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Volume 7, Issue 3 | March 2018

Earlier this month I met my dear friend Sheila for dinner before we were to attend an IANDS talk. We enjoyed great conversation (as usual) as well as a delicious meal at one of our favorite local restaurants. When done, we asked the waitress for our bill, and then gave her our plastic with which to pay. She returned to the table and handed us back our cards, saying "It's all been paid for." We were both caught off-guard and confused, not understanding what she meant. "Someone paid for your meal. You owe nothing." I asked if her tip was included and she replied "It will be taken care of; I'm not concerned about it." The payer wanted to remain anonymous. I had heard and read of such scenarios before, but it had never happened to me (nor Sheila)--and this wasn't for just a $3 cup of java either!

Sheila and I felt so touched by this random act of kindness, this expression of love, this thoughtfulness and generosity; we were both lit up, with hearts full. We immediately agreed we would "pay it forward" and felt excited about that future adventure we would share together. We proceeded to have fun playing detective at who could have been our kind stranger, and analyzing why they had chosen us. First we thought it was the friendly couple who'd already departed. Soon Sheila realized the waitress had given us a clue when she told us her tip " will be taken care of" indicating the benefactor was still in the restaurant. Then we were REALLY curious! As we departed, we were all smiles and even friendlier than usual to those we passed, shining and spreading the light within us outward. Folks responded in-kind (which made us wonder if our benefactor was this person or that one or ...).

We will never know who performed this gesture, but we do know it impacted us that night. It will continue to have a ripple effect and make a positive difference every time we remember it and also when we pay it forward.
These words in an Easter letter I received and read just last night seem apropos:

"A most beautiful transformation takes place in our consciousness as we increasingly expand our love and caring beyond the narrow boundaries of self and reach out to help others... Paramahansa Yogananda said: "With every kindness and every good action that you perform, you are being resurrected; and you are immediately in tune with Christ's divine consciousness."

Acts of thoughtfulness, kindness, and generosity uplift and go a long way towards joining people, healing hearts, and fostering peace, within and without.


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Inspiration and Contemplation
Life is About Stepping Out

Dorothy Steel's mind was made up. She had only been acting for three years and didn't want to audition for some "comic strip" movie she had never heard of. At 91, Steel told herself there was no way she could learn how to speak with an African accent that the role required. Steel declined the audition invitation.

When her 26-year-old grandson called, Steel casually mentioned the offer. He was stunned. "This is not just comics, this is "Black Panther," this is a big deal." When she still wasn't convinced, he decided to turn the tables on the woman who has been his source of wisdom. "My grandson said to me, 'You're always talking about stepping out on faith. I either want you to man up or shut up,' " Steel recalled, laughing at the memory.

Steel changed her mind and auditioned for the role, and the rest is history. Her scene-stealing lines in the film have inspired people that it's never too late to try new things. Read more about this fascinating woman - she was an IRS Senior Revenue Officer for decades, traveled the world, and lived in the Virgin Islands for 20 years - who landed up playing the role of a merchant tribe elder in the 14th-highest grossing movie of all time.
Love Actually

The psychiatrist and NYU professor who teaches the class "Love Actually" packs into one semester as much as possible on the human experience of love. At its core, it's a psychology class, but often the best way to understand psychological phenomena is through great art, where the psychology inhabits the artwork on a kind of cellular level. Hence, various poets' works are studied too.

I was heartened to learn that Dr. Megan Poe leads the class through a loving-kindness meditation. The idea behind it is primarily that as you develop your ability to be more present, you expand your capacity to love.
People Helping People
Experiencing More Humanity--Even in the Big City    
I am so delighted that there are really so many stories about people helping people which are shared in more and more newspapers, blogs, social networks, and other media that it is difficult for me to just choose one to share with you. I am not complaining!

Here's the story of someone in NY whose bicycle was stolen. She took some action by posting a sign and, while she did not get her bicycle returned, her sign made an impact in many ways and she got to experience more humanity in New York City. And it hasn't ended either! 
"Remember to look up at the stars and not down at your feet. Try to make sense of what you see and wonder about what makes the universe exist. Be curious. And however difficult life may seem, there is always something you can do and succeed at. It matters that you don't just give up."

 - Dr. Stephen Hawking, who died on March 14 at age 76 after capturing popular imagination with his writings about space and time.  

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