Dear Emma V – Daily Reflections

Well, Emma, there will not be many photos today as I am on Day 2 of my time here with Amma and her devotees.  So many people.

My hotel room is on the Lobby floor, the first room near lobby and elevators. Oh boy!  I thought to myself upon arriving Friday but also saw a good side to it.  The main events were on the first and second floor and I am on the third, so I thought that would certainly be convenient since I would only have two flights of stairs to use rather than always waiting in line for the elevator.

And yesterday there were so many people, that I was happy to be able to come up to my room for a mini break away from the crowd.  I usually don’t mind but this year, I am feeling a bit overwhelmed with the swarm of bees buzzing and all wanting to get a taste of the sweet nectar of Amma’s embrace. Even just to see her smiling face from afar is a blessing.

I got up early (well 7:30 AM IS early for me!) and considering I had not slept well all night, no matter which side I would turn there was always a patch of pain waking me up.

I went down to the token line (people waiting in line to get a token to later receive Darshan (Amma’s embrace).  I usually get acquainted with a new person when I am waiting in the long line.  Yesterday I chatted with a woman from Oregon.  She has been a devotee of Amma, since 2000.  I am always impressed by the stories about how someone heard about Amma and how they fell in love with this divine and compassionate guru.

There were so many people that we could not sit in the main hall to see Amma during meditation but go in one of the two rooms where we saw her on a large screen.  I was disappointed but at the same time, I knew she was just in the next room and felt her grace.

I came up to my room to get away from the crowd and rest a bit in my room…so happy I can run up here even if it is to get a cuppa or go to the washroom (no waiting lines here) [chuckling to myself]. But I was also surprised to see that I had walked 5km in my entire day including a brief walk to the restaurant.  Wow!  I guess we don’t realize all the steps we DO take in a day. According to my info on my phone, I went up to my room (2 flights of stairs) 6 times X2 to get back down.

 

I went down to the hall just in time as my token letters were up…talk about coincidence, eh?!  I was sad that I could not kneel however, due to my injured knees but the two young men were there on the side the stage facing Amma, ready to shove that bench under my  cushion [chuckles again] and there I was in the arms of this warm and giving person.  She was chatting with her staff so I got to rest my head on her shoulder a good minute before she truly embraced me.  I had given her my new jade and crystal mala beads to bless.  I was so humbled and honoured when she draped the beads around my neck before rest on her shoulder.

Usually after Darshan, we are permitted to sit on one of the chairs on the stage to be near Amma while we process our blessed encounter with her holiness.  There were so many people, I waited a few moments and people coming after me were getting seated…I left, knowing feeling that it just was not meant to be.   I prefered to be seated facing her whether it is close or far, as long as I see her embracing families, couples and individuals…it is a joy seeing her give so much love to others.

As I was making my way to the exit, I could not help but stroll along Amma’s shop and look at all the different tables.  I found a nice bamboo utensil set that can be clipped to a backpack. How cool is that?  Great gift to give! I may pick up a few more, since they are so original.  All proceeds go to Amma’s humanitarian projects.

I was pleased Karuna texted me so we could have dinner together and we walked up to a Mexican restaurant nearby.  It was nice to connect since she is so busy and involved with the programme and frankly with the 25 plus years in Amma’s grace, she knows a heck of a lot of people here.  She is such a giving person and so easy to talk to.

Later in the evening I met Karuna’s son, so now I felt good having also met her daughter my first morning here.  I know I have told the story before, but not on this site how I came to learn about Amma.

Four years ago I was blogging and writing poetry and flash fictions inspired by prompts from various blogs/people around the world.  One blogger/writer/poet at http://www.TheSeekersDungeon.comhad a weekly prompt to write in any form and the topic was always something to reflect upon.  I really enjoyed these prompts giving me an opportunity to be more self aware and write about it…many times it helped me to sort things out.  It was like therapy minus the 100+$ an hour! [smiles]

Another blogger friend and writer from Italy told me he was living in an ashram in India.  Hmm, I found that interesting as I also had a work colleague who lived in an ashram in Toronto.

Later this blogger’s mother who lived in Seattle was convinced by her son, to start a blog at http://www.LivingLearningandLetting.wordpress. com She is a retired psychotherapist.  She also started following her son’s prompts and she and I started communicating, seeing many parallels in our lives…both in the helping profession, both had a son and daughter almost the same age, both married in the 70’s and so the list went.

She mentioned Amma once and I was curious so I check on Youtube to see some videos and was so drawn to her. I could not help but weep seeing how much joy she brought to her devotees all over the world, Japan, Malaysia, India, Italy, France, Germany, Brazil, Chili…well, the list goes on.

Karuna offered to share a room with me if I wanted to save a bit of $$ on Amma’s Canadian tour in Toronto in July. I agreed…I was curious. I normally don’t like sharing a room with a friend…family and that is it but I was so surprised how easily we got along.  She did her thing (which you could see how many people spoke to her and she was always there to help someone as well).  And that is how I came to meet Amma.

Today I slept in late, nursing a summer cold (that may be the reason I am aching more than usual and want to be alone) but better to have that at the end of a trip than the beginning, right?  Also I think a cold forces me to rest more.  I had a back massage last night given by volunteer massage therapists and again, all proceeds go to Amma’s projects.

The massage therapist said, “You are Canadian aren’t you?”  I wondered what gave me away, she said with a smile, “You ended your sentence with ‘eh’”.  Her parents were from Montreal and she was born and raised in Calgary. Another coincidence!! I always meet people who are connected to Montreal in some way!  Wow!

Okay, that’s it for now, Emma. I am taking my time to get ready for Devi Bhava.  I will share a video to explain Devi Bhava so much better than I ever could.  As the hours progress and the lines start to slim down sometimes not until the wee hours of the morning.  The latest I have experienced Devi Bhava to start at 7pm and end at 11:00 am!

 

The ending is a bittersweet time as Amma looks onto her devotees slowly, silently and it feels as if she can see each and every one of us before we pass by her one last time and she throws flower petals on our heads as we rush by her.

I had another massage with a different therapist and although great that she worked on those knots (I should be sailing!) it was a different pressure and I am in more pain right now.

Right after I went for Darshan and then went up to lie down. I cannot sit longer than 20 to 30 mins and my head feels it weighs 100 lbs and my neck cannot support it as well as my shoulders…ouch! So I just went to bed. Last night I was able to sleep from 2am to 4am at which time I was startled awake by people in the next room letting the door shut on its own and that vibrated to my room plus lots of laughter and chatting…so it took a good 2 hours before I could sleep again. I stay in bed until noon and wrote most of this post then got ready for Devi Bahva.  I knew there would be a long line up but I really wanted to be in the main hall and see Amma and not see her on a screen. As luck had it, I entered the main hall and they started to place me at the back and then a volunteer usher asked me if I was alone…yep, so they made a spot about 10 rows from the front in a corner. Perfect!  I was so fortunate!! …lovely blessings like that surely are appreciated.

After Darshan I went back to my room and finished packing, tried to sleep and I did doze off a bit then went back down to the main hall.  I sat for about 45 minutes and my neck and back could not take it. I knew then, I would not be able to see Amma bid her farewells to her devotees.

Left shortly after for the airport and here I am finishing this last paragraph.  I have a flight at noon to Vancouver (one hour flight) and then 4 hour layover and 6 hour flight to Montreal arriving well after midnight. It will  be good to be home…I miss Bette my Best Feline Friend (best feline friend)

Evening Primrose  https://www.google.com/search?q=evening+primrose&safe=strict&rlz=1C9BKJA_enCA721CA721&hl=en-US&prmd=isvn&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiKz_OsyLjbAhVcIjQIHUDoBOoQ_AUIESgB&biw=1024&bih=653#imgrc=XR8TNQ0V7ESue

 

Twilight appears
Mother scans the crowd
Children in the night

Twilight appears
Like an evening primrose
Hearts open out

Mother scans the crowd
Embracing each living thing
With self-less love

Children in the night
Gather one last time
Bidding Her farewell

© Tournesol ‘18/06/04

Daily Moments – evening primrose (troibun)

Waiting for Amma (troiku) Daily moments

Amma (Mata Amritanandamayi)is known for her embrace but also for her compassion and humanitarianism

 

Waiting
With anticipation
And an open heart

Waiting
Hundreds gather
line of busy ants

With anticipation
Small, big, tall, short
All share the love

And an open heart
They mingle here and there
Speaking one language

Daily moments – June 2, 2018. Waiting for Amma (troiku)

Dear Emma IV – BC to Seattle by bus (Haibun)

June 1st ALREADY!!

 

After a delicious veggie skillet breakfast at the Pacific Inn (oh la la, what a place!) I went outside to wait for my bus. This is the last stop the bus makes before crossing the US border which is 2 minutes away.

The driver asked the commuters, “Okay, this is my last time asking this. Do you have any fruits, vegetables or any fooooood!” He emphasized on the “food” part, I wondered about my delicious aged cheddar in my suitcase with crackers. Oh, dear!! What to do?! I did not want to throw it away since I had not even opened the packages. I saved it for moments in the hotel room at the Bellevue Hilton and if I got the munchies (which I always do at night), I would have this. Time is awaiting, I pondered and did not speak up. What the heck, it is no big deal, right?

As we approached the border and got off the bus, the driver told us we had to see the Agriculture inspector and they would X-ray our luggage. “Oh dear!!” I wondered if they could prevent me from going on my trip since they will surely see on X-ray my munchies!! What to do?!!

Everyone’s luggage was unloaded and we each had to enter the customs office one by one with our little piece of paper declaring we did not have anything dangerous or any food!!!! No seeds, especially not any Ginseng…according to the driver, we have to have a permit to carry Ginseng across the border. Really?! Wow!! Good thing I did not have my MJ Pain cream on me eh? Well, I knew I could not have that but I did not think that cheese and crackers were a big deal.

About 10 people were ahead of me. I kept contemplating. I cannot tell a lie without looking guilty and turning red with lips quivering. Oh dear!! I pass to see the first officer or agent, whatever their title is, they are BIG and IMPORTANT when one must cross the border! He certainly did not smile [I wonder if they practice looking bored and mean]…

Officer: Where are you going?

Me: Seattle, staying at Hilton Bellevue, Bellevue, Wa.

Officer: What is the purpose of your visit?

Me: Going on a retreat.

Officer: What kind of retreat?

I was thinking I should not make any jokes about it being a seniors’ nudist retreat. Perhaps that is not a very good idea. I was thinking of asking Amma for guidance but certainly asking her to protect me if I LIE!! was out of the question!

Me: Um…my guru from India is visiting Seattle this weekend.

Officer: [grunts, lowers his head]. Okay…(he hands me back my passport)

I am sort of relieved but I still had to get past the agriculture inspector

Me: [I can’t take this any longer! I am coming clean!] I do have crackers and cheese in my luggage.

Agri. Female
Agent: That’s just fine, and what a perfect snack on your ride over to Seattle

Me: [sigh of relief…it does pay to be honest…I can’t help smiling.]

I was standing outside the bus waiting for the other commuters to get on and chatted with this gentleman who is from Seattle and was visiting his mother in Richmond, B.C. We got to talking about housing and how the market has really gone up in places like Toronto. I told him my friend in Mississauga was asking $325,000 for her townhouse and she got $625,000 instead. It was a bidding war out there. I sort of wished I had sold my condo in Toronto later before moving back to Montreal. He asks me, “Why would anyone want to move back to Montreal?” I was not too sure how to answer for it was difficult to know what his unspoken reasoning was. I just said, I am from Quebec, born and raised. He said, “But it’s sooooo cold there”. I had not thought of mentioning that today it was 28C in Montreal and it was 14 here in White Rock and Seattle. However, I knew he was referring to our winters. I could tell how we are used to cooler weather as there were several people walking along the beach path I walked this week with ski jackets, whereas I had my sweater wrapped around my waist walking along in my short sleeved shirt.

Okay, now we have boarded the bus and it only delayed us 30 minutes. Hmmm, I must factor that in the next time I travel. We may whine when we go through customs but I sure feel safer knowing security checks all our luggage though.

 

Two hours later, we had arrived in Seattle and the skies were slowly clearing up. I took a Lyft to the hotel and chilled all afternoon in my King Size bed. I really did not want to walk too much today but, for some reason, I thought we were at the same hotel as last year but I circling the hotel and could not recognize any streets.

I finally checked Cheesecake Factory on Google Map and was surprised and disappointed that it was 2 km away…Oh well, up the hill I went and finally turning onto another street, I recognized where I was. I got accosted by a vegan extremist for a few minutes but finally got in the restaurant.

There were more than a dozen patrons waiting in line to get a table. I asked the Maître D if there was too long a wait…nope, not if I am alone and I only waited fifteen minutes. I love travelling alone! I was seated at almost 9 PM.

My intention was to have a salad then gorge into a savoury cheesecake but the Thai coconut chicken looked so good and I did not have dessert but I did have bread. I think I appreciate it more when I hardly eat it. It was getting too dark to walk all the way back so I called Lyft and the ride only cost $3.00. On Google Map the rates are listed for both Uber and Lyft and Uber is a lot more expensive. Interesting!

Being honest
Always pays – and,
Lowers blood pressure

(C) Tournesol ‘18/06/01. Daily Moments

Dear Emma -III – May 30-31 Vancouver (GasTown)

    (C) Clr’18. Inspired by the jazz playing in the cafe

Dear Emma, May 30th Vancouver day trip

I decided to go into Vancouver since it was the only place I could purchased the CBD cream for my knee. Well, what I am saying? If CBD is good for aches and pains, my goodness it should do wonders for all my aches due to Fibromyalgia. I will just get it and slather it all over the sore areas…which are plenty.

My host was kind enough to drive me to the bus stop, which saved me a good 30 minutes. I had loaded extra $ on my Compass card, so was not too worried of transfers and getting to the Waterfront in Vancouver. What I had not anticipated was the bus did NOT drive into the city as a few locals had told me last night. The bus stopped at Bridgeport SkyTrain station and I saw everyone get off. I walked up to the front and asked the driver if this was the end of the line…yuppers!

I remembered Waterfront line since it is close to our Vancouver office and chose that line to get in town.

I had the address of the Cannabis Lounge where I was hoping to get my cream. In BC you don’t need a prescription to get it but in Montreal we do. I have my request put in for that when I get back from vacation but I wanted to try it now since my knees were so painful as well as neck and shoulders, so what had I to lose? My intention was to buy it, try it and then mail it to me in Quebec because there was no way I was flying with that or going through customs with it. There is barely any THC in it and it does not affect the brain/mood but it is supposed to be healing and soothing for inflammation…so they say!

(C)Clr’18 Vancouver, GasTown, Hastings Street

I got in town and started walking in circles…yes, that is me. I look at Google Map on my phone and argue with it thinking I know better well, that means I go in circles and get so fed up, I give in to Google and voilà I found the place

 

I was a bit apprehensive since it is on Hastings Street and there is a section that is quite sketchy but this place was not that far East…phew! As I walked in, there were three clerks at the centre of the shop on a raised platform surrounded by a counter. There were so many smoking paraphernalia and most I have never seen…well, maybe in a movie! As I walked in, one clerk was lighting up a joint and then gave it to his colleague and calmly [they sure ARE calm!] asked if he could help me.

I started, “I come from very far…” and explained that I heard the MJ Pain cream was very good for joint pain. One of the clerks said he uses it regularly on his wrist and it works…I doubt it was just the cream…[wink wink]

The small jar was $45 and the larger one $100…so I took the small one. I left and looked around for a comfortable café where I could put the cream on my knees, neck and shoulder and sit and relax with an Americano and wait for the magic. I found a Starbucks on an nice corner with a terrace, so I stood in line for the washroom first. After a good fifteen minutes, I entered and put the cream on, and placed the jar on the toilet paper shelf. As I put it there, I told myself, “I had better not forget it now!.” Why the hell did I not put it in my bag straight away? I wanted to wash my hands first.

I ordered my double shot Americano and sat comfortably in an armchair and relaxed…I felt a tingling in my neck but still pain. My knees had not budged…I mean the pain did not subside even a little. My shoulders were the same but my upper arm seemed painless. Hmmm, well, maybe I need to slather this on a few times before seeing any difference.

After an hour of reading and writing on my iPad, I messaged a colleague who now works in the Vancouver office and asked if I could take her out for dinner on her hour break later. I am so glad I did. She brought me to this funky bar called The Taco Shop actually just across the street from The Cannabis Lounge…another coincidence?  I was thrilled hearing the jazz music as I walked In.   I was so delighted. Of course I ordered seafood burritos with guacamole and chips to start. My friend chose the local beer for me as she had a good idea on what I preferred. It was great!!

We could only eat half so we doggy bagged the rest (which I will be eating as my bedtime snack tonight) and I went to join her at the office. I wanted to show her my jar of magic potion. I looked in every section of my backpack…then she looked for me and then an image flashed before my eyes ‘Brown jar marked MJ Cream’ on the shelf above the toilet paper’. I slapped my forehead with the palm of my hand out of sheer frustration! Darn!!! I forgot it there.

Then I remember the woman going into the washroom after me, I warned her that there was no more toilet paper (for which I was pleased I had carried Wet ones in my bag). I saw her later and she looked at me weird…NOW, I know why. She was probably waiting for me to ask the clerk if anyone had found a jar of cream. But I had not realized it at that time. Well, my coffee ended up costing me $55.00 (including Americano and a danish).

I was kicking shelf but then I finally let it go and figured if anyone who more pain and fell upon it, then I’m happy someone can benefit it. I know I will not order it online, having tried it, I need something stronger which I noticed they have another blend for arthritic pain. In any event, I shall discuss it with my rheumatologist before I try that again, since I am sure he has referred many of his patients to alternative pain relievers.

Walking back home away from home slowly and stopping often to take in the v

Getting back home on the sky train was fine (I double checked with a local to make sure I was taking the correct line since it was getting late and late transit is not so great outside of the city). I got at the bus stop at 10:30pm and looked on my app Transit to check the stops to make sure I got the right transfer. When I got at the stop at 11:15pm, there was no one waiting for a bus, so I asked another local and the lady was going to call the transit company not trusting my phone app. Just then the 321 transfer bus arrived, so we checked and the driver said this was the right line. The bus was a fifteen minute ride and the driver told me to just keep walking straight ahead and the road will become the street I needed to get to. WELL HE WAS WRONG!!!!

(c) Clr’18 When I crossed this overpass, I knew I was lost!

I walked onto a highway crossing and realized I could not be going in the right direction. Thank goodness the moon was so full and bright but boy was I getting frustrated, tired and after 30 minutes of turning in circles, I was getting scared. I did not meet ONE person on the streets where I was walking. This is so different than back home. My phone was losing juice quickly at 7% and often it closes down at 5%…I didn’t want to call the host of my AirBnB as I knew she turns in early (compared to me) and I wished for once that Uber existed in B C. If I would call them (like I did once in a similar situation when it got too dark in San Diego to retrace my steps) I called Lyft (similar to Uber) and they catch us on their GPS and pick us up straight away. I have to say we should have that service at least outside of major cities where transit is scarce. I could not have called a taxi, since they don’t have the GPS system Uber has. My last resort if I could no longer find the house was to call the police.

There was 1% left on my phone and it stayed on by pure miracle …yes, I said a few prayers too! And I finally got home at 12:30. I had walked 12km that day but 5km just getting home since it was supposed to be 2km!

Oh well, at least it gave me something to write to you about, Emma. Right? I took a nice hot shower when I got it to soothe every aching muscle and slept like a baby.

May 31st,

Today I woke up at 8 am but my body wouldn’t budge. I picked up my phone and finished reading an e-book, then I snoozed a bit off and on and did not get out of bed until noon. It took me a while to get moving but I took my time. And now here I am at a café

 

(c) Clr’18 White Coffee and Ice Cream

 

I started with a cappuccino and called my uncle in Ontario to wish him happy 90th birthday and then treated myself to a double scoop (did not realize they were so BIG) of rainbow chocolate…YUM!!

I sat inside to savour the ice cream and the music turned to Jazz which seemed to attract my muse and voilà, I just finished another post!

It is such a treat to by typing my post in front of the ocean…time to leave and sit on the shore now…one last time. Then walk the 4km back.

I picked up s few souvenirs at Whitby’, a place recommended by a grienf who used to live here in White Rock  I wanted so much there but the owner said I could order online too.

I sat on the beach taking in all I could , meditating and trying to be st one with my surroundings.  After half an hour I decided to walk back home slowly hopefully my to find a spot tovrst closer to my lodgings.

Unfortunately, I did not find a restaurant or fish and chip place open after nine. Boy!!! it’s a bit like Toronto was like in the early 1990’s. Ih well I guess ti each its own.

There were some other places further away from my lodgings, so I thought about the half seafood burrito I saved from last night.  Phew!  I also brought some good aged cheddar from Montreal. I am all set for my last night in BC.

Unpredictable
Whimsical and enchanting
Like Mother Nature

Unpredictable
The weather
In Canada

Whimsical and enchanting
Getting to know
A new lover

Like Mother Nature
Humans influenced by the moon
And the stars

(C)Tournesol’18-05-31

Daily Moments – unpredictability- May 31-18 (troibun)

Dear Emma, White Rock, B.C.(troibun) i i

Dear Emma, May 29th White Rock, B.C.

Walking along the beach, I checked the time and realized there was over 3 hours before sunset. So, I stopped at a café, a friend suggested, Whitby’s Café. They have coffee, pastries and gelato. It seems there are at least a dozen ice cream parlours on Marine Drive. I sat with my coffee and relaxed entranced by the ocean view across the street.

It has such a friendly and “small town” affect here. I rested for almost 30 minutes, sipping my coffee and then I walked a bit more west. I found a place to sit and lean my back on the cement. I watched people arriving after their day job, to catch a few hours on the water, kayaking, fishing or just sitting on the beach and chilling and watch the sun set.

I sat there for awhile and let the sea take me in. I was in a quieter area with less people traffic, so it was easy to just drift off and be in the moment. Later, I started walking back East, hoping to find a quiet place for dinner. I had walked up an appetite for sure! It was a long day, walking over 2 km just in the airports! I did a total of 11 km for my first day!

Most of the places I passed were buzzing with patrons and many couples…I needed to be in a calmer place and then I noticed one place that seemed more inviting. The terrace was almost in front of the pier and one patron smiled at me and said, “Come on in, you won’t regret it.” And so I did and when the waiter came out, I recognized her and realized this is the exact place I came to last year on my first night in White Rock. What a coincidence!

I had mussels in a coconut and curry bouillon with cilantro and a local fruity beer from Delta. I happened to have that same beer last year too. A family passed by and right in front of the entrance one of the toddlers set herself on the sidewalk having a tantrum. I felt bad for the mom who was trying to not make a scene. The couple across from me, said, “Well, we’ve all seen that before.” And we got to chatting. They were from Clearwater, BC near Kamloops. They seemed so nice and it looked like they were out on a spontaneous couples’ getaway. I asked them if they wanted me to take a photo of them. Their phones had died, so I used my phone and gave it to the woman to forward to herself. They were so sweet and I learned more about the beauty of their neck of the woods. Maybe next year, I might consider flying to Vancouver and renting a car to drive up north for four to five hours. Apparently the view is worth the road trip.

Walking home, I felt bad that the sunset had been hidden by the clouds but the sky was turning magenta all around me. I took a few more pics and I still could not get over all the gelato places on the way home. I finally gave in on the last place and got a chocolate pistachio gelato. It was pure bliss!

Twilight serenade
Rolling waves kiss the shore
My feet tingle

Twilight serenade
Seagulls gliding
Singing off-key

Rolling waves kiss the shore
Bowing
to the setting sun

My feet tingle
Waves rolling back
Into my childhood

(C) Tournesol ‘18/05/31

This was written May 29th but I did not get around to post it.