevered. We pressed forward and have not perished. There were times on each of our personal journeys when the dark nights of our souls overwhelmed us. In troublesome times, we can lose our way amongst the labyrinth of obstacles blocking our progress. These trials and tribulation are what shape us, as much as the joys and celebrations. In order to advance, we need focused attention (mindfulness) on a goal – a point in the distance on which to concentrate. With prospects unclear, we must make the beacons of hope our focal point. Whether near or far, these beacons will illuminate the path forward.

We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope. – Martin Luther King Jr.

Just looking out the window, this day does not seem that much different than hundreds or thousands of others. Rain is falling, the leaves are falling, the temperature is falling. But there is something up. Something inexplicable is in the air. The modern intellect knows this day is different. For months, the inescapable mass-media information has explained the importance of this day. Well over one hundred million individuals will vote to decide the future vision of America, and by extension, influence the worldview of billions. Just decades ago, information about distant events was delayed by the capabilities of media channels. But now we all live in a non-stop simulation of reality. What is real is what we accept to be real. I choose to accept hope over soundbites.

You must understand the whole of life, not just one little part of it. That is why you must read, that is why you must look at the skies, that is why you must sing, and dance, and write poems, and suffer, and understand, for all that is life.Jiddu Krishnamurti

I know that right this moment, there are thousands of media channels churning out stories and data all pointing towards a truly unknown result. The result cannot be known yet, but my hackles (the hairs on the back of an animals neck) are up. I sense the urgency of those unseen messages, like an animal senses an earthquake. But, for now, I resist immersing myself in the ocean of sponsored perceptions. It will be there waiting for me when I choose to dive in. In order to find my way back though, I embrace hope. Our primal human senses are purposefully stimulated constantly in order to profit the digital illusionists. It takes conscious effort to limit our consumption to what is truly comprehensible.

What the mass media offers is not popular art, but entertainment which is intended to be consumed like food, forgotten, and replaced by a new dish. W. H. Auden

This day, with the sea breeze cooling my second cup of coffee, I know the world will keep turning and the day will turn to night. Change will come – it is inescapable. There is no hiding from this one truth, of which I am certain, hope will triumph. Bring the positive light into your heart and become a beacon of hope for the future.

The Road goes ever on and on
Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
And I must follow, if I can,
Pursuing it with eager feet,
Until it joins some larger way
Where many paths and errands meet.
And whither then? I cannot say
― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring

Blue Moonset

I just got back from the beach. I watched the Blue Moon set over the Pacific Ocean. It was magical to see the moonset and sunrise at the same time. We are now in a period of great change. Manifest positive light all around you. Keep the good vibes flowing, and keep hope in your hearts.

Enjoy the beautiful Blue Moonset over the rolling Pacific Ocean. I’ll start with my YouTube video. I put it to a chill beat.

Peace and Love to you all.

Be a Beacon of Hope

I have visited a lot of sacred places over the years. Although they were dedicated to different faiths, they all had one thing in common – HOPE. Hope is a miraculous elixir. When there seems to be nothing but negativity and doubt, a small ray of hope can brighten even the darkest nights. There is far too much cynicism and gloominess at the end of frightful year. I would like to spark a little beacon of hope for all of you.

Listen to the mustn’ts, child. Listen to the don’ts. Listen to the shouldn’ts, the impossibles, the won’ts. Listen to the never haves, then listen close to me… Anything can happen, child. Anything can be.Shel Silverstein

All day I have been thinking about hope. As I wrote, this afternoon I was looking out my window drinking coffee and eating cookies. Hey, it’s Halloween – and there has been way too many tricks these days. The sun is shining brightly through the trees, and woodpecker is methodically working his way around a branch … tap tapity tap tapity tap tap tap… I suddenly realized that the woodpecker’s tapping had a familiar beat. As it went around, I began tapping along and realized it was the intro drumbeat to the Stevie Wonder’s “Superstition”.

Human beings plan their lives based on what they know from experience. We anticipate what is to come based on what came before. Our brains constantly calculate the percentages for potential futures. But there has never been a time like this. These are historically troubling times. Here in the US we have the confluence of so many potential omens: rising covid-19 cases and record infections; contentious election coming to a head; blue Hunter’s Moon on Halloween; clocks turning back; asteroid 2018VP1 approaching Nov 2; the iPhone 12 is available 😦 …

The last time there was a Blue Hunter’s Moon on Halloween was in 1944. At that time, my father was twenty years old and stationed on the island of Tinian. His squadron was fighting in the Battle of Peleliu. He earned two of his four Distinguished Flying Crosses at that time. Between combat missions, he played with a little dog that reminded him of the family dog back home. As the sun drifts towards the horizon, I will think of my Dad and the home he made for us – built with his own two hands.

It is Halloween. Halloween was my favorite holiday as a kid. I loved monsters, candy, fall, wandering around in the dark. My old university was nationally famous for our Halloween party. It was a massive celebration of thousands of inebriated youth. We basically took over the “Strip” for the night until chased off by the police, with even McDonald’s becoming a temporary bar. I was wandering around somewhere in this crowd dressed as a Gumby from Monty Python. We ended up in the cemetery after midnight trying to commune with the spirits.

But there is a much older holiday at this time. The Gaelic Samhain (pronounced “sow-win” ) marks the midpoint between the Autumnal Equinox and the Winter Solstice. This begins the darker half of the year. The Celtic day began and ended at sunset so magic is in the air. The barriers between the physical world and the spirit world. Because the barriers between worlds had dropped, people dressed like animals and monsters to avoid being kidnapped by fairies. The ancient mystical energy is stirring. But the evil forces are overcome by people working together to celebrate victory over tribulation.

For millions of believers November 1 is All Saints Day but is also el Dia de los innnocentes or the day of the children. November 2 is All Souls Day or the Day of the Dead. During the days of the Dead, some believe that the souls of the departed return to earth to visit family and loved ones. November 2ndis a day to remember and honor those who have past. Spend a few moments to think about those wonderful people, who loved you and who you loved, who have physically left this world but not our hearts and souls.

We all have sacred spaces in our lives. Temples, shrines, churches, mosques, chapels,… All these are sanctuaries for our spirits. I’ll never forget my grandmother telling me, “you can pray anywhere. You don’t have to go to a church”. Home has always been a sacred place to me. Home is where I pray and commune with life. I am sure we all have been praying in our own way these days. That hope, offered up from your heart to the Universe is what will get us through this year. Our spirits will shine brightly, and the world will change for the better.

I have talked to my children and tried to reassure them that even though there is great uncertainty, and anxiety, there will be better times up ahead. Even though they are wonderful adults, I think back to our darkest time as a family. It was just after my very bitter divorce. Our world had been shattered. For weeks afterwards, each night my sweet little ones, age 7, 5, and 3, would wonder down the hallway, one by one and climbed into my bed. I would wake up, with one angel under each arm and one across my lap. In the gray shadows of those days, I kept the light of hope lit in my heart. I felt the spirits watching over us. I feel that same presence these days.

Keep hope alive because the omens and portends will keep coming. For instance, December 14 meteor shower and solar eclipse, and on December 22, the Winter Solstice, Jupiter and Saturn will meet in their closest conjunction since 1623. See these as signs of change. Great change is happening all around us these days. As Picasso said, “Every act of creation is first an act of destruction”. There is a new world being created. We can fashion that world from hope or from fear – please choose hope.

Anyway, I keep picturing all these little kids playing some game in this big field of rye and all. Thousands of little kids, and nobody’s around – nobody big, I mean – except me. And I’m standing on the edge of some crazy cliff. What I have to do, I have to catch everybody if they start to go over the cliff – I mean if they’re running and they don’t look where they’re going I have to come out from somewhere and catch them. That’s all I do all day. I’d just be the catcher in the rye and all. I know it’s crazy, but that’s the only thing I’d really like to be. – J.D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye

Your Hidden Genius

Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid. Albert Einstein

Reflect your hidden genius

Einstein’s great insights sprang not from endless thinking, but from the opposite. Einstein would often set sail and drifted along when he was in need of inspiration. Albert Einstein had a little sailboat that he christened the Tinef, which means “junk” in Yiddish. Einstein’s vast unconscious mind manifested many fantastic insights while he was floating on the sea. Although Einstein could not swim, he took great pleasure in sailing – or more accurately – drifting. Einstein’s theory of sailing was: “Set sail, make it fast, no thoughts of energy or velocity, loll back, let boat drift.” And that last part – let things drift is perhaps one of the greatest insights into genius. Everyone has genius inside, they just need to release it.

Discover the genius within you

Let’s examine the origins of the word genius. Genius came to mean outstanding intellect in modern usage. The word originally comes from the Latin for guardian spirit, which led to the sense of a person’s natural ability or talents. The word genius is derived from the ancient root geneto give birth, or beget. When a person is born, there are certain genius potentials born with them. This genius is part of each person’s inborn nature. Every individual has a genius inside. This guardian spirit is part of one’s character. No two people are exactly alike. Everyone’s character is self-defined not only by their experiences but their particular talents as well. This self-definition is the essence of individual human genius.

Become mindful of one’s genius

Human potential can become tightly constricted by the ten-thousand worries of the day. Important concerns should be dealt with as soon as possible. But, for the most part, a great of mental activity is static, such as endless looping variations on the theme“I should have…”. Cast off those negative thoughts that sap one’s energy and binds thinking to the past. That swirling negativity pushes against enjoyment of the present. One cannot see the wind, but one can see the wind’s effects. Find ways that calm the spirit. Begin by focusing more on the present. Being in the Here/Now is the essence of mindfulness. Accept feelings, thoughts and sensations as they arise. Being mindful of what is actual will reveal one’s unique genius.

Appreciate the beauty of the present moment

There is enormous beauty in the world right now. This life holds great potential for wonder and happiness. But all too often, people are too focused on pursuing specific goals of rather than drifting along for a while. We all stand between worlds – our inner world and the outer world. Each of these is endlessly reflected in and reflected upon the other. The beauty of the Universe is manifested within the genius of every individual ever born. Just as Einstein would often do one must cast their mind adrift in order to appreciate the beauty of the present moment. Find ways to float without thoughts every day, if only for a few minutes. Genius will awaken within those drifting moments.

Celebrate the awakened genius

Sometimes currents of doubt will threaten to your newly buoyant spirit, but relax. Let your thoughts float atop waves of negativity. Do not submerge your genius – celebrate your awakened jubilant genius. Embrace your lively new found spirit. Be fully alive. Live more in the Now. Accept and release past pain. Unbind Your Future. And don’t forget – Let Your Mind Drift

Manifesting Positivity

It will never rain roses: when we want to have more roses, we must plant more roses. – George Eliot

The first time I read the spiritual classic – “Autobiography of a Yogi” by Paramahansa Yogananda, I was amazed by all the manifestations accomplished by enlightened beings in the book including Yogananda. During the great teacher Yogananda’s life, he learned from many miraculous people how to manifest the essential reality of his life. “ …You realize that all along there was something tremendous within you, and you did not know it”. Paramahansa Yogananda

After reading Yogananda’s book and many other mystical texts over the years, was consistently resonated with me was how much of our reality, consciously or otherwise, is shaped by our attempts to manifest our inner worlds. Lately, all of us are experiencing levels of uncertainty and anxiety about the future. In the time between Spring 2020 and Spring 2021, a decade of change will happen. Around the world, millions are seeking positive ways to see through the shadows ahead. Act now to begin to manifest a more positive reality.

When researching the concepts around manifesting, there are many references to the Law of Attraction (LOA). LOA – believing positive or negative thoughts brings positive or negative experiences into a person’s life. Although increasingly popular these days, the Law of Attraction comes from the 19th Century “New Thought” spiritual movement. Some of the ideas incorporated into LOA thinking include the more familiar self-help mainstays of visualization and affirmations. Focusing your attention on more positive ways of thinking will increase the positivity, and so your reality will become more gratifying. Conversely, focusing less negatively weakens the detrimental impacts of negativity. According to Deepak Chopra “Whatever you put your attention on will grow stronger in your life. Whatever you take your attention away from will wither, disintegrate and disappear.” Manifest the positive.

There are no shortcuts or one-size-fits-all programs with a 100% guarantee of success when it comes to manifesting positiveness. But the good news is you already have the power within you – we all do. You just need to find your ways to refocus your energy less towards tangible desires and more towards the intangible truths. For instance, Buddhists believe craving pleasure and material possessions leads to suffering, because those wants can never be fully satisfied. Seeking such things will keep you forever anchored to the suffering of endless wanting. There will never be enough. Goals centered around self-actualization have far greater benefits. Manifest the idea of wanting less.

Sadly, so much energy is spent every day on desiring specific possessions and sensual experiences. Every day millions of people focus on such things as: newest iPhone, a luxury SUV… Billions of times a week, around the world, people say I want____ rather than I need _____. You need food, you don’t need gourmet foods. Limit your wants in order to obtain your true needs. Manifest what you need not what you want.

It is not possible, by the sheer force of will, for the average person to effortlessly manifest a material object they desire. Without some mental and spiritual effort, no amount of intense wishing will make your dream object appear in front of you. No amount of just sitting around thinking positively will change anything if the thoughts are nit directed towards actions. And focusing the mind on being rich instead of having what you need, will only lead to frustration, dissatisfaction and desperation. Understanding the answer to the question, “what do you truly desire?” will aid you in your efforts to manifest what is real. Reducing desires is one of the first steps towards becoming more enlightened. A myriad of desires are abandoned by the side of the road as one journeys along the path to understanding essential reality. Manifest positivity.

For Americans, the holiday strangest holiday season in living memory is upon us. With devastated economies around the world, so much death and suffering, let’s put our hearts together globally and manifest a better future.

I discuss many of these ideas in my writing:

Unboxing Your Soul: Spiritual Self-Help

Positive Light: Novel

Shine a Splendid Light: Poetry

The Myth of 10,000 Steps

The 10,000 steps a day goal began as a successful marketing tool.

The exercise goal of ten thousand steps a day is not a magical number. Walking is a wonderful way to improve health, especially for more mature adults. 10,000 steps/day is a marvelous long-term goal, but most people average around 2,500 steps a day going about their normal lives. So adding 2,000 steps to that total is a very achievable goal. More steps per day is associated with lower mortality rates (see below). Moving more is better. But setting the bar too high though can lead to disappointment and a sense of defeat.

Many types of fitness tracking gear default to a daily goal of 10,000 steps. It has even been shown that some goal-oriented people feel less healthy if they do not reach that arbitrary daily number of steps. Regular exercise is undoubtedly beneficial. Especially during this pandemic crisis, it is critical to stay healthy, and exercise plays a big part in overall wellness. However, there is no proof that crossing the 10,000 step finish line every day is a cure-all. First, let’s take a look at the 10,000 step goal.

First Steps

I walk around 15 miles a week on the beach. I don’t wear a device to measure my steps. I prefer a more natural method to measure my overall steps. I used my car’s odometer, and measured on Google Maps the distance of my usual walk. The average person’s stride is between 2 to 2.5 feet. That would give a rough estimate of 2,000 steps in a mile. This adds up to around 30,000 steps a week on the beach and another 15,000 or so from going about my normal day. This means I average around roughly six thousand steps a day. To a guy my age, that is a pretty good number. I have felt a great improvement in my well-being since I began increasing my steps. What are the origins of the 10,000/day fitness target?

Pedometers were invented in the late 1700s originally as a method for a self-winding watch. It wasn’t until the mid 1960s that they gained widespread use as a fitness tool. In 1965, the Japanese clock making company Yamasa Tokei Keiki, invented the pedometer. At the time, they used research from a Dr. Yoshiro Hatano, who found Japanese people were becoming more sedentary and only walking around 2,200 – 2,500 steps a day.

http://www.yamasa-tokei.co.jp/top_category/article_pedometer_first.html

The company set the goal at 10,000 steps and named their product 万歩計 manpokei translates as “10,000 step meter”. Due to the overwhelming success of pedometers, the Japanese word for “pedometer” is 万歩計 manpokei. And so the use of pedometers spread around the world and the ten thousand steps a day goal was established.

Wearing your health on your sleeve, wrist or around your waist

It has been estimated, that over 500 million fitness trackers, so-called wearables, have been sold worldwide. To some, these personal high-tech augmentations provide a convenient way to self-monitor their fitness efforts. But to others they become a negative feedback burden that constantly reminds them they are falling behind on their goals. If used properly, these devices can be real motivators like a wearable exercise buddy. But to keep from becoming a slave to a digital gadget, a balance must be found when establishing a goal and setting about to achieve that goal.

Taking Steps for Improved Health

Ten thousand daily steps became a benchmark for many reasons: because of the way research studies are structured, the media finds it convenient to use, it’s easy to remember, etc. Fundamentally 10,000 is simply a count and not a cure.

An average walker takes around 2,000 -2,500 steps per mile. You can maximize the health benefits by varying your walking cadence. Maintaining a brisk pace for thirty minutes increases the overall benefits to your cardiovascular system. Researchers call your average pace over a half hour walk – peak stepping cadence. And the peak 1-minute cadence is the fastest one minute pace over the course of a thirty-minute walk. You can look up these terms to learn more about calculating your peaks.

“U.S. adults average a peak 30-minute cadence of 71.1 (men: 73.7, women: 69.6, P < .0001) steps/min and a peak 1-minute cadence of 100.7 (men: 100.9, women: 100.5, P = .54) steps/min. Both peak cadence indicators displayed significant and consistent declines with age and increasing levels of obesity.” (Source)

More steps taken per day are associated with lower mortality rates until approximately 7500 steps/d. According to the results of a study of 16,741 women with a mean age of 72 years by researchers at the Harvard Medical School and published in the Journal of the American Association, women who averaged 4,400 steps/d had significantly lower mortality rates. As more steps per day were accrued, mortality rates progressively decreased before leveling at approximately 7500 steps/d.

The authors concluded, “These findings may serve as encouragement to the many sedentary individuals for whom 10 000 steps/d pose an unattainable goal.”

Association of Step Volume and Intensity With All-Cause Mortality in Older Women, May 2019

How Fast?

According to a study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, “A cadence value of ≥100 steps/min in adults appears to be a consistent and reasonable heuristic answer to ’How fast is fast enough?’ during sustained and rhythmic ambulatory behavior.”

Take a Walk Today

Walking is beneficial whatever your goal – weight loss, cardiovascular, pulmonary, meditation, or overall wellness. Get out there and walk. Make the time. Find the place. Set your pace. And Get Stepping.

The Tao of Kung Fu Tea

There is something in the nature of tea that leads us into a world of quiet contemplation of life. – Lin Yutang

Is your kungfu strong? Would you like to strengthen not only your body, but your mind and spirit? Allow me to teach you the easy to follow way of the Tao of KungFu Tea. The kungfu does not refer to a type of tea, but the way of making tea. In this sense, Kungfu tea translates as “making tea with skill”. Chinese write this as Gong Fu. When used in martial arts Kungfu or Gongfu means: Kung (Gong) skillful, hard work or training and Fu – time spent.

A true warrior, like tea, shows his strength in hot water. Chinese Proverb

There are many styles of kungfu tea sets, but they all contain small cups, small pot with infuser and a small serving pitcher. There are many elaborate tea sets costing hundreds of dollars, which include special utensils and a tea tray. If you go to a tea house you can pay for a more elaborate tea ceremony. But most people drink tea in the late afternoon or evening as a way to relax with family and friends. The goal of using tiny cups is to take the time to unwind and leisurely enjoy the company.

The steps are simple and easy to master. Start by boiling water. Buy a water boiler. It is so much easier to make tea of you have one. When we traveled in China, we carried our own water boiler, because we needed to boil everything, and I could tell you some stories about hotel water boilers :-(.

For obsessive tea lovers, the type of water can make a difference also. There are charts too about which temperature is optimal for certain types of tea. But let’s keep it simple.

Wash out your cups, pot and pitcher. You can use boiled water if you like. Just make sure you start off with a clean gongfu tea set. While the water is boiling add tea to the tea infuser – the little tea basket in the tiny pot. I like my kungfu tea strong, but my wife prefers a more subtle flavor. You decide how much to use.

Additions to tea: During this awful pandemic, my wife and I like to add dry chrysanthemum flowers to the tea. In Traditional Chinese Medicine chrysanthemum flowers help to clean the lungs.

We also add goji berries. Wash these several times with clean water and add them to the tea pitcher. Goji is a powerful very versatile medicine food. It can help your body become more balanced. Goji is added to many Chinese foods such as soup, because they have a lot of positive health benefits.

Once the water has boiled wash the tea. Fill the pot with water and pour it out two or three times. This cleans the tea. Fill the pot with water. Refill the boiler and boil some more.

Take the pot to the table and let the tea steep for a few minutes. Always fill others’ cups first. You can keep refilling the pot for as long as you like, or until the color and flavor fade away. Relax and enjoy the company.

Here’s a tip: If you are enjoying the conversation and someone fills your cup, you can gently tap your index and middle fingers on the table to say thank you. This tradition dates back to a Qing Dynasty emperor who enjoyed touring his kingdom in disguise. He wanted to practice pouring tea, but traditionally people had to kneel to the emperor. The emperor instead asked those around him to bend their fingers (to represent their bent legs) and tap their fingers on the table. So the next time you are enjoying some tea, don’t forget to tap and say thank you.

Selecting your tea.

Fortunately for you there are hundreds of varieties to choose from. All tea comes from the same plant – Camellia sinensis. The different types of tea are created by various curing processes and regional variations of plants and geography.

Years ago we visited the ancient neolithic site of the Hemudu Culture in Yuyao. Archaeologists uncovered the six thousand years old roots of tea plants which had been domesticated by the ancient people. There are many legends around the origins of tea drinking.

Basically though people began to drink tea because the water was unclean and had to be boiled. Somewhere back in the mists of history, some folks dropped in some tea leaves and the rest is, as they say, history.

Green Tea

Tea has to be processed once it is picked. When tea leaves are exposed to the air they begin to oxidize. Just like apples and other fruit begin to turn brown, tea leaves change color and the flavor is enhanced by the process. This oxidation is a critical step that produces different types of tea. Green teas are not fully oxidized, therefore the leaves are still green.

I lived for years in the city of Hangzhou. Hangzhou is famous many things including Longjing – Dragon Well tea – the most famous green tea in China. Longjing tea has been produced for over 1200 years. It is famous for its potent scent, bright colored leaves and sweet taste. To judge if you tea is the highest quality LongJing tea, place several leaves in a glass of boiling water. If the leaves stand straight up vertically, the tea is high quality.

The highest quality Long Jing tea is plucked before the Qing Ming holiday. The people of Hangzhou are famous for giving gifts. Several times the parents of some of my private students gave me Qing Ming Longjing tea to thank me for teaching their children. Because of the high quality of the tea, my wife would often take those and re-gift them (Chinese are well know for this habit).

HuPao Springs – Dreaming of Tigers Spring said to some of the best water in China. The combination of HuPao Spring water and Longjing Tea will bring the energy around you into harmony and increase your overall health, or so it is said. Locals gather around the HuPao spring area to carry water home by the gallon. The area was once the home of the legendary eccentric Zen master monk Ji Gong, also known as DaoJi. DaoJi was said to be the incarnation of a the dragon taming arhat Xianglong Luohan, but I digress.

Fermentation

Some teas, such as the famous Pu Erh tea are allowed to undergo fermentation. Teas that are allowed to ferment are darker and have a stronger scent and flavor. The longer the tea is stored and fermented the stronger its kungfu and also the higher the price.

Pu Erh Tea

Here are more of the teas we have around our home.

Iron Guanyin

Tuo Cha from Yunnan

Tea stored in a dried persimmon (my brother-in-law’s)

Black Tea with Lychee (it has a very nice aroma)

Tea has been a part of world culture for thousands of years. For centuries, the people of southwestern China traded tea for Tibetan horses along the Tea Horse Road. We visited the area numerous times. The ethnic minority cultures there are fascinating.

I have learned a lot about Tea Culture from my family and my students over the years. You can buy a KungFu (Gongfu) Tea Set online or visit a local Asian supermarket. There are hundreds of different types of tea available.

Liu Bao Black Tea

Lately, while my wife is back home, I have been enjoying Liu Bao Tea in honor of my father-in-law who recently passed away. The tea comes from near his ancestral home. It was his favorite, and he drank tea every day. Pick a tea or three and enjoy the leisurely pleasure of Kung Fu tea. It’s always tea time somewhere.

Tranquil Reflections

Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished. LaoZi

These are trying times. With all the constant communications channels blaring 24/7 non-stop anxiety, each morning can seem like a fire-walk across a bed of glowing coals. Embers and ashes of what could have been lie on the ground, as constant reminders of what’s been lost. The risks are unevenly distributed across various metrics of age, health, location and dozens of unknown vectors. The challenge is daunting, but not impossible. Bring peace to your heart. Allow yourself to breathe easier. Step away from the updates and news flashes. A soothing soul-balm awaits in the nearest nature spot.

Heaven is under our feet as well as over our heads.Henry David Thoreau

Study nature, love nature, stay close to nature. It will never fail you.Frank Lloyd Wright The modern world offers so many conveniences and advancements. Although camping is nice, few would prefer to sleep rough in the bushes every day over curling up in one’s own bed. Too many folks though have been hiding in artificial safe rooms as the pandemic surges and crests only to surge again. The demon virus has not been vanquished. Now, the seasons are changing. Soon the cold weather will come bringing flu season as well. The tendency will be to retreat further into one’s fabricated world. Minimizing risk is wonderful, but it is not enough to simply reduce life to its minimum. The human spirit needs to be reinvigorated. Get outside and play.

Throw open the windows to your soul and look without seeing, listen without hearing. Stand in the glow of unprocessed life. Sit quietly or shout into the wind. Step softly or twirl across the grass. Do what comes naturally. Release the tension and lower the pressure. The sun will not set upon you too soon if you let go for a time. Seize today. Embrace right now. Each moment is golden. The earth has music for those who listen. – William Shakespeare

Maybe it is my background in the arts, but I become anxious when things are too controlled, or too rigid. There has to be room for wonder once in a while. Life’s tempo does not always have to be regular and metered. Stop counting the clock-beats and drift along. As the poet Rilke once wrote, Have patience with everything that remains unsolved in your heart….live in the question. Live in the question – what great advice. There does not have to be an answer. Go with the flow and let joy unfold naturally.

These extraordinary times will not last forever. There is an expression that is often wrongly attributed to the Chinese: “May you live in interesting times.” It is said to be a curse and not a blessing. That is true, but it is not a Chinese expression. There are similar expressions in Chinese, such as “It’s better to be a dog in peaceful times than a person in chaotic times.” Since my wife, who I bless every day, is still in quarantine in China, I will leave all of you with a Chinese idiom, worrying too much is like trying to scoop the reflection of the sun from the water.