Quotes to Ponder:

When elephants fight it is the grass that suffers. - African Proverb

When the power of love overcomes the love of power, there will be peace. ~ Jimi Hendrix

Only in darkness can one see the stars.  ~ RRW

Without resting, dough won't rise. Same for humans.  ~ RRW

Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes, including you.   ~ Anne Lamott

A kite without an anchor cannot fly free.   ​~  Richard P. Toews

The greatest obstacle to discovery is not ignorance; it is the illusion of knowledge.  ~ Daniel J. Boorstin

Sometimes the only available transportation is a leap of faith.~ Margaret Shepard

The single biggest problem with communication is the illusion that it has taken place.     ~  George Bernard Shaw

It is never too late - in fiction or in life - to revise. ~ Nancy Thayer

Your day will go the way the corners of your mouth turn.   ~ Chinese fortune cookie

What is good for the spider is calamitous for the fly. ~ Morticia Addams​​

Too many of us are not living our dreams because we are living our fears.  ~ Les Brown

We face magnificent opportunities throughout our lives, each of which is brilliantly disguised as an impossible situation.  ~ Charles Swindoll

Never base a decision on the advice of someone who doesn't have to live with the consequences. ~ RRW​​

                  Lessons of the Lotus
                                                ( Continuing the theme of Vietnam and Cambodia)

The lotus has rightfully earned its esteemed place in the lore and legends of many lands, particularly in Southeast Asia. Rising from the mud, growing upwards towards the sunshine, the lotus leaf floats on or just above the water's surface as the flower expands in full bloom. It does not remain stuck in the mud; rather the mud becomes a source of nourishment and grounding for this amazing plant while it reaches upward towards light and air. Mud, sunshine, and air are all necessary elements for the lotus to grow, thrive, blossom, and become a spectacular, valuable plant.

I identify with the lotus. I think of it as my own personal "state flower". A symbol of life, persistence, tenacity, and hope, the lotus blooms where it is planted, utilizing whatever resources are available (including the mud) to become the best it can be as it grows to its full, glorious potential.

The lotus plays an important role in the cuisine of Southeast Asia. The root, which looks Iike a wagon wheel when it is sliced cross-wise, is often used in stir-fries and other dishes. The rhizome (stem) is the basis of a delicious Vietnamese salad. The seed, which looks similar to a chickpea or hazelnut, makes a refreshing soupy dessert and is also an ingredient in lotus seed fried rice. The lotus leaf becomes a package for various rice dishes and a serving tray for appetizers. The flower itself is used as a centerpiece and the open petals may adorn a festive serving platter. The petals are malleable and can easily be folded and formed into decorative shapes.

I admire the Vietnamese and Cambodians for their creative, resourceful use of this exquisite plant. No part is wasted. Each part is treated with appreciation and respect. Every time I see a lotus in bloom or taste a dish made with lotus ingredients, I offer a silent prayer of gratitude for this humble plant and the people who taught me how to use it. I am reminded that beauty and usefulness can originate anywhere, even in the mud. The secret is to reach upward, growing towards the light.

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The Tao of No  (a bit of philosophical meandering...)

In Vietnamese, the word for the numeral zero is "khong", the exact same word as "no". It is the word used to hold place value, like zero. So I got to thinking... 

Khong has value, even though it seemingly defines an empty space, or zero, or "nothing". This "no" is essential, has meaning, and our world would not function without it. In Taoism, nothing is something. There is no such thing as "wasting" time doing "nothing". The empty space and time are just as important and valuable as filled time and space. In fact, they often have more value.

In nature, the empty space (beach or shore) between land and sea keeps the ocean from overtaking the land and what is on the land; it also keeps the land from overtaking the sea. The empty space acts as a boundary, safety zone, margin, and more.

The empty spaces and rests between notes are essential to making music. Without the empty spaces, it would not be music. It would only be a nerve-wracking cacophony.

Written language would be a meaningless jumble of letters and symbols if there were no empty spaces between words, after a complete sentence, or before a new paragraph. Imagine a book with no margins on the page! This empty space helps the brain focus and process what the eye sees on the rest of the page.

Consider the number zero. We may think of zero as signifying nothing and having no value, but would you rather have $10 or $1,000,000? Yes, the zero has value; it is a place holder for the empty space.

Saying NO has value. When we say No to additional responsibilities and demands, we automatically create space in our lives, empty space that gives us room to breathe and room to grow and find our balance.

Uncluttering creates more empty space in our homes and in our lives. Empty, unfilled space relaxes the mind and spirit. Open, unfilled schedules allow the spirit to rejuvenate. Quietness - the sound of nothing - stills the mind so we can better hear "the music of the spheres", the sounds of the natural world, and perhaps, if we listen very carefully, the still, small voice of God.