Infinite Thoughts

Thank you, Buddha.

My father used to coach our daughters on the way to score in basketball. "Bend your knees, eyes on the rim, follow through," he would say over and over again. They would shoot and shoot and shoot for hours in the driveway of my parents' home. Sometimes the ball went through the lace, and even more often, it bounced off the rim or backboard and sent them scurrying until they stood in their "spot" and tried again. Having played in college (Dad was a member of the 1941 Long Island University championship team that won the national championship at Madison Square Garden), his grandchildren trusted he knew his stuff on the court. On those summer evenings, they thought he was teaching them basketball, but he was really teaching them (as he did my siblings and me years before) his own form of meditation that would serve us all well.

Meditation, thought by some to be a uniquely Buddhist practice, comes in many guises. Buddhists do use meditation to transform themselves. It helps them move beyond the world's many distractions to find the true nature of things. Since it dates back thousands of years, and we continue to embrace it in different ways, it must work, right?

In fact, clinical evidence reports that mindfulness meditation, where a person focuses on the simple in and out of the breath, has many benefits. It is said to improve brain health and emotional control. It decreases stress, anxiety and depression and even reduces blood pressure. In fact, various types of meditation have gained in popularity in the U.S. and around the world, due to their health benefits.

I bring this up today, because we are in the middle of May, the month in which the Buddha's birthday is celebrated on different days and in different ways around the world. Since many meditation practices have their genesis in Buddhism, let's take a look at this legendary man...
Buddha's Birthday in Nepal
Here a monk in Nepal  lights candles in celebration of Buddha's birthday.
The Buddha was born Prince Siddhartha Gautama about 2600 years ago in Northern India, now known as Nepal. While many royals through the ages have been satisfied to enjoy their wealth and power, Siddhartha was deeply troubled by what he considered an unjust caste system and the harsh facts of birth, old age, sickness and death. In what must have been a deep personal crisis, he left the palace and spent six years on a spiritual quest. During that time he perfected his own meditation skills and gained insight into the interdependence of everything around him. We are told that during this time he realized that the key to life is detachment from material things and an acceptance of karma, a cycle that propels us to learn and grow and awaken. This was his "awakening," and he became known by his followers as Buddha (which is a Sanskrit word meaning "The Awakened One.")
Buddha's Birthday
Buddhist monks celebrate Buddha's Birthday with a parade in Asia.
His teachings are legendary and his followers are many after almost three millennia. At InfinityAngel.com, we have found Buddha, his teachings and the very concept of meditation to be keys to finding a centered life. And, we chose a product named for him, The Buddha Board, as our first non-Infinity Angel product to represent. This enchanting "spiritual Etch-a-Sketch," as I like to describe it, reminds me of the day I first drew The Infinity Angel in the sand of Ogunquit Beach. You doodle, you write, you let your creativity flow...and you never know what will happen. And then it is gone. 
Happy Birthday, Buddha.
The Buddha Board provides constant lessons about impermanence, about letting go of expectations and letting go of results. When the water dries on your Buddha Board, and you can't stop it, you have to simply remember your creation, because it is gone forever.
I wish I could see the first Infinity Angel I drew on Ogunquit Beach again, but the tides took her away. And, yet, she still inspires me to do things in her name and every time I hear how she helped someone, I am humbled. In her story, I wrote that she taught me in that moment to "focus, believe and let go."

Hmm...sounds a lot like, "bend your knees, eyes on the rim, follow through." Thanks, Dad. And thank you, Buddha, for communicating and inspiring millions of people since you left the palace. And, Happy Birthday, from people around the globe.

 

 

Thanks to Anna

Did you know that Abraham Lincoln connected his mother with angels? In fact he said...

All that I am or ever hope to be, I owe to my angel mother.

He's not the only one who has celebrated his mother in a very special way. When Anna Jarvis' mother died in 1905, the West Virginia daughter and peace activist started a campaign to make the second Sunday in May a holiday to honor mothers across the United States. Three years later, the U.S. Congress rejected the proposal (really?), but Jarvis' dedication to "the person who had done more for you than anyone in the world" paid off after six years when all U.S. states observed the holiday. Three years later, in 1914, President Woodrow Wilson signed a proclamation designating Mother's Day a national holiday.

Celebrating the special women in our lives is not unique to the U.S. In fact, some form of a day for women is now celebrated in more than 46 countries around the world. In the United Kingdom, Mothering Sunday is celebrated, while in Bolivia, Mother's Day is the date of a battle in which women participated. Some countries celebrate International Women's Day instead of or along with Mother's Day to recognize special women and their accomplishments. Yet in others, the celebration of mothers is uniquely religious, focusing on Mary, the mother of Jesus in Christianity or special mothers in other religions or cultures.

As we look to the arrival of May, let us honor the special women in our lives. The month is named for Maia, the Greek goddess of spring and fertility. In Latin, "Maia" is connected to a word that means to increase or grow. Certainly, few would argue that our mothers have not helped us grow and increase our knowledge and spirit.

Whether we take a moment to think of all that our own mothers have done for us or focus on the kindness, compassion and inspiration shared with us by a grandmother, godmother, aunt, teacher or friend, may we remember the importance of feminine energy in our lives this May. We honor women on this Earth and those who guide us as angels from the Universe beyond where we can see them.

And if you'd like to know more about the two mothers who inspired Honest Abe, click here to learn the story behind his "angel."

 

Life's Milestones Deserve Meaningful Communication Beyond Words

Our daughter, Eliza, turned 21 yesterday. We felt lucky to be with her in New York City to celebrate. I experienced that melange of mother emotions that accompanies so many of life's milestones. The need for that oh-so-delicate balance between holding tightly and letting go completely was palpable as we said good-by and watched her walk back into her own life. That very struggle was there for me on the day sixteen years ago when I put Eliza (and her older sister, Molly, five years before that) on the kindergarten school bus. The same emotion swelled like a tsunami when we dropped Molly off at college in New York City, and then watched Eliza follow in her footsteps. Tears and silence were my immediate means of communication.

In the years since, I've cried after airport drop-offs watching them go for semesters abroad to Ghana and Paris, wondering if they'd be safe and happy...and they were. I was thrilled that Molly got engaged in Italy this summer and that she's enjoyed her move to Knoxville with her fiancé, which gave way to a new job she loves. When the physical distance goes from 90 minutes to a 15-hour car ride, you know it's a milestone. And I'm already holding my breath for a day in September of next year, when our older daughter will stretch that invisible chord even further when she comes home to speak her wedding vows by the ocean I look at every day.

Each of these milestones in life holds skyrocketing emotions of joy and pride, and are often wrapped around feelings of fear and sadness deep down inside, because it's hard when life changes dramatically. It's all about letting go. Allowing children to be inspired and try new things. Giving yourself permission to sink into the feeling that you've done a good job raising human beings who are contributing to a better world, but wishing they were little again for just one minute.

There have been other life markers...my mother and father passing away. My older sister's much-too-early and unexpected leaving of this Earth. These are our most human times and they deserve recognition and celebration. It's important to celebrate even the most painful moments and help one another through them.

That's why I believe I created The Infinity Angel...or, I should say, why she found me on Ogunquit Beach more than a decade ago. She is a reminder that everything you need is already here, that everything will be alright. She is often a physical memento of, as my mom always said, "This too shall pass." Because everything does change, pass, move along. The only constant is impermanence. I get it, but I need gentle reminders. Each milestone teaches me that lesson again in a new way.

We have learned that The Infinity Angel is embraced as an appropriate marker for life's milestones, a way to share the emotion of one of these transitions when words alone can't express your feelings. When I hear the stories about who gives and receives a Touchstone or a Nugget, when I am told anecdotes about the people who hold The Infinity Angel in their hands or pockets or purses, I am grateful to be part of their emotional communication. I share each of their milestones in a very tiny way and I feel richer for it.

I have several friends who are about to deliver their children to college for the first time this week. I hear their stories and remember the emotional roller coaster so well. Whether it is The Infinity Angel or another talisman they tuck into a suitcase to be discovered later or hand to their loved one as the tears begin to fall, it's important to find a way to communicate the emotions that no words will ever express.

Everything is about communication. Everything.


Thank you for allowing us to be part of some of your most poignant times.