What Do You Carry For Good Luck When You Travel?

“You know what luck is? Luck is believing you’re lucky…to hold front position in this rat-race you’ve got to believe you’re lucky.” –  Tennesse Williams said by Stanley Kowalski in Street Car Named Desire

I am a believer in good luck charms when you travel. I never get on a plane without one. There’s a fine line between a bit of harmless (and possibly helpful) superstitious behavior for luck, and developing an obsessive and crippling dependence on some elaborate routine.

My good luck charms vary. For years I had a lucky flannel shirt that I wore on the plane. I convinced myself, it kept me safe from plane crashes, hijackings, robberies and getting caught bringing too much in at customs. I’m sure anything could have happened without it. Now it is all about some talisman or amulet to keep me safe while I travel. It changes but I wear the same one for a whole trip.

A talisman basically brings you good luck, as opposed to an amulet, which is designed to protect you from evil. For me it is an object designed to attract positive things – such as good luck, interesting people, unexpected adventures – and to protect you from negative things while you travel.

When I was briefly into Kabbalah, I wore a red string around my left wrist. It is used to ward off bad luck caused by the evil eye. It was knotted seven times and blessed. I figured if it was good enough for Ashton Kutcher and Madonna, it would keep me protected as well.

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After that I still liked red for luck. When it comes to red in China, you can never wear too much. Red symbolizes good fortune,happiness and joy. A circle always symbolizes wholeness or unity so I sometimes wear red bracelets when i travel.

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In Japan. I learned about Omamori which are used in both Shinto and Buddhist beliefs. They are rectangular pouches and gain their power from words written on paper or wood and sealed inside a cloth bag and can be purchased a temple. . Each omomori has a different purpose so make sure you get the right one. The words could be the name of the shrine, or a section from a sūtra, or some other powerful word. Never open the cloth to see what is inside! It is disrespectful and the omamori will lose its power. Omamori draw some of their power from the concept of the power of enclosed places. The covering of the omamori encloses the sacred words and so puts them in a separate realm where they can be effective, much as Shinto shrines are set within a separate space marked by torii gates. I usually attach one to a carry on bag  if I’m not wearing a bracelet.

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Having spent a lot of time in Mediterranean countries, I’m a fan of the evil eye charm. You will see them all over Greece, Turkey and the Middle East. It is based on quotes from all the ancient religious texts that” the gaze of someone who harbors feelings of envy or jealousy can bring misfortune upon the one who is seen — the one who “gets the evil eye.”Iit is used  as a safeguard against misfortune –  worn or hanging in their house, businesses or on their babies. I’ve had them on necklaces, bracelets earrings, ankle bracelets and sometimes just on a string.

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There are many others you can use. Ancient Egypt is a good place to go for charms. The Ankh and the Scarab are protection from Evil.

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Religion is another great source for superstitions. St Christopher is the patron saint to all people who travel. A St Christopher medal was once compulsory for any Catholic traveler. The Star of David, Hamsa (hand), the Holy Cross, Celtic Cross, Guardian Angels, beads blessed from a Buddhist Temple, written words, from the Quran, Bible or Torah can also be used.

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Folk tales and Myths have many as well. Four Leaf Clovers, Phoenix, Horns, Fish and Dragons are a few. I always buy the local good luck when I travel.

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Good luck charms feed the human need to look beyond ourselves for solutions to our difficulties, while still encouraging us to do our best. They are more like a boosters than a total solution. When things are tough, it feels good to hold a charm in your hand and hope for things to get better. They seem to be working for me. So go ahead, carry that lucky coin, wear those lucky socks or underwear because you can never have too much good luck.

 

Fly safe,

JAZ

Signs That You Are Still A Tourist In LA

Signs That You Are Still A Tourist In LA

Los Angeles was the kind of place where everybody was from somewhere else and nobody really dropped anchor. It was a transient place. People drawn by the dream, people running from the nightmare. Twelve million people and all of them ready to make a break for it if necessary. Figuratively, literally, metaphorically — any way you want to look at it — everybody in L.A. keeps a bag packed. Just in case.” Michael Connelly

You honk your horn in traffic.

You shop at the mall on Hollywood and Highland.

You are at the Fairfax Farmers Market on a weekday morning – hopefully not wearing cargo shorts and a fanny pack.

You haven’t worn jeans to a nice restaurant or the theatre yet. You haven’t been to the theatre in LA yet.

You still dress seasonally – wool in winter, white in summer.  You haven’t figured out that its scarves, boots, flip-flops and tank tops all year round.

You haven’t been downtown or to a museum that isn’t the Getty .

You are still having lunch at the Ivy for celeb sightings. The food is not as good as it used to be. You get excited when you see Richard Dreyfus at the drug store, Meg Ryan at Barneys or Madonna at Kabbalah. i have to admit I was happy when I saw Elton John having lunch with the kids.

You get excited when you see Tyra Banks online for the bathroom at the Arclight. You do go to the Arclight and not the “Graumans” Chinese  theatre right?

You don’t have a favorite Mexican restaurant.

Everyone knows the driving shortcut you have just found.

You rarely use valet parking and prefer to find a spot on the street.

You have not yet been on a juice fast.

You are not worried by the lack of rain.

Words like Santa Anas, fire season, earthquake kits and did any one feel that? are not part of your regular vocabulary yet.

You leave your car on South Beverly Drive and walk to Rodeo Drive. You still leave your car in one place and walk to all your errands if you can. You attempt to live somewhere where you are near public transportation.

You have not perfected your spray tan color yet.

You have barbecues in the winter. You still get a bit sad that there is no snow on Christmas.

You have not bought a winter coat even though there are days you need it.

You still prefer to eat in the restaurants that have a view of the ocean even though others are better and less expensive.

Fly Safe,

JAZ

“I’m Spiritual Not Religious” – An American Thing

“I’m Spiritual Not Religious.” – An American Thing

‘Don’t use Buddhism to become a Buddhist. Use Buddhism to become a better whatever you are.’   Dalai Lama

Most people don’t enter a path of spirituality when they are happy. It is when life gets hard that they look for help. When I started on a spiritual path, I learned a little of everything. –Meditation, Mindfulness, Kabbalah, Buddhism, Anything A Non, Judaism, Taoism and Sufism. I took a Spiritual Christianity class and learned about the Koran.

When I travel, I try and learn about the religions of a country –to see how God fits in their lives. The religious buildings are so much a part of the architecture that I love. I like to learn about the kind of people that use them. What I have seen is that the poorer the country, the stronger the faith and the community of faith. Spiritual but not religious people seem to be prevalent in America only.

My spiritual path is a bit of this and a bit of that. At the moment (and it changes often) It includes some yoga, meditation, mindfulness, quotes from everything, erratic Torah study, Tai Chi, Sufist readings , Indian food, bracelets and feng shui. I haven’t studied the books intensely of any of these religions enough to know the true meaning of the work. I take what I like and leave the rest. My eclectic spiritual path seems to place me on a path alone. My thoughts and belief systems start to change as I continue on to the unknown. It is my journey and my truth and I can become as self obsessed with it as I wish. Is this the religion of the me generation?

True spirituality is supposed to put you in touch with empathy for the world, I’m not seeing the correlation between good, kind and caring people and “ the new American spirituality”.  I’m hearing the words but I don’t see the transformation. Being spiritual allows you to be ambiguous. You don’t have to have a belief system, you can just believe in something. There are no expectations about your behaviors or attitudes . You don’t have to be accountable for your actions.

Spirituality in the American version appears to be a bit selfish. I find myself being hurt by people who say they are spiritual. I give them qualities that they don’t seem to have yet. Their search for their own truths becomes more important than anyone’s feelings but their own. Spirituality and meditation seems to be about making yourself feel better. It isn’t about being part of something bigger or helping a community . It can be a bit narcissistic if you are inclined in that direction. Your own journey is the most important thing.

A  Vietnamese Buddhist monk was teaching a meditation class. He said “If you hear bombs in a neighboring village and your first thought is where is my family? Oh, they are not there. Everything is ok” than continue to sit and meditate.”

So I will have to reconsider my spiritual path once again. I have to change my mindset. I have to make compassion, kindness and integrity more important than my own personal well-being. If the world is going to change, it starts with each of us.

Fly safe,

JAZ

How To Annoy People In Los Angeles, California

How to Annoy People In Los Angeles, California

“Los Angeles is a large city-like area surrounding the Beverly Hills Hotel.” Fran Leibowitz 

Leave your turn signal on for ten miles. Drive very slowly in the fast lane.

Talk about how much better New York is and how more real New Yorkers are. Fill in any other state or country here.

Say that the acting business is all about luck.

Ask us about celebrity dieting, gossip, their fitness DVDs or their clothing lines. Most of us don’t care about them on the way up or the way down.

Tell us again that people don’t walk here. We haven’t heard it before.  Add that our public transportation sucks,. We know that is why a lot of us don’t use it.

Which would be another complaint. The traffic is really bad for us also.
Yes we have traffic for no apparent reason at 2:00 in the afternoon.

Complain about the air pollution. We know  because we don’t have good public transportation.

Ask us if we know someone more important who can read your script.

Take up the whole lane with your bike and don’t pay attention to traffic signs.   (that means you Mandeville Canyon riders)

Name drop celebrities or ask us who we know.

Bring up juice fasts, vegan restaurants,  or talk about how  much better your Mexican food is. (unless you are actually from Mexico). My kids who were born and raised in Los Angeles are serious carnivores.

Bring up new age anything, psychic pet healers, yoga, Pilates.  bar method, Scientology , Kabbalah, acupuncture, Tai Chi or ask about mercury in retrograde.   Everyone does not  like to talk about it.

Ask us if we drive to the gym. We do. Sometimes we go to lunch and pick up our kids in our workout clothes. I drive to walk my dog.

Tell us that you think that you look fat when you are thinner and more fit than we are.

Ask if the construction on the 405 affects us. It affects me every day and night.

Tell us there is no culture here.  There is plenty but some of it you have to look for.

Insult our artists. Some of them matter. Some of them you have heard of. All of them are cooler than you.

Leave the movie theatre as soon as the film ends. We like to read the credits and see who we know on the film and we don’t like you walking in front of us when we do.

Talk really loudly on your cell phone in a public place about all the movie business related things you are doing. We know it isn’t true.

Say you haven’t had any work done.  We know that isn’t true also.  We are from LA and we are professionals at being able to see that.

Ask questions about surfing, skating or being blonde.  We all can’t answer those.

Make comments about our weather.  We live here because we like it.

Ask us why we wear jeans in nice restaurants. Because we can.  We also wear boots, scarves, shorts and bathing suits year round.

Ask us why we wear Uggs and flip flops everywhere. I don’t know.

Ask us if we are ready for the “big one”.  If you need to know, go on facebook. Every time there is a tremor everyone reports it – as in “Did anyone else feel that?”

Fly Safe,

JAZ