May God Bless and Keep You Always!

You — my readers, my friends, my family — have been my rock, my sustenance, my touch stone throughout this year.

As a community, we have all been that for each other — and for all of it, I give thanks.


And May Your Year Be Sweet — Filled with Chocolate and Sweet Moments


Who could have imagined one year ago that our PUMA community would materialize out of thin air? Who could have known that we would spend the year in a fight for the Democracy we have known? Who would have foreseen that they would have given so much to this fight, and given up or suspended so much that they took for-granted before — career, friends, family, colleagues and associates — in order to take a stand for something that seemed so obvious? It was the zeitgeist, the spirit of the times, and we could not deny it. Like Hillary, we found our voice, individually, and collectively. And we are still here . . . testifying.

And you? To whom do you give thanks? And . . . who in your life keeps you young?

Happy 2009, Everybody!

Listen to the music.

Forever Young

Music & Lyrics by Bob Dylan

May God bless and keep you always
May your wishes all come true
May you always do for others
And let others do for you
May you build a ladder to the stars
And climb on every rung
May you stay forever young
Forever young, forever young
May you stay forever young.

May you grow up to be righteous
May you grow up to be true
May you always know the truth
And see the lights surrounding you
May you always be courageous
Stand upright and be strong
May you stay forever young
Forever young, forever young
May you stay forever young.

May your hands always be busy
May your feet always be swift
May you have a strong foundation
When the winds of changes shift
May your heart always be joyful
And may your song always be sung
May you stay forever young
Forever young, forever young
May you stay forever young.

Prayers to Light Your Way – for BJ


The Empire State Building, lit up for Chanukah

in NYC’s first snow storm of the year, December 19, 2008

Dear Readers,

Chanukah, the festival of lights, more than any Jewish holiday I know of, celebrates miracles. In ancient Judaism, circa 168 BC, the second temple was destroyed in a war between the Jews and the Syrian-Hellenists, when they forced Jews to assimilate. Although the sacred items of the temple’s altar were decimated, enough oil was recovered to light the flame of remembrance for one night. But instead of lasting for just one night, the flame burned for eight days and eight nights. It was called a miracle and Jews made a holiday, and with that, of course, they/we eat.

In remembrance of this time in history — when what seemed like the darkest hour, light emerged, propagated by a small flame. Jews celebrate by lighting candles and partaking of delicacies fried in oil: latkes in the US and doughnuts in Israel. The Jewish calendar is lunar, thus different each year, and this year, the winter solstice coincided with the first night of Chanukah. On the shortest day and night of the year, where darkness prevails, the light of hope was kindled. And now, the year has turned and daylight will continue to increase. In that same vein, may our ability to produce good in the world, in the “square inch field” and in the grand scheme of things also increase.

In this spirit, I ask that you to turn your attention and prayers to one of our own PUMA family members who’s in need. I’ve been sending prayers and thoughts toward BettyJean Kling, her daughters Louisa and Denise, and her whole family since hearing of their horrible family tragedy.

Last week, Louisa was violently assaulted by her sister Denise’s estranged husband. Louisa, who had been caring for Denise who is in an advanced stage of cancer, is now in the hospital fighting for her own life and brain function. If you want to read more of the story, you can find it here. And, last Friday night, December 19, Sheri Tag broadcast a special interview with BettyJean on Puma United Radio that you can listen to here. The show had me reeling, shaking my head in disbelief. It’s hard to believe that such assaults occur in our world, but indeed, they are all too common.

BettyJean welcomes all prayers. She asks that “no infection take hold, and may the left brain take over for the right with some time, God willing.” The latest update gives us more hope: last night Louisa squeezed BettyJean’s finger and the doctors are now concerned with brain function instead of removal from life support.

Great Spirit, please provide strength and healing to Louisa, Denise, BettyJean, and her entire family. Amen.

Please take this time to click on and play the Moody Blues track below, listen to the words with your eyes closed, let the music inspire you, and try to contact Louisa, and anyone else in your circle that you’d like to send energy to or connect with.

Thank you for all you do! With love, and may the lights of Chanukah shine upon you all, and brighten your nights, LBNYC

I Know You’re Out There Somewhere

[. . .] The words that I remember
From my childhood still are true
That there’s none so blind
As those who will not see
And to those who lack the courage
And say it’s dangerous to try
Well they just don’t know
That love eternal will not be denied

I know you’re out there somewhere

Somewhere, somewhere
I know you’re out there somewhere
Somewhere you can hear my voice
I know I’ll find you somehow
Somehow, somehow
I know I’ll find you somehow
And somehow I’ll return again to you

Yes I know it’s going to happen
I can feel you getting near
And soon we’ll be returning
To the fountain of our youth
And if you wake up wondering
In the darkness I’ll be there
My arms will close around you
And protect you with the truth

I know you’re out there somewhere
Somewhere, somewhere
I know you’re out there somewhere
Somewhere you can hear my voice
I know I’ll find you somehow
Somehow, somehow
I know I’ll find you somehow
And somehow I’ll return again to you

Party to the Battle of Terrorism

“There but for fortune go you and I, you and I.”

To live in peace, to be with family and friends, to love, to laugh, to enjoy life — to have a life that helps us escape from the dreary misery of boring existence — to connect with something larger than ourselves, whether it be belief in God, religious worship, service to others, community that bonds us together — this is what most people want from life. To create, to express, to dream, to wish for something beautiful. To share with others, to not feel alone in this world — this is also what spiritual servants do to lift up their congregants.

What gives people the right to kill innocents? Not the right, what gives them the impetus? The hatred? The passion to justify extreme violence meant to send a message of fear to the world? After sixty years, in September, 2008, India and Pakistan took a big step toward peace in signing an accord about their trade routes called the Indus Waters Treaty. Then on the very same day of the Mumbai attacks, India and Pakistan signed a “joint anti-terrorism mechanism.” Is this why terrorists attacked Mumbai’s affluent and popular spots?

There was initial speculation that the murder of the young Rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg and his wife, Rivka, at the Chabad house in the Colaba district might have been a random act. It seemed obvious to me that once again Jews were a target, the center was deliberately attacked as a statement against Israel. This was confirmed by the captured terrorist, Kasab, who initially pleaded for his own life after being disturbed at the sight of his dead comrade in crime. That chickenshit plea disgusts me.

Israel’s foreign minister challenges the world in her statement, quoted here from the NY Times:

In a news conference broadcast Friday on Israeli radio, Tzipi Livni, Israel’s foreign minister said: “We know that the targets there that were sought out by the terrorists were Jewish and Israeli targets as well as targets that are perceived as Western targets — American and British.”

She added: “We need to understand that there’s a world here, our world, that has been attacked. And it doesn’t matter if it’s happened in India or somewhere else. We have here radical Islamic elements who do not accept either our existence or the values of the Western world. And only when incidents of this sort occur is it suddenly understood from conversations with leaders from around the entire world that we are actually party to the same battle. (bolding mine)

After planning and plotting, hijacking a boat, scouting out their targets in advance, donning police uniforms after murdering their wearers, killing whomever they pleased at the CST train station, then at the Oberion, the Taj Mahal Hotel, and local cafe, it is becoming clear that this was a well-planned attack. Perhaps it’s my love of the gentle, generous demeanor of the Indian people, the way my ears perceive the melodious tones of their accents, or their sensual love roots in the Khama Sutra, or the attack on the world’s largest Democracy. The hotel workers were repeatedly cited as heroes, placing themselves in the line of fire to save hotel guests. They were, afterall, only paid workers, but their dignity shone through.

The innocents the US kills in this battle of terrorism to counter those who killed us. The tribal warfare, the retaliations, enslavement of women, of children, even the anger and resentments, the self-otherness of those who cannot tolerate people different than themselves. The self-righteousness of people who fail to see beyond themselves. Frankly, I’m just sick of it.

Tenets of Buddhism posit that even anger is a form of violence. I’m even tired of complaining about politicians, businesses, governments, systems, and sects that screw others for their own gain. I’m just sick of fighting about anything. Perhaps, it’s just the holidays and families gathering together, attempting in their big or small ways to get along and put their screwed up history of interactions behind them. Perhaps, it’s me resolving to reclaim my dignity and honor that of others.

“I’m tired of fighting, tired of fighting, fighting for a lost cause.”