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Good News & Gratitude #9
Shoutout to Jealousy & Kindness Salads, Mammograms & Persistent Cousins, Teeny-Tiny Mice, Crying Inside, Standing By One Another, and Rescue Dogs!
Hello Dear Beyonders!
I’ve been in and out and in again and out again of jealousy lately. As my friend Denine would say, “jealousy with a small j.” Which I always took to mean not the jealousy that churned and burned and ate away at your insides. Rather the variety that made sparklingly neon-light clear what it is you want for yourself through showing you other people having it. Finding myself here has been reminding me of some capital J Jealousy from a couple decades ago.
I've practiced, in one way or another, Tibetan Buddhism for nearly thirty years, but I remember when I was first getting to know my lama. At the time, my life was in the throes of a lot of change. I’d just divorced a man with whom I was still in love and who was still in love with me, moved from my beloved New York City to Michigan, and written my first novel. I was roommates with a new friend whom I adored and who adored me and who had also recently divorced and moved from Manhattan to Michigan and had just written her first memoir. Uncanny similarities, but the differences -- starting with our exactly polar opposite birthdays -- were too numerous to count. In my eyes she was wildly beautiful, witty, had heaps of money, guys lined up to speak to her, and... she got a book deal before me. And not only did she get a book deal, she got-a-lot-of-money-and-a-lot-of-promotion book deal. I was waiting tables.
I sank so deep down into the muck of my Jealousy I didn't know how I would ever find solid ground again. When I spoke with Rimpoche about it, he listened attentively, then said, "Make her a salad." A bit of context here: I was into raw foods back then and made some of the most magnificent salads imaginable and somehow Rimpoche knew this. But still: make her a salad? Although his advice was not the sort of rarefied Buddhist insight I expected and I didn't really understand it, I was clear that my Jealousy was potent enough that I was unable to make her a salad. So, Rimpoche said, "Then make her a salad in your head."
It took me a while to register the brilliance of these words. What he was saying was: be kind to this friend you’re so jealous of. That in the midst of her having everything I wanted, I should give to her the very best of myself that I could.
I feel foolish admitting it, but at first it wasn’t easy. I can’t recall the specific emotions now, but I was so thick in the Jealousy-induced self-kindness-deprivation zone I’m certain I wanted to withhold all that kale and avocado and those sprouts and that yummy homemade freshly mixed lemon tahini dressing as if that would cure my deep and painful longing.
But I’m nothing if not earnest, and I was earnest about both freeing myself from the grip of this Jealousy and being a good friend to this friend who was a good friend to me. So: I made her salads in my head. I made her salads my dreams. And, eventually, I made her salads in our narrow, sunlit kitchen. I chopped and tossed and scooped the salad into a beautiful, hand carved wooden bowl and sprinkled it with sunflower seeds and the best of myself I could muster.
And you know what? She loved it! And watching her eat it, I felt a weight lift from me and droplets of delight wriggle in. So the next night, I made her another one.
Clearly, the salad making suggestion wasn't only for the benefit of my friend. It was for my benefit, as well. By increasing my friend's happiness I was also increasing my own. But more than that, I was saying hello to my Jealousy. I was acknowledging she was there. I was letting her know I heard her. And by doing so, she no longer had to shout quite so loudly!
This has become a regular practice for me. The Buddha encouraged us to rejoice in each other’s joy. And time and again, almost instantaneously, doing so has magnified my joy. It has also deepened friendships and deepened my relationship with myself.
So: I’m grateful for that Awful Bout of Jealousy all those many moons ago because with the Kindness Salad Practice in play, I’ve never hit Jealousy again. And as corny as it sounds, I really do use my jealousy, with varying degrees of success, as a compass along my path pointing me more accurately toward my desires.
(Weirdly, the day after writing this I started’s chapter on Envy in her fantastic book On Our Best Behavior and this sentence felt quite fitting (and familiar!): “Instead of denying envy, we need to let it be our compass, let it land on those tender spots that point us toward the fulfillment of desire.” Yes!)
Speaking of Rimpoche, I want to share that the magnificent yoga and meditation instructor Cyndi Lee (we met in the basement of World Gym in NYC way back in the day!) who introduced me to Rimpoche is now on Substack. Check outfor all sorts of beautiful wisdom. And keep an eye out for an upcoming essay from Cindy here on Beyond on how meditation, yoga and Buddhist wisdom can inspire and inform a writing practice! I’m excited to read that!
I had my first mammogram this week in longer than I care to share. The results were normal. I’m deeply grateful. The reason it took me longer than I care to share to get a mammogram is not negligence. Folks with chronic conditions are by necessity probably more in tune with our bodies than most. Rather when you live with a chronic health challenge, the care required for that issue can take up so much of your time as well as mental and emotional energy there’s not much left for other forms of healthcare. Plus, so much money can be wrapped up in chronic health care that even co-pays can feel like a lot.
One of the main reasons I finally went is one of my cousins over these more years than I care to share has consistently, lovingly, but firmly nudged me toward an appointment. Her voice lodged in my head and at last broke through!
I mention this because if you have someone in your life who has an ongoing challenge, perhaps they too would benefit from some gentle, loving support in making sure all aspects of their health are being tended to. I’m grateful my cousin persisted!
And another weird coincidence: After writing this, I read’s newsletter where she talks about making a whole slew of doctor’s appointments at once because she’d fallen so behind on everything…so perhaps we all need to encourage each other!
This week Delilah, my doggy, found a sweet mouse in my basement. It had all its fur but was sooo tiny, I wasn’t sure if it was a little kid mouse or a small adult. Whichever the case, they needed help. So I called the Humane Society and Cassandra The Super Kind Rescuer picked up the mouse and drove them to the rehab lady an hour away. I thought my heart might burst that such attentive, loving, and serious care was given to such a teeny-tiny creature. I hope the wee peanut is doing okay. Deep Gratitude to all who care for creatures great and small!
Speaking of kindness toward animals, I just made our monthly donation to The DeTommaso Dogs. Ana works around the clock (no exaggeration) to rescue dogs in need, many near death. Deep gratitude to all the paid subscribers who make this possible!
I watched the final episode of Sex Education yesterday and sobbed (internally) almost all the way through. So much kindness! So much standing by one another! So much seeing the flaws and the beauty! So much standing by oneself! So much standing up for oneself! So much taking oneself seriously! So much taking one another seriously! So much speaking and acting your truth! So much supporting one another’s truth! So so so much joy! Who else has watched it? What did you think?
And finally: speaking of sobbing internally, I want to share this Five Question Interview I did for’s wonderful and thoughtful Substack . It was kind of wild to be on the other side of the questions! It actually ran in July but I’ve only recently-ish learned from a few of you that there was an issue with the link…so I’m sharing it again.
What’s one thing you struggle with that people might be surprised to hear?
I’m terrible at crying. I’m so deeply moved by so much in life, like to the bone moved, and am incredibly tender hearted. I’m often crying inside! But it’s rare the tears come out of my eyes. I’m not sure why I’m like this. I speculate that it’s because I was raised by two Brits who grew up in London during WWII. You know: stiff upper lip and they can bomb us but we’ll go out dancing and all that. I feel those beliefs coursing through my veins. Plus, I’m a Capricorn. And I lived on the Lower East Side for twenty-five years starting in the early eighties. I don’t know if any of that accounts for it. I try to cry more! I think crying is healthy!
That’s all for this week! What are you grateful for? What’s your good news? What has brought you joy?