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I'm out in the woods, this Sunday and next. Here's an encore edition of Staying Power from June 14. Back then, I hadn’t yet rededicated myself to creative projects begun before the pandemic. I could devote more time and attention to each care package, so this edition is chockfull of wonderful surprises. Enjoy, and stay well. Deep peace.—PCD
In this care package:
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Send me an email or reply to this one. Links only please; except for recipes, no attachments of original work. I can't promise to use every suggestion, but I'll be glad for your input.

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"The Secret of Blooming"

(Listen to this reflection on the Staying Power Podcast. Remember, you can subscribe to Staying Power on your favorite podcast platform.) 

 

The sun’s setting fast. You hurry, wanting to get home before dark. But as you stroll past a humble house fringed by lush flowerbeds, you glimpse a line of people in the backyard, facing a privacy fence. With their backs to you, they're ranked like a row of tin soldiers, socially distanced; seven or eight of them, standing at attention. What are they up to? you wonder, your steps slowing.

A masked man crossing the yard has noticed you on the sidewalk. “Come, join us!” he calls, with a wave.

You hesitate. It's late, and you’re not keen on mixing with strangers, especially during a pandemic. But you don’t know how to decline the invitation without seeming rude.

He beckons again. “You’re just in time!” he says.

In time for what? you ask yourself. Now you’re hooked.

You keep your distance as you follow him, adjusting your mask over your nose. The toy soldiers are focused on some weedy plants growing along the wood fence.

“Look!” exclaims a girl, no more than a kindergartener. She's pointing at a flower bud. “This one’s getting all trembly!”

“Maybe it will be the first!” says a woman, probably the girl's mother, standing so close.

An old lady stretches the tip of her cane toward another bud. “I’m betting on this one,” she says. “How about you?”

Yes, she means you. Surprised by her question, you lean in to study the bud, perched on a swaying stem as tall as your thigh. Its green sheath is quivering. “Watch now,” the old lady says. In slow motion the sheath starts to peel back, revealing a bit of the yellow flower hidden inside.

Fascinated, you survey the long bed of spindly plants. Dusk makes it difficult to judge, but you guess there must be dozens, even hundreds, of such buds.

“Evening primroses,” the old lady says. “I like to call them `sun cups.’ Keep your eyes peeled now—”

Right on cue, the primrose in front of you pops free of its sheath. Its petals are still tightly wrapped, but the brilliant yellow head of the flower curls up as if to say hello, spilling a chill down your spine.

“Oh my,” you whisper. “It’s so … so …”

“Alive?” the old lady says, finishing your sentence.

One thin petal unfurls magically before your eyes. Another. After a third, then a fourth, the primrose springs wide open. Amazed, you bend to sniff the big yellow cup. You catch a faint whiff of lemon.

From further down the line floats a chorus of “oohs” and “ahs.”

“That one bloomed so fast!” a man says, laughing.

“There goes another one….” a teenager says.

“Three are ready to pop over here!”

The old lady waves her cane in the air like a conductor’s baton. “Look at them!” she says, a proud lilt in her voice. You don’t know if she’s talking about the flowers or the people, but you straighten to witness a fireworks display of primroses bursting into glory. So many are exploding from their buds, nobody can keep count.

The spectacle of blooming ends fifteen or twenty minutes later, as abruptly as it began. The shadowy patch of what you first considered weeds is now ablaze with gorgeous bumblebee-yellow blooms glowing in the moonlight. Everyone applauds.

“I never knew flowers could do that,” you say.

“This time tomorrow,” the old lady says, “they’ll all be dead."

You stare at her, stunned. “Really? They spend all that effort to bloom for one night?”

“The world’s worth it,” she says, “don’t you think?”

You suspect that she’s smiling behind her mask. "Well," you say, "I’m glad I didn’t miss it.”

“Oh, every night there’s a fresh crop,” she says. “The plants will bloom and bloom all summer, if we do the secret thing.”

“Water them?” you say.

She shakes her head.

“Pick off the dead blooms?”

“Nothing so hard,” she says.

“What then?” you say.

“Show up," she says, "and pay attention. That’s why they bloom for us—to remind us how to love.”

 

Watch the blooming of an evening primrose, or enjoy a time-lapse of a cluster of primrose flowers.
 

 Deep peace and health to you,

Staying Power Podcast

Not Just a Number

The pandemic dead are becoming mere statistics: death tolls to be argued over, and charted on a graph. We can become numb to the terrible numbers. Yet we dare not be indifferent to the dead. We can only power through this pandemic by facing the truth. Each week I'll present a tribute to one person who has died—a reminder that everyone lost was significant.

Valentina Blackhorse, 28, was an administrative assistant for the Navajo Nation who dreamed of someday leading the tribe. Known to her family as a “feisty” enforcer of Navajo customs, she pored over books about her culture, studied Navajo language, performed jingle-dress dances at community powwows, and won the prestigious Miss Western Navajo pageant. Her family wants to raise her year-old daughter in the traditions she held dear.         Back to top
 

Empowerment Resources


Meditation


"A Guided Resting Experience"
by Dan Howard

 
Feeling tired and fuzzy-headed? Click on the video for a 10-minute rest, guided by Dan Howard, creator of the Intentional Resting Method. (Don't worry, you don't have to know the method to participate.) 
         Back to top


Prayer


"Shelter Me"
by Spiritu
 
The Rev. Michael Joncas, a priest, theologian, and prolific composer of liturgical music who lives in St. Paul, MN, created this gentle prayer-song in response to the pandemic. Psalm 23 inspired its text. Members of Spiritu, a choir based in the Twin Cities, recorded the piece from the shelter of their homes.           Back to top

Dance
 
"The Red Circle and the Blue Curtain"
performed by Bill T. Jones & friends
 
Years ago I had the happy opportunity to interview legendary dancer and choreographer Bill T. Jones about the spiritual foundations of his work. So this week, when I chanced upon this amazing video, I had to share it. When Bill took the stage with cellist Joshua Roman and singer Somi at TED2015, they didn't know what was going to happen. The audience got to witness creative collaboration in action: an extraordinary improvised piece called "The Red Circle and the Blue Curtain." Don't think your way through it. Just soak it in.        Back to top


Vocal Music


"I'm on Your Side"
by Michael Franti & Spearhead

Michael Franti is the creator and lead vocalist of Michael Franti & Spearhead, a band that blends hip hop with many other musical styles. "If there’s one thing that COVID has shown us," he writes about this song, "it’s that although each of us is unique, we’re all in this together, and that we all go through the same struggles, personally and as a planet. In this time of great vulnerability, it’s more important than ever that we let each other know, `I'm On Your Side.'"     Back to top


Instrumental Music


"Somewhere Over the Rainbow"
performed by Tommy Emmanuel

 
Australian Tommy Emmanuel is one of the greatest living acoustic guitarists. Some critics describe his playing as "miraculous." His skill is equalled by his infectious joy and unbridled delight in the music. He invites us to feel it as deeply as he does. Click on Tommy to hear his arrangement of this classic from The Wizard of Oz.            Back to top
Poetry

Sonja Livingston is an award-winning American essayist who is on the faculty of Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, VA. She has penned "Quarantine," a heart-wrenching poem from the pandemic that nevertheless plants a seed of hope. Click on Sonja to read the text. 
         Back to top
Visual Art

Click on Kaitlyn Hova's violin to experience what it's like for her, a synesthete, to hear colors. (Maybe you hear colors, too?) Kaitlyn uses virtual reality and music to give us a 360° glimpse into her life. Note the circle in the upper left of the video with clickable arrows, allowing you to change your view during her performance. After you watch this, learn more from her TedTalk, "Seeing Song Through the Ears of a Synesthete."       Back to top
Photo/Videography

Click on the image to watch Kid President (11-year-old Robby Novak) deliver a humorous Oval Office "Letter to a Person on Their First Day Here" from the Cardboard Oval Office. Kid President's videos have been viewed over one hundred million times. They all encourage us to spread joy and take positive action.          Back to top
Animal Therapy

Need a hug? Never fear—Louboutina's here! Click on the photo to learn more about this precious golden retriever, who has been hugging pedestrians near Chelsea and Union Square in New York City for years. Presented by The Dodo.               Back to top
 
Coloring

Download this coloring page full of butterflies and flowers. (Credit: skiptomylou.org via Prntr.com) 
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Power Recipe

Have a fairly simple, inexpensive recipe that might help others through these troubled times? Send it to me as a photo, Word document, or link. Each week I'll pick a submission at random to include as a "power recipe."

         
Total pr
Lemony White Bean-and-Arugula Salad Recipe | Cooking Lightep time for this "Lemony White Bean and Arugula Salad" recipe from Cooking Light is 8 minutes. Known for having a peppery taste, in this dish arugula gets a punch of protein and fiber from hearty cannellini beans, a bite from red onion, and hit of lemony flavor from the homemade vinaigrette. Click the dish to get cookin'!

Back to top

Secret Power Up



Imagine giving a boost to someone else. Click here to download today's "Secret Power Up" invitation.

Power Boosts

Click any image to view a larger version in a browser window.

Power Caring/Sharing


Caring/Sharing: Keep-It-Going List
  • Be kind in thought, speech, and action.
  • Follow the advice of medical experts. 
  • Spread no information that isn't factual.
  • Wear a mask.
  • Make a meal for someone in need or donate to local food banks.
  • Communicate in a socially-distanced way with vulnerable friends and neighbors. 
  • Tip generously when you have the opportunity.
  • Donate blood.
  • Offer moral and practical support to all essential workers.
  • Buy gift cards to support local restaurants and businesses.
  • Volunteer for organizations providing critical services in your community.
  • Donate to nonprofits helping to respond to COVID-19 (here's a list, for starters). Also continue to support your other favorite causes, if you can—they're still important, and probably struggling.
  • Use the power of your voice to advocate for individuals and organizations that need more help and for services that need improvement.
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Copyright © 2020 Phyllis Cole-Dai, All rights reserved.



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