The Book Is Out!

Happy December!  Happy Christmas!  Happy Hanukah!  Happy Solstice!  Happy Holidays of Light!  I wish you all a New Year filled with peace and joy!

The new book, The Voice from the Back Row:  Off the Bandwagon, is finally published.  It is available at Balboa Press, and on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.  It is available in both hardback and softback and e-book format.

Those of you who have faithfully followed the blog as this book was created will understand when I share that my belief is that this book is meant to be read as widely as possible, in any of the formats.  It is what I have poured both monetary resources and time, effort, and love to make available.  If you are not familiar with the blog, below is a quote from the forward of the book, written by the broadly knowledgeable Dr. Aditi Guha.

“Diane began writing The Voice from the Back Row in 2015. The book captures the philosophy that we can all hold different perspectives and beliefs and yet work together for a better world. In this book, she shares with her readers the issues of our times and the processes of personal growth that she has found to be applicable universally. Each chapter stands on its own with a central message; our thoughts are more than just a dream. When we work together the dream can become real. The Voice from the Back Row; Off the Bandwagon is a book that no one will want to miss. It is a deep commentary on our times; it stays positive while detailing what needs to be done. It offers comfort and hopes to those of us who have been through the chaos of a very tumultuous time in history. It is an enriching factor to the lives of everyone who reads it. The content is timeless and will continue to offer a unique perspective for years to come. Dr. Aditi Guha”

Here is an excerpt from the epilogue.  “The chapters in this book are a collection of five years of reflection, stories, personal experiences and essays centered around the values and visions of the changes we are in the midst of experiencing. The first two-thirds of the book precede the epic event of our times, the Covid-19 pandemic, and the resulting chaos. Nevertheless, they foreshadow the pandemic and the issues with which we are now dealing. The last third of the book was written after the lockdowns of the pandemic gripped our country and the world. They offer descriptions of what has occurred, and ideas about the attitudes and actions that may be taken to move forward into the unknown. I have a sense now that these messages and vignettes are complete, at least for the moment. It is time now to publish what has been written, in the hope that they may be useful or of comfort as we face the future.”

I hope that each of you will gift yourself with a copy of the book in whichever of its formats encourages you to not only keep it, but to read it over and over, focusing on whatever chapter responds to your need or interest of the moment.  It will also be a wonderful Christmas, Hanukkah, another holiday, or birthday gift for someone you love.    I wish you all well on your journey forward.

In peace and joy, Diane

Celebrating Birthdays

Summer is a time for birthdays – at least it seems that way among those I know.  Summer is an energy-filled season, a vibrant time to remember and celebrate birthdays.  I do believe that remembering birthdays is important; a birthday is among the saddest times to be forgotten.  However, much as each of us needs to be remembered by those among whom we live, birthdays – remembered as well as forgotten ones – can be a difficult time for many.  It’s a matter of perspective.

For most of us, two modes of perception underlie birthday celebrations.  Some of us respond to both at once.  The most common practice for birthdays is counting.  The perennial thought behind the party is, “How old are you?”  Each year represents a different state of maturity.  Children are eager for their birthdays.  For children, birthdays mean a year older, a year closer to the freedom of adults, a year more of increased ability, and, of course, presents.  Once adulthood is achieved, birthdays represent a different prospect.  Each birthday represents another step forward towards diminished ability, diminished health, diminished financial well-being, diminished independence, and, in our culture, diminished respect.  Progress may be slow in that direction, but for most, the progress is inevitable.  The focus is on counting.  Even the language says that one IS that counted number.  These birthdays are bittersweet.

Another context from which to perceive birthdays pays no attention to counting.  Birthdays are to rejoice in the existence of the person being celebrated.  Birthdays are to acknowledge the uniqueness of the individual, and to recognize that he or she makes a large or small contribution to humanity and is valuable and valued.  From this viewpoint, the question, “How old are you?” is irrelevant.  A birthday celebrated with this attitude is a time of joy.

Some think that birthdays should be replaced with name days, the day on which an individual receives his or her name, or, in some religions, the day of baptism or reception into the religion.  Theoretically, this makes it more difficult to count.  In actuality, one can count as easily from a name day as from a birthday.  Name day or birthday, what matters is from what set of assumptions the day is observed.

Using counting to identify a person has an obvious fallacy.  Although each number purports to correlate to a specific level of maturity and set of skills, the fact is that no individual’s level of maturity is exactly the same as everyone else’s, young or old.  Children walk and talk at different ages; some people barely graduate from high school at 20, while others are ready for college at 14.  Some people remain emotionally boys and girls well into their 40s or beyond, while others are taking on extraordinary levels of responsibility in their teens.  Some people are in nursing homes in their seventies; others remain healthy and active into their 100th year.   The idea that because one IS a certain number (our language reinforces that idea) one is therefore described by the set of characteristics attributed to that number is ridiculous.  A number is simply a number; it is not the arbiter of one’s being.  In addition, there is a more subtle effect to counting.  Counting indicates that one is not good enough.  Children and young adults are not good enough because they are not yet full adults; adults are not good enough because the numbers indicate increasing deficiency.

How much better it is to simply celebrate each other!  How nurturing it is to remember each other at least once a year and shine attention upon each person’s unique existence!  This is a very special way to bring – as often as possible – a positive orientation of joy into our world.   It is simple but powerful way to support each other and contribute towards a kind and vibrant world.

Let us hold birthdays as a time of joy and remember always that each person comes bearing a gift to be recognized and celebrated.  Each of us is valuable and deserving of appreciation.  The ones who can find and acknowledge the sparks of value in others are the most powerful of all.

Peace, Diane