Peace In The House, Peace In The World

Peace in The House, Peace in The World

“Where there is righteousness in the heart, there is beauty in the character. When there is beauty in the character, there is harmony in the home. When there is harmony in the home, there is order in the nation. When there is order in the nation, there is peace in the world” A. P. J. Abdul Kalam

In the Jewish tradition, there is a high idealized standard of family life characterized by wholeness, fulfillment, nurturing, respect and kindness. It is believed that God dwells in a pure and loving home. It is called shalom bayit -peace in the house.

Peace starts with us. We must create peace in the home to carry it outside and share it with our communities, our cities, our states, our country and then the world. It is more than saying I want World Peace. It is making a conscious choice do something differently in our lives. It is choosing to deal differently with our own conflicts and frustrations. It is learning communication skills and taking responsibility for our  actions. It is taking these commitments we have made to ourselves and bringing them out into the world.

As Gandhi says, become the change you want to see. We can’t depend on our leaders anymore. I do not believe that I will see World Peace in my lifetime. But if we do not change how we behave to other people, it will not be in any lifetime.

Be good to those around you. Selfless acts of service to those in need will change your life and theirs. Teach your children about the world around them. Learning about other cultures, religions and customs enables children to understand different perspectives and develop a feeling of connection with all people.

There are more people in this world who want love and peace than there are who want hate and war. The media focuses on the bad. We need to focus on the good.  I have met good  people from all over the world which makes me still believe that peace is possible. There are more people who want to live in harmony then chaos.

I try to do something nice for a stranger every day. It started after seeing the movie Pay It Forward. Sometimes it is small like leaving money in a parking meter for the next person, buying a coffee or a drive through meal for the person in line behind me, giving food to a homeless person, picking up garbage that I see on the beach, listening to the person standing in front of a store who is raising money for something or talking to an old person sitting on a bench alone in a park. My hope is that they will do something for someone else. Maybe it will make one person a little less angry, or more peaceful and connected during their day. 

Become an expert at living your life with wholeness, fulfillment , nurturing, respect and kindness and maybe those around us will follow. If we are lucky, it will trickle up.

Fly safe,

JAZ

Sometimes A Kid Is Just A Kid

Sometimes A Kid Is Just A Kid

“By endurance we conquer.” Edward Shackleton

In life you will meet a lot of people and most of them you will end up forgetting. I will never forget an eight year old boy who rolled into the first day of 826LA summer writing program  where I volunteer.

It wasn’t just a wheel chair. He was strapped in with a plastic plate across his chest and a large clear plastic tube attached to a hole in his throat. I have lung problems and hate to see breathing tubes.  Since I was a child, I have always had a strange fear of deformities and people who look sick. The pediatrician told my mother that it was because I had watched my grandmother who lived with us, shrivel away and die when I was three years old.  I don’t know if that is true.

“Please don’t sit at my table” I thought when he entered. I’ve often heard that when you phrase something negatively and put it out into the universe, the universe doesn’t hear the negative word.  It hears “Please sit at my table” and that is what happened. I won’t be able to help him. But I smiled and introduced myself. After all, I am grown up now. He says his name is Tony.  His eyes lit up and gave me the most beautiful smile. He participated shyly as all the kids did on the first day. I wasn’t sitting next to him and he couldn’t reach a paper in his binder. I froze for a second because I did not know if I was supposed to get up and help him or let him struggle and do it himself. Alejandra, the girl sitting next him quietly gets it for him. Neither of them say a word to each other. He is sitting next to a boy named Omar and he says that there is someone in his class named Omar. Omar smiles in delight at him and says ‘You know someone with my name?” It will be all right at this table.

I am late the next day and a volunteer is already sitting there when I arrive. The program leader tells me that  the kids at my table  were asking for me. I seem to be doing ok. Do we talk about the wheel chair and all the stuff he has with it? No one that I have asked seems to know. I watch nine-year old Alejandra who is sitting next to him this week. She does not interact much with any of the kids at the table – only adults. She is on it. If Tony can’t reach something or drops something, she gets it and hands it to him in total silence. I learn from her that helping someone is just something you do. You don’t need a big discussion about it.

At the end of the week, we do a group project and everyone has added something important to save the sea turtles. We have become a team.. Tony tells me that he hates doctors but likes the dentist. I have to go to the dentist for a filling and a crown and I tell him that I HATE dentists. He laughs hysterically as if I have just said the funniest thing. He is a warrior and clearly I am not. He looks like he has gone through so much at such a young age. Most of us cannot even imagine doing that but the smile never faded from his face. He told me he didn’t smile a lot when he was in the hospital  but he smiles all the time now.  Sick definitely does not mean weak.

The following week the kids have changed tables.  I arrive early. “Tony is sitting at the second table”, says the program leader.  He is very happy to see me there when he arrives. I am happy to see him as well.

The summer program is ending and I do not know if I will ever see Tony again. I have dealt with worsening health problems that seemed big to me but are small in relationship to his. I learned from him to be grateful  for the health I have and always make the most of my situation. While I was busy wallowing in self-pity, Tony was smiling through adversity and putting a smile on my face as well. But more importantly, he taught me that at any moment, even when you least expect it, someone or something can change your life.

Fly safe,
JAZ

Amelia’s Divorce

Amelia’s  Divorce

“But in the real world, you couldn’t really just split a family down the middle, mom on one side, dad the other, with the child equally divided between. It was like when you ripped a piece of paper into two: no matter how you tried, the seams never fit exactly right again. It was what you couldn’t see, those tiniest of pieces, that were lost in the severing, and their absence kept everything from being complete.”  Sarah Dessen

 I  have noticed that kids around the world are all the same. They might eat different foods or attend a village school in the rainforest but they share universal commonalities. They all need to have their basic needs met and feel safe, secure and loved.

A little girl came over to my dog Banksy  at the hairdresser.  She wanted to pet him. I said that  he was kind of nervous because we had just moved to a new place and dogs don’t understand moving, She asked where we had moved to. I said to Venice/ Marina Del Rey.

“My dad used to live in Marina Del Rey but now he lives in the valley.  My dad doesn’t live with me anymore. I am from a divorce now. I live with my mom near here in a new house,“she replied.

“Since you are in a new house,  maybe you could help Banksy. Do you have any ideas how to make him more comfortable in his new home?“

She asked if Banksy was from a divorce? I said “No, it was just me and Banksy.”

”It is just me and my mom now,”she answered. Amelia told Banksy not to be sad because everyone will still love him the same even if he has a new stepmom who is going to have a baby.  “My new stepmother is Filipino so we don’t know what the baby will look like because my dad is Jewish. But the baby won’t look like  me and no one will know that she is my sister.”

“You will know and she will know and that is all that counts.” I said.

“She isn’t really going to be my sister. She will be my half-sister because we don’t have the same mother.”

”To her, you will be her big sister and a very important person in her life when she gets a bit older.“ I said.

She smiled and said “Yes, but the valley is very far away. Banksy, even though you are scared now, your new home will be great. You won’t have to miss things when it is your weekend with your mom or your weekend with your dad.” Amelia is seven.

Fly safe,

JAZ

Things That I Have Stopped Thinking About Since I Started Traveling

Things That  I Have Stopped Thinking About Since I Started Traveling

“I soon realized that no journey carries one far unless, as it extends into the world around us, it goes an equal distance into the world within.’  Lillian Smith

How I look when I travel   I’m a little vain. I’m the kind that doesn’t like to go out without makeup or the right kind of casual attire. (Which jeans should I wear today?) But when I travel, I don’t think about my appearance, which lifts an incredible burden off my shoulders. I wear what’s comfortable, easy to travel in, and just go. I notice from my photos wearing the same clothes in every country, that I have a travel wardrobe. It works.

Personal Drama   Someone is inevitably mad at me because I say whatever comes into my head. There is usually drama in my life. Real relationships and friendships stand the test of travel because going away puts life into perspective. There are people who I miss and keep in contact with while exploring the world. Traveling does have a way of quickly separating strong, healthy bonds from dysfunctional, dramatic ones. Some of the people I have left behind should probably have been left behind a while ago.

Possessions    When I travel, my possessions boil down to essentials. As I packed up my house that I have lived in for a long time, I reminded myself of how little I need around the world.

Anxiety   Traveling keeps you in the present moment. I rarely have anxiety when I travel because whatever I am worrying about is usually not happening at that moment.  It helps me in my not traveling life as well. Not as much as I would like, but I’m working on it.

My weight   I’m genetically a thin person. I’m basically a healthy eater with a closet junk food mentality. I’ve learned that I can eat what I want in moderation . I don’t get on a scale very often any more. I don’t worry that I’m not perfectly ripped and toned. i don’t work out like a maniac. I’m a foodie . I enjoy trying food and restaurants here and abroad. I don’t eat meat or gluten except when I do. My focus has become on everything else around me and not on how I come across. It’s a big thing when you realize the world is not about you.

Social media   The robotic and frequent opening of email and Facebook stops when I am traveling. A lot of places I go to don’t have service and whatever is going on at home seems very far away from what I am doing. Other than posting on instagram and sending out my quotes, I tend to read a lot more instead.

What people think about me   I used to care a lot about what people thought of me and my family. It’s human nature to care what people think.  At the end of the day, you are the one who has to live with the choices you make. Now I only care about where I’m going next.

Having regrets   Everyone has their own path in life, and their own way of achieving it.
When I am traveling, I don’t worry or compare — I know that this is exactly the path I was meant to be on.

Fly safe,

JAZ

Staying Sane In An Insane World

“The most insane things can become normal if you have them around you long enough. A mind can’t seem to hold anything too crazy for too long without finding a way to make it seem normal.” Deb Caletti

You can get used to anything. You think you can’t but you can. When I came home from New Zealand I had horrible anxiety every time I turned on the TV. There was another Presidential order that was always badly rolled out and more protests. There is way too much bad news bombarding us twenty-four hours a day.

A few weeks later, I just feel numb. I am becoming desensitized. Things were said today  that went almost unnoticed. A month ago they would have been front page news. What is going on in America is wrong and it takes all my sanity to get through the day. In the midst of all this I am trying to live a conscious life of kindness and intelligence. Just because America is going insane does not mean that I have to follow.

The cause of these external events have been a long time in the making. They did not just happen. There are no simple answers. Finding a scapegoat to blame sounds very fascist to me. It’s the Muslims. It’s the Feminists. It’s the Immigrants. It’s the Jews. It’s the NRA.  It’s the Whites. It’s the Blacks. It’s ISIS. It’s the Environmentalists. It’s the Left. It’s the RIght. It is so convenient to have someone to blame – especially when said in a confident, authoritative voice. It’s becoming really hard to separate the real threats from the manufactured ones.

Here are some real threats. There are 117 suicides in the U.S. each day compared to 43 murders. There are 129 deaths from accidental drug overdoses. Ninety six  people a day die  in automobile accidents (27 of whom aren’t wearing seat belts)There are 1,315 deaths each day due to smoking, and 890 related to obesity, and all the other preventable deaths from strokes, heart attacks and liver disease.

I need meditation and yoga in my life now.  I can’t exhale this out. Beaches and travel help. I allow a short time period to watch the news and take days off. It looks to me like all this fear mongering is illogical. We are the biggest threat to ourselves.

Fly safe,

JAZ

Good Quotes For The New Year

“I never said half the crap people said I did.“Albert Einstein

1. I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes. Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You’re doing things you’ve never done before, and more importantly, you’re Doing Something.  So that’s my wish for you, and all of us, and my wish for myself. Make new mistakes. Make glorious, amazing mistakes. Make mistakes nobody’s ever made before. Don’t freeze, don’t stop, don’t worry that it isn’t good enough, or it isn’t perfect, whatever it is: art, or love, or work or family or life. Whatever it is you’re scared of doing, Do it. Make your mistakes, next year and forever.” Neil Gaiman

2. “If you are not a better person tomorrow than you are today, what need have you for a tomorrow?”Rebbe Nachman of Breslov

3. To teach how to live without certainty, and yet without being paralyzed by hesitation, is perhaps the chief thing that philosophy, in our age, can still do for those who study it.”  Bertrand Russell

4. “Tomorrow, is the first blank page of a 365 page book. Write a good one.”
Brad Paisley

5. “Excellence is never an accident. It is always the result of high intention, sincere effort, and intelligent execution; it represents the wise choice of many alternatives – choice, not chance, determines your destiny.” Aristotle

6. “The object of a New Year is not that we should have a new year. It is that we should have a new soul and a new nose; new feet, a new backbone, new ears, and new eyes. Unless a particular man made New Year resolutions, he would make no resolutions. Unless a man starts afresh about things, he will certainly do nothing effective.” G.K. Chesterton
7. For last year’s words belong to last year’s language and next year’s words await another voice, and to make an end is to make a beginning.” T.S.Eliot

8, “I truly believe we can either see the connections, celebrate them, and express gratitude for our blessings, or we can see life as a string of coincidences that have no meaning or connection. For me, I’m going to believe in miracles, celebrate life, rejoice in the views of eternity, and hope my choices will create a positive ripple effect in the lives of others. This is my choice.” Mike Ericksen

9. “And now let us believe in a long year that is given to us, new, untouched, full of things that have never been, full of work that has never been done, full of tasks, claims, and demands; and let us see that we learn to take it without letting fall too much of what it has to bestow upon those who demand of it necessary, serious, and great things.” Rainer Maria Rilke

10. Honor to the earth,” the abbot said, “honor to the dead in the passing of the year; honor to the living, in the coming of the new. A Great Year passes tonight. A new one begins. Let the good that is old continue and let the rest perish…” C. J. Cherry

11. We try to help where we can, and try to survive our own trials and stresses, illnesses and elections. We work really hard at not being driven crazy by noise and speed and extremely annoying people, whose names we are too polite to mention. We try not to be tripped up by major global sadness, difficulties in our families or the death of old pets…
We work hard, we enjoy life as we can, we endure. We try to help ourselves and one another. We try to be more present and less petty. Some days go better than others. We look for solace in nature and art and maybe, if we are lucky, the quiet satisfaction of our homes…

We’re social, tribal, musical animals, walking percussion instruments. Most of us do the best we can. We show up. We strive for gratitude, and try not to be such babies.” Annie Lamott

Happy New Year and Fly Safe,

JAZ

25 Things That I Wanted To Do In 2015. Did I Do Them?

25 Things That I Wanted To Do In 2015. Did I Do Them?

Promises are like babies: easy to make, hard to deliver. ~Author Unknown

1. Do something big that I am afraid of. Yes
2. Drink less coffee. No
3. Go to Rio. Yes
4. Go To Another Grouplove concert. Yes
5. Finish my hamburger blog. Yes
6. Get more people to read my blog. Trying
7. Try eleven more new restaurants in LA. Pistola, New Port, Stir Market, Gracias Madre, Ledlow, Pot, Zinc, The Larder, Burger Lounge, Terrine, MessHall, Fred, Odys and Penelope, Tacoteca, Bel Campo Meat Co, Jon and Vinny, SMYC, Ingo Diner, Aestus, Kiriko, Superba Food and Bread, Scopa Italian Roots, Ox and Son, Sushi Park, Cassia, Trois Mec, Leona
8. Try eleven restaurants in other places. Yes
9. Go to another place on my bucket list. Amazon
10. Read more books – the kind you hold in your hand that smell like books. Yes
11. Go to São Paulo.Yes
12. Meditate every day. Nope.
13. Look up less random questions on the internet.Yes
14. Go To Brazil. Yes
15. Have more real friends. Not sure but definitely less fake ones.
16. Go to The Stanley Film Festival. Not yet.
17. Get more involved at 826 LA. No
18. See ten documentary films. Finding Vivian Maier, Muse – Kobe Bryant, Deli Man, Going Clear, Sinatra – All Or Nothing At All, Monk With A Camera, Bolshoi Babylon
19. See ten foreign films Force Majeure, Leviathan, Timbuktu, The Gett, Wild Tales, A Borrowed Identity, Second Mother, Embrace of the Serpent, Sweet Bean, Son of Saul, Mountains May Depart, Lady In A Van
20. Eat less gluten. Think so
21. Read more of other people’s blogs. Yes
22. Do more beach walks.Yes
23. Be more grateful every day. Trying
24. Finally do that urban art tour in LA. No
25. Be a tourist in LA. No

Still Trying . Merry Christmas.

Fly safe,
JAZ